Jewish Groups Decry ‘Antisemitic’ Comments Made by Trump Nominee for US Ambassador to Germany
Jewish groups have expressed concern over President Donald Trump’s nominee for the post of US ambassador to Germany, citing past comments that invoked antisemitic tropes.
Retired US Army Col. Douglas Macgregor — Trump’s choice to replace previous envoy Richard Grenell, who has returned from Berlin to work for the president’s re-election campaign — has used the political term “neocon,” short for “neoconservative,” as a pejorative on several occasions.
The term is frequently invoked by antisemites as a euphemism for Jews.
In a 2012 interview, Macgregor blamed “neocons” for “making decisions in Washington that in their minds are beneficial to a foreign power and are not necessarily good for the American people or the United States.”
Macgregor went on to distinguish between the Jewish community at large and the “numbers of people who call themselves neocons.” This group, he continued, operated “in a variety of settings in the government and in the media, and they support or advocate, for all intents and purposes, unconditional support for whatever the Israeli government wants to do. They are no means the majority and they are by no means representative of what I would call Americans who happen to be Jewish.”
Commenting on Macgregor’s nomination, B’nai B’rith International said it was “troubled.”
“It is important that American diplomats not question the patriotism of other Americans who hold political views different from their own, especially given that questioning Jewish loyalty to America is an antisemitic trope,” the Washington, DC-based advocacy group said in a statement on Wednesday.
B’nai B’rith also decried Macgregor’s view that the Iranian regime did not represent a serious security threat. In a recent Fox News interview, Macgregor opined that “there’s no evidence Iran wants to attack us.”
Earlier this year, he criticized “neocon” advisers around Trump — likely a reference to John Bolton, Trump’s estranged former national security adviser — for the assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF).
The B’nai B’rith statement noted it was “vital that the American ambassador to Germany, whose work includes diplomatic negotiations on sanctions against the Iranian regime, Hezbollah’s presence in Europe and other aspects of Iran’s global reach, understand the severity of Iran’s belligerence and support for terrorism.”
It added: “Combating antsemitism is an important priority for the US-German bilateral relationship, which adds to our concern over his record of insensitivity in speaking about Jews.”
Macgregor’s nomination was similarly questioned by the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism.
The retired colonel’s views were “nothing more than a repackaging of the antisemitic conspiracy theory alleging that Jews are more loyal to Israel than they are to the countries of which they are citizens,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs. “As the child of Holocaust survivors I know too well how dangerous such rhetoric can be. Disagreements over policy should focus on ideas, not hateful attacks alleging disloyalty or dual loyalties.”
The statement concluded that the “American people deserve an ambassador who respects the Jewish community and all other minority groups, fights against hateful rhetoric, and upholds the crucial alliance between Israel and the United States.”