Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Breaking News

EU Trade Chief Apologizes for ‘Irrational Jews’ Comment

The European Union’s trade chief apologized for saying that rational discussion about Israel was impossible with Jews and that the Jewish lobby is the most influential in Washington.

Karel De Gucht, a former Belgian foreign minister who is now the E.U.’s Trade Commissioner, had been asked in a radio interview on Thursday for his opinion on renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks launched in Washington.

“That is the best organized lobby that exists there,” De Gucht was quoted by The Associated Press as telling VRT, a Dutch-language radio network. “There is, indeed, a religion, I can hardly describe it differently, among most Jews that they are right. So it is not easy to have a rational discussion with a moderate Jew about what is happening in the Middle East. It is a very emotional issue.”

The European Jewish Congress immediately blasted the remarks and said they were part of an increasing pattern of anti-Semitism.

“What sort of environment allows such remarks to be made openly by a senior politician?” said Moshe Kantor, the EJC president. “This is part of a dangerous trend of incitement against Jews and Israel in Europe that needs to be stamped out immediately.”

By Friday, De Gucht was apologizing. In a statement he said it was not his intention “to cause offense or stigmatize the Jewish Community. I want to make clear that anti-Semitism has no place in today’s world and is fundamentally against our European values.”

The European Commission, a body of 27 commissioners from each of the E.U.’s member nations, each handling a different policy area, distanced itself from De Gucht’s comments.

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.