Cantor: U.S. must signal intolerance for Israel vilification

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said the Obama administration must clearly signal to emerging Arab governments that vilifying Israel and Jews is unacceptable.

“Now is the time for Washington to send a clear signal to the emerging governments of the Middle East and the international community that it is not OK to vilify Israel and it is not OK to demonize Jews,” Cantor (R-Va.) said in his address Thursday to the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial taking place in suburban Washington.

Cantor blasted Howard Gutman, the U.S. ambassador to Belgium, who last week differentiated between European and Muslim anti-Semitism, saying the latter was in part explicable because of events in the Middle East.

“Any justification of any form of anti-Semitism must not be tolerated or condoned,” Cantor said to applause.

Obama administration officials have distanced themselves from Gutman’s remarks but have resisted calls to fire him.

Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in the U.S. Congress, earned a warm reception, despite his differences with the Reform movement, which trends liberal on a number of domestic issues.

Introducing Cantor, Rabbi David Saperstein, the director of reform’s Religious Action Center, praised the majority leader’s role in working with the Reform movement and other Jewish groups to defend Israel, isolate Iran, and promote human rights in Sudan and elsewhere.