Jewish advocacy groups slam Trump’s pick for German ambassador for bigoted comments

Several Jewish advocacy groups are opposing President Donald Trump’s nominee to become the US ambassador to Germany in light of his incendiary comments, including some unearthed by  KFile, about Germany, the Holocaust and Jewish groups.

The American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, J Street, the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism and B’nai B’rith have decried Trump’s choice of retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor to oversee US-German relations.
 KFile reported Tuesday that Macgregor, among other comments, criticized Germany for giving “millions of unwanted Muslim invaders” welfare benefits rather than providing more funding for its armed services, and downplayed the country’s Nazi history. He described the German cultural concept of Vergangenheitsbewältigung, which seeks to “cope with the past” and confront the atrocities the country committed in World War II, as a “sick mentality.”
“There’s sort of a sick mentality that says that generations after generations must atone sins of what happened in 13 years of German history and ignore the other 1,500 years of Germany,” Macgregor said in 2018. “And Germany played a critical role in central Europe in terms of defending the serving Western civilization. So I think that’s, that’s the problem.”
American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to withdraw Macgregor’s nomination, the group said in a statement Friday.
“It is because of our intensive engagement with Germany that we were so troubled” by Macgregor’s comments pertaining to the country’s government and history, Harris wrote, adding that such remarks “would establish as America’s representative, in what many regard as the most important capital in Europe, a relentless critic, presumably handicapped from the start as an effective envoy.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, tweeted Tuesday that while he respects Macgregor’s military service, “this bigotry & xenophobia is abhorrent.”
“Also, there’s 6 million reasons why those years of German history can not be ignored,” Greenblatt continued. “A US Ambassador must respect the past, to represent America in the future.”
J Street tweeted Tuesday that it was “not surprising that someone who downplays the Holocaust would have a history of bigoted & dehumanizing comments about Muslims & immigrants.”
The StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism called for a new nominee to serve as ambassador to Germany. They cited Macgregor’s 2012 comments to The Daily Bell where he asserted that, among Jewish people, “what you have are numbers of people who call themselves neocons. They operate 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.”
“This is 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,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said in a statement last week, adding that “disagreements over policy should focus on ideas, not hateful attacks alleging disloyalty or dual loyalties.”
B’nai B’rith said in a statement last week that it was “troubled” by Macgregor’s comments about Jews and hoped “that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will raise these concerns during Macgregor’s confirmation process,” but did not explicitly call for his nomination to be withdrawn.
“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 anti-Semitic trope,” B’nai B’rith said, adding that “combating anti-Semitism is an important priority for the U.S.-German bilateral relationship, which adds to our concern over his record of insensitivity in speaking about Jews.”
If confirmed, Macgregor — a decorated combat veteran, author and frequent guest on Fox News — would oversee a new diplomatic period in US-German relations, one that has reached new lows after reports that Trump bullied and berated German Chancellor Angela Merkel on state phone calls.
The Trump administration announced last week that it will withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from bases in Germany. The decision to remove troops from Germany was slammed by Republicans, Democrats and former senior military officials, who said the move would benefit Russia.