Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Biden’s Undiplomatic Diplomat

This year started with a bang in Brazil’s capital. Jair Bolsonaro’s supporters protested election results by rioting, breaching government buildings, and fighting police, leading to hundreds of arrests. And who is there representing the United States?

It’s the President’s new ambassador, who has made incendiary comments about Jewish and Cuban Americans. She is someone whose confirmation undercuts the president’s pronouncement at last month’s White House Hanukkah party that “silence” about antisemitism “is complicity.”

Elizabeth Frawley Bagley’s ambassadorial nomination stirred controversy after The Washington Free Beacon publicized inflammatory remarks Bagley made as part of the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project in 1998.

Bagley charged that the Cuban American National Foundation, a major Cuban-American organization, “played both sides” and that Democrats’ wooing of Cuban-Americans “is not [about voter] numbers, it is like the Jewish factor, it’s money.”

Asked about “the Israeli influence” on the Clinton-Gore campaign, which the interviewer called “one of the big things of any campaign,” Bagley replied, “There is always the influence of the Jewish lobby because there is major money involved.” Bagley asserted that this influence was behind “the usual ‘make Jerusalem the capital of Israel’” campaign promise, which Bagley considered one of the “stupid things” Democrats say.

NGO StopAntisemitism has repeatedly denounced the absurd antisemitic remarks from Ambassador Badgley.

These were not private comments. Nor were they a youthful indiscretion. Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) rightly followed up.

Cardin noted, “The choice of words fit into the traditional tropes of antisemitism,” but oddly added that he expected the former ambassador to Portugal’s “language would have been more guarded than that,” as if veiled antisemitism were acceptable.

Meanwhile, Menendez asked, “Is it a suggestion that one group of Americans don’t have the right to engage in the political process as others do?”

For a diplomat, Bagley’s answers were poor. She told Cardin, “I regret that you would think that it was a problem” and “I certainly didn’t mean anything by it. It was a poor choice of words.”

Still, Biden stood by Bagley, as did all 11 Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including Cardin and Menendez. Neither senator responded to requests for comment about what won them over. Not one senator objected to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)’s request for unanimous consent on the Dec. 14 vote that confirmed Bagley.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, commented, “Those sentiments about Jewish control, etc. are toxic. … We all appreciate the White House, starting with speaking in a high-profile way against antisemitism, but words are meaningless when such a nomination was allowed to pass.”

Zionist Organization of America President Morton Klein remarked, “Confirming Jew-hater Bagley’s nomination makes clear Congress and the Biden administration is not serious about fighting the rising scourge of Jew-hatred. … I’m more than disappointed—I’m frightened.”

Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism, described the Senate’s “voice vote … that denies any accountability” as “discouraging.”

Rabbi Cooper observed that “going forward, we cannot make a dent in the struggle against antisemitism” without bipartisanship and “consequence[s] for bigots.”

Biden’s unwavering loyalty to Bagley, along with the Senate’s confirmation, signals that openly antisemitic statements no longer disqualify nominees for prominent positions of public trust. Such statements no longer require repudiation. Flimsy explanations are sufficient, as partisanship trumps moral guardrails.

By Biden’s own logic, he and every senator who helped confirm Bagley are more than complicit in the rising antisemitism he claims to oppose.