(JNS.org) In a letter issued Wednesday, the Anti-Defamation League, U.S. lawmakers and religious leaders urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to appoint a new special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.
The call to salvage the special envoy position and its associated bureau—the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism—comes as the post has remained vacant for five months following former envoy Ira Forman’s departure.
The letter, signed by dozens of religious leaders representing Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, Hindus and Sikhs, notes that the position was mandated by the U.S. Congress in the 2004 Global Anti-Semitism Review Act.
“As faith leaders who care deeply about combating anti-Semitism, we know how critically important this Special Envoy role has been in representing our government abroad on a range of issues affecting the safety and welfare of Jewish communities,” the letter signatories stated, adding, “We urge you to clarify your position and commit to filling this statutorily mandated appointment as soon as possible.”
Among other duties, past envoys have met with representatives of various countries to discuss issues of anti-Semitism or other Jewish-related concerns, such as proposed European bans on Jewish ritual circumcision. But while he held the position, Forman was called out for ignoring Palestinian and Muslim anti-Semitism.
Earlier this year, reports emerged that the Trump administration was mulling eliminating the anti-Semitism post and other special envoy positions as part of proposed budget cuts.