(November 11, 2021 / JNS) Some 21 Jewish organizations wrote to the heads of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday urging them to swiftly approve Deborah Lipstadt as the next anti-Semitism envoy.
“As Jewish organizations dedicated to protesting the rights and security of the Jewish people, we believe that the U.S. Special Envoy position is crucial to addressing the global rise in antisemitic violence, harassment, vandalism, attitudes and incitement,” the groups wrote in a letter to Foreign Relations chairman Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and ranking member James Risch (R-Idaho).
The letter adds: “Every day that we delay filling this critical position, we are endangering people’s lives. We cannot let antisemitism become a wedge issue in today’s polarized politics.”
The organizations signing the letter include American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, Central Conference of American Rabbis, B’nai B’rith International, Hadassah, J Street, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Labor Committee, Jewish War Veterans, Jewish Women International, National Council of Jewish Women, NCSEJ, ORT America, Rabbinical Assembly, Reconstructing Judaism, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Jewish Federations of North America, Union for Reform Judaism, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism and World Jewish Congress.
It is the latest in a series of calls by American Jewish organizations urging the Senate to approve Lipstadt. Last week, the Orthodox Union, Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federations of North America also sent a letter to the Senate urging her approval.
Republicans have raised concern over Lipstadt’s past tweets, including calling Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) statements white supremacy when he said during a radio interview that he was not concerned by the mostly white insurgents at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but would be concerned if former President Donald Trump had won the election and those rioting at the Capitol were Black Lives Matters protesters or members of Antifa. She has also been criticized for appearing in an ad last year where she likened Trump’s rhetoric to Nazi Germany.
The Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Lipstadt is a Holocaust historian and author known for defeating a libel lawsuit from British Holocaust-denier David Irving in the late 1990s. She was nominated for the envoy position by Biden in July. The position was created in 2004, but upgraded to the rank of ambassador in 2020, requiring the nominee to be confirmed by the Senate.
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