The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday advanced the nomination of Deborah Lipstadt to serve as the U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

Lipstadt, 75, a top Holocaust historian and the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University, was approved by a 13-9 vote, with Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) joining the Democrats to vote in favor of her nomination.

Lipstadt was nominated by U.S. President Joe Biden on July 30 and since then her nomination has been in the committee before she received a hearing in February after Republicans on the committee requested more time to vet her. A vote in the committee was also delayed twice, once after due to the objection of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and another due to low attendance.

A chief concern for Republicans was what they considered Lipstadt’s history of partisan tweets, in which she criticized Republican lawmakers.

One specific tweet accused Johnson of white supremacy over a statement he made on a radio show when he stated that he was not as concerned by the mostly white insurgents at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, but would be more concerned if the riots were by Black Lives Matters and Antifa members if former President Donald Trump had won re-election.

The vote moves her nomination towards a full Senate vote to confirm her.

After months of calling for Biden to nominate an envoy, after which they urged for more than six months that she be confirmed by the committee, Jewish groups were elated at Tuesday’s news as anti-Semitic incidents continue to increase around the world. All urged the Senate to confirm her without delay.

“After enduring more than eight months of Republican obstruction, we’re thrilled to finally be able to congratulate Dr. Lipstadt as her nomination moves to a vote in the full Senate,” said Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) president and CEO Mark Mellman. “Dr. Lipstadt has spent her career fighting anti-Semitism—from the halls of academia to the public square to the world’s courtrooms—and she is uniquely qualified to take on this challenge.”

Mellman also attacked the Republicans who delayed and opposed her nomination, stating in a news release that it was a sad commentary on the GOP’s commitment to fighting the scourge of anti-Semitism.

The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) expressed appreciation to the committee and to committee chairman Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and ranking member Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) for their leadership.

“Lipstadt’s nomination comes at a critical time as anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in the U.S. and abroad,” JFNA said in a news release. “Only with the proper resources and tools can we fight anti-Semitism, and this is an important step in these efforts.”

The Orthodox Union called Lipstadt the “right person at a time of tremendous need” to take on the challenge of rising anti-Semitism.

Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel’s vice president of government affairs and Washington director, agreed, saying “as anti-Semitism continues to rise around the world, it is increasingly important that this position be filled as soon as possible. Dr. Lipstadt’s background makes her uniquely qualified for this job.”

Last week, the New York Police Department announced that anti-Semitism in New York rose 400% in February.

“Now more than ever we need a government official in this crucial position, and Dr. Lipstadt is our country’s foremost expert to combat the fight against anti-Semitism,” the anti-Semitism watchdog group StopAntisemitism said in a news release. “We look forward to swift and bipartisan confirmation because anti-Semitism must never be politicized.”

Biden’s pick to serve as part of the White House National Security Council’s Middle East and North Africa portfolio, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Barbara Leaf, was also approved in a 14-8 vote, with Romney, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) joining the Democrats to support her nomination.

JNS

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