(May 24, 2018 / JNS) At a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised that he would work towards an appointment of a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
During testimony in front of the House committee, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.H.), a senior member of the committee, had asked the Pompeo to act on the appointment of the vacant Special Envoy position. “And in 2004, I authored the Anti-Semitism Special Envoy. That, too, has not been filled,” Smith said to Pompeo of the vacancy. “And I know that you care deeply about combating the scourge of anti-Semitism, which is rising all over the globe. Please move on that as well.”
“You have my word,” Pompeo told Smith in response.
The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism heads the State Department office responsible for leading U.S. efforts to counter anti-Semitism around the globe.
The exchange in Congress came after a letter, spearheaded by the leaders of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism—Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fl.), Ted Deutch (D-Fl.), Marc Veasey (D-Texas) and Kay Granger (R-Texas)—was sent to Pompeo and signed by 120 members of Congress.
“Without a Special Envoy, the United States lacks the focus of a person solely dedicated to spearheading our important diplomatic efforts in the fight against anti-Semitism,” the letter stated. “Appointing this important position will make clear to foreign governments that combating anti-Semitism remains an American priority and that the U.S. maintains its traditional leadership in the fight.”
The American Jewish Committee applauded the efforts by Congress to fill an anti-Semitism envoy position.
“Congress plays a vital role in U.S. efforts to combat global anti-Semitism, and one of its most effective instruments has been the creation, maintenance and ongoing interaction with the Office of the Special Envoy,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC associate executive director for policy. “Its very existence sends a powerful signal to world leaders and to vulnerable Jewish communities of America’s commitment to confronting this menace.”