WASHINGTON—Today, Representatives Nita Lowey (D-NY), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Kay Granger (R-TX), and Marc Veasey (D-TX), co-chairs of the House Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism, were joined by 113 bipartisan Taskforce members in sending a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to quickly fill the position of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.
“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. 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.”
A copy of the letter can be accessed here. Text of the letter is included below:
Dear Secretary Pompeo,
As you begin your tenure as Secretary of State, we write to you today as Members of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism gravely concerned about the issue of rising global anti-Semitism. We urge you to fill the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the U.S. Department of State. Prioritizing this important role would bolster the United States’ ability to monitor and combat anti-Semitism abroad and send a strong message to the international community that the U.S. remains committed to fighting the scourge of anti-Semitism.
In addition to the vacancy of the Special Envoy, there have also been no staff assigned to the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism since May 2017. 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. 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.
Anti-Semitic views, rhetoric, and threats to the safety and security of Jewish communities are on the rise around the globe. Violent anti-Semitic extremist groups, now closely connected through the internet, are borrowing and refining strategies and tactics from each other. In Europe, anti-Semitic sentiments and violence have skyrocketed, including murders, physical harassment of Jews, demonization of Israel and its supporters, and Holocaust distortion. According to the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, “Europe’s largest Jewish communities are experiencing a normalization and mainstreaming of anti-Semitism not seen since the Second World War.” As history has repeatedly shown, anti-Semitism is often the “canary in the coal mine” that preludes the rise of other forms of bigotry and prejudice.
In 2004, Congress passed the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act with strong bipartisan support. This legislation - through provisions authored by Taskforce Co-Chair Rep. Chris Smith - created the Special Envoy and its office, which are tasked to monitor worldwide anti-Semitism trends; document incidents; consult with domestic and international non-governmental organizations; coordinate efforts with partners in the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Nations, and elsewhere; and support endangered Jewish communities around the world.
Since early 2017, bipartisan members of the House and Senate have called on the Administration to fill this position as quickly as possible. Additionally, the Omnibus Appropriations bills for Fiscal Years 2017 and 2018 included directives, authored by Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Nita Lowey, urging the Administration to prioritize the appointment of this position and to provide funding for the efforts of the Special Envoy’s office. Yet, despite these bipartisan, bicameral efforts, the position and office remain vacant.
You are assuming the Secretary of State role during a time of many great challenges to international stability and U.S. national security. Nonetheless, we urge you to prioritize the swift appointment of a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and to provide the necessary resources for this critical work. This appointment would demonstrate the commitment of the United States to Jewish communities around the world and to the fight against the persistent evil of anti-Semitism. We look forward to working with you to make this a reality.
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