AJC welcomes House passage of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act.
H.R. 1911, introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and a bipartisan group of other representatives, will elevate the envoy position to the rank of Ambassador, to report directly to the Secretary of State. The bill establishes the position as the primary advisor and coordinator for U.S. government efforts to monitor and combat anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement in foreign countries. It also emphasizes that the Special Envoy should be a person of recognized distinction in the field of religious freedom or combating anti-Semitism.
“Mobilizing governments and civil society and assuring there are adequate tools to combat European anti-Semitism are priority objectives, for which the U.S. Special Envoy is an essential partner. At a time when anti-Semitism shows no sign of abating, it is fitting and logical that this position be given prominence at the State Department,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC Associate Executive Director for Policy.
“This critical position has been unfilled since January 2017, and with this vote Congress is not only reaffirming the necessity of naming an envoy but upgrading the position in response to a growing demand for U.S. leadership,” Isaacson continued. “Indeed, the very existence of this Special Envoy role sends a powerful signal to world leaders and to vulnerable Jewish communities of America’s commitment to confronting this menace.”
AJC has repeatedly called on the administration to fill the envoy post. In May, AJC worked to help garner the signatures of 120 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle on a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging swift appointment of a new State Department Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. This letter was initiated by leaders of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism – Representatives Eliot Engel, Chris Smith, Nita Lowey, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ted Deutch, Marc Veasey, and Kay Granger – a caucus AJC has supported since its creation in 2014.
The congressional letter—signed by more than one quarter of the House of Representatives—came on the heels of an AJC-coordinated letter, signed by more than 1,100 religious leaders across the United States, urging Secretary Pompeo to appoint a Special Envoy. Among the signatories are rabbis, several hundred Christian leaders, and faith representatives of the Baha’i, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh communities.
The Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, created by Congress in 2004, has kept the U.S. at the forefront of international efforts to raise consciousness about the rising menace of anti-Semitism and press governments and multilateral institutions to act to safeguard vulnerable Jewish communities. In July, AJC directly and personally appealed to Secretary Pompeo on this matter and welcomed his commitment to promptly fill the post. “It is now imperative that this key State Department post be filled and provided necessary resources and exempt from any budget cuts,” said Isaacson.