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August 29, 2017 5:47 pm

US Jewish Groups Praise Tillerson’s Renewal of State Department Antisemitism Envoy

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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Photo: Wikicommons

US Jewish groups reacted with praise and relief on Tuesday to the news that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is to fill the post of special envoy for the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, ending months of uncertainty over whether the position – originally established by the George W. Bush Administration in 2004 – would be retained under President Donald Trump.

Tillerson made the announcement on Monday in a letter to Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The office of the envoy will be housed in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, with two positions and $130,000 in funding, Tillerson told  Corker.

B’nai B’rith International President Gary P. Saltzman and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin said they were “pleased” by Tillerson’s announcement.

“B’nai B’rith has long spoken out about the vital nature of this position,” their statement said. “The impact of the United States government placing its power and prestige behind the issue of anti-Semitism and combating it, cannot be overstated.”

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World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said he commended “the US administration for its encouraging decision to prioritize the appointment of a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.”

Said Lauder: “America’s Jewish community is undoubtedly among the safest in the world, but the demonstrations of blatant antisemitism, bigotry and racism that we have seen of late make the importance of such an envoy ever clear.”

American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO David Harris commented: “The Administration’s decision to keep the position of Special Envoy comes as welcome news. As antisemitic expressions and acts multiply in many parts of the world, the work of this office only becomes more important and offers a model for other likeminded countries to emulate.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO, said that the envoy’s position “has been an essential diplomatic and political tool in fighting antisemitism around the globe.”

“At a time when there is a growing prominence to anti-Jewish movements and actions, the special envoy to combat anti-Semitism continues to be essential,” Greenblatt said. “We urge the State Department to refrain from eliminating other special envoy roles which are vital to promoting American values of democracy, tolerance and religious freedom across the globe.”

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