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April 4, 2018 12:15 pm

An Open Letter to President Trump on Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism

avatar by Jonathan A. Greenblatt

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US President Donald Trump. Photo: Screenshot.

In the below letter to the White House, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) urged President Trump to, without delay, fill the vacant Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism position.

Dear Mr. President,

Antisemitism is escalating at an alarming pace around the globe while the key United States government position on this threat — the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism — remains vacant. We urge you to take immediate action and make this critical appointment without delay.

This week, the Jewish communities of France and the United Kingdom took to the streets to protest anti-Jewish hate. In France, the brutal antisemitic murder of Mireille Knoll, an 85 year old Holocaust survivor, was the 11th such murder in 12 years. French Jews fear for their security and question their future in France.

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In the United Kingdom, the Jewish community felt compelled — for the first time in many years — to call a public demonstration to protest the constant stream of antisemitic incidents in the Labour party, and the failure of its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to address the problem. And the data confirms the anger and concern of these communities. Violent antisemitic assaults increased 34 percent in Britain in 2017, according to the Community Security Trust. The French Ministry of the Interior states that antisemitism increased 26 percent in France during the same period.

Across Europe and elsewhere around the world, Jewish communities worry about rising antisemitism, including violent incidents, vandalism, and hateful rhetoric in public discussions and online.

Antisemitic rhetoric in Poland, in both private media and on state television, has intensified following the passage of a law that criminalizes certain speech about Polish collaboration during the Holocaust.

Two Jewish houses of worship were firebombed in Sweden last year, including one in which Jewish youths were gathered inside. Synagogues in Tunisia and Iran were also desecrated in 2017.

In the United States, the ADL’s Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents documented a 57 percent rise in antisemitic incidents in 2017 — the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since the ADL started tracking such data in 1979. The sharp rise was in part due to a significant increase in incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.

Mr. President, the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is America’s voice on antisemitism around the world — and that voice has been silent for the past 15 months, despite the Secretary of State’s commitment seven months ago to fill the position.

The Special Envoy position, and the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, were established under the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act (Public Law 108-332), passed by Congress in 2004 with broad bipartisan support and signed into law by President George W. Bush. The position and the Office were created to respond to the type of crises that Jews worldwide are now experiencing.

Congressional commitment to the position and staffing the office has since been prioritized through appropriations, and indeed, the explanatory statement on the FY17 Omnibus declared that “the Secretary of State is directed to fill the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism authorized by Public Law 108-332 in a timely manner.”

Mr. President, by nominating a respected and effective advocate, you will be reasserting America’s moral leadership against antisemitism and reassuring Jewish communities that America stands with them and their ability to live securely as Jews, wherever they are.

We respectfully urge you to prioritize this urgent matter and to appoint a US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

Sincerely,

Jonathan A. Greenblatt
CEO and National Director
Anti-Defamation League

This letter can be viewed at the ADL website here.

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