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December 31, 2020 3:20 pm
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Jewish Groups Applaud Elevation of State Department Antisemitism Envoy to Ambassador Level

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

‘Stamp on the Jews’ — antisemitic graffiti on an Italian street. Photo: Osservatorio Antisemitismo.

US Jewish groups warmly welcomed Thursday’s bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives to elevate the role of the State Department special envoy to combat antisemitism globally to ambassadorial level.

The  New Year’s Eve vote followed the passage of the legislation, first introduced in the House last year, through the Senate on Dec. 17.

Explaining the need to bolster US efforts to combat antisemitism, the resolution noted that since the State Department post was created by the George W. Bush Administration in 2004, “acts of antisemitism have been frequent and wide in scope, the perpetrators and variety of threats to Jewish communities and their institutions have proliferated, and in some countries antisemitic attacks have increased in frequency, scope, violence, and deadliness.”

The resolution specified that the special envoy’s post would now carry the title of ambassador. It also stressed that anyone appointed to the post “should be a person of recognized distinction in the field of combating antisemitism.”

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In a statement responding to Thursday’s vote, the Washington, DC-based Orthodox Union (OU) said it was “very grateful” for the resolution.

“Sadly, we have seen a surge of antisemitic incense around the world in recent years,” the OU commented. “With the passage of this legislation, the Senate is providing powerful new tools to the State Department to lead impactful international efforts to combat what has been aptly called ‘the world’s oldest form of hatred’ and roll back the tide of anti-Jewish hate.”

Separately, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CoP) applauded the “additional prominence and visibility” that an ambassador’s rank gave to American efforts to counter antisemitism.

The CoP offered its gratitude to “Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ), Brad Schneider (D-IL), and Eliot Engel (D-NY) for their leadership as original cosponsors of this legislation, as well as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD). We look forward to seeing this measure signed into law by the President and swiftly enacted in the days ahead.”

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