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March 29, 2022 1:53 pm
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US Jewish Groups Applaud Senate Committee Approval of Deborah Lipstadt as State Department Antisemitism Envoy

avatar by Ben Cohen

US Jewish academic and Holocaust expert Deborah Lipstadt addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Reuters/Sipa USA/Rod Lamkey

The US Jewish historian Deborah Lipstadt was approved as the State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, following several months of intense political wrangling over Republican objections to her nomination.

Lipstadt — a recognized expert on antisemitism and a professor of Jewish Studies at Emory University in Atlanta — was approved by a 13-9 vote at the committee. Two Republican Senators, Mitt Romney (NH) and Marco Rubio (FL), voted with their Democratic colleagues in favor of Lipstadt.

The approval will now be put to a vote of the full US Senate for confirmation, a requirement stemming from the upgrade of the Special Envoy’s position to the rank of ambassador by a bipartisan vote of the US House of Representatives in Dec. 2020.

Originally nominated for the post by President Joe Biden last July, Lipstadt’s confirmation was held up by Republican unease with her perceived partisan politics. Much of the dispute centered on a tweet by Lipstadt last year accusing Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) of “white supremacy.” At a hearing in February that was addressed by Lipstadt, Johnson asked her pointedly why she would “level these vile and horrible charges against people, including me that you don’t even know?”  Lipstadt, who deleted and apologized for the offending tweet, explained to the hearing that she was an “equal opportunity foe” of antisemitism on both left and right.

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In the interim, a scheduled vote on Lipstadt’s confirmation on March 10 was postponed after committee chair Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) realized that not enough Democrats would be in attendance to override Republican opposition.

Tuesday’s vote approving Lipstadt was warmly welcomed by US Jewish organizations.

Expressing gratitude to the committee members for approving Lipstadt’s nomination, the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) noted in a statement that her appointment “comes at a critical time, as antisemitic attacks are on the rise in the US and abroad. Only with the proper resources and tools can we fight antisemitism, and this is an important step in these efforts.”

A statement from the the Orthodox Union (OU) praised Lipstadt’s “steadfast, vigilant and vocal leadership.”

Continued the OU: “She is the right person, at a time of tremendous need, to take on this challenge; we call upon the full US Senate to confirm her without delay.”

Other Jewish groups were similarly cheered by Lipstadt’s approval.

“Dr. Deborah Lipstadt’s confirmation has been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” stated a tweet from the Anti-Defamation League. “ADL has worked with Dr. Lipstadt for several years — she is a pillar of our community, and if confirmed, will be highly effective at combatting  antisemitism.”

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