Jewish organizations are calling on the U.S. Senate and its Foreign Relations Committee to hold a hearing on and confirm historian, author and Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt for the role of U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism following reports that her nomination is being delayed by Republicans.
The Orthodox Union, Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Federations of North America sent a joint letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and ranking member Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) highlighting the role’s importance and the need to confirm Lipstadt quickly, despite their organizations normally not supporting or opposing nominees.
“Earlier this year, in the face of a surge in anti-Semitic incidents in the United States and abroad, we urged [U.S.] President [Joe] Biden to nominate someone to this critical post. … Professor Lipstadt has a long and well-documented history of fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of racism. She has a record of calling out anti-Semitism in all its forms, from both the left and the right,” the letter stated. “Anti-Semitism continues to be a scourge across the globe. Presently, individual Jews are harassed and assaulted on city streets, synagogues are subject to vandalism, and various lawmakers press legislation to ban fundamental Jewish practices including the production of kosher meat and ritual circumcision.
“The global Jewish community needs the United States to be a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism, and we must not waste more time leaving our lead official in this fight off the field. … There is no question that [she] has the credentials to deserve a proper hearing before the Committee on Foreign Relations—and that hearing is now overdue.”
Earlier this week, it was revealed by Jewish Insider that Republicans were concerned about Lipstadt’s prior tweets, including calling Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-Wis.) statements white supremacy when he said during a radio interview that he was not concerned by the mostly white insurgents at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but would be concerned if former President Donald Trump had won the election and those rioting at the Capitol were Black Lives Matters protesters or members of Antifa.
B’nai B’rith International also joined the chorus to pressure Republicans to end their obstruction of her nomination.
“The special envoy position is vitally important to the fight against the dramatic rise in anti-Semitism globally in all of its manifestations,” wrote B’nai B’rith president Charles Kaufman and CEO Dan Mariaschin in a statement on Friday. “The hold on Lipstadt’s confirmation must be lifted quickly so she may assume the post and commence this important work.”
Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, is a Holocaust historian and author known for defeating a libel lawsuit from British Holocaust-denier David Irving in the late 1990s. She was nominated for the special envoy position by Biden in July. The position was created in 2004, but upgraded to the rank of ambassador in 2020, requiring the nominee to be confirmed by the Senate.