Since President Donald Trump was elected to the presidency last January, the position for the Special Envoy aimed to monitor and combat Antisemitism was not yet filled.
Dozens of lawmakers and religious leaders in the U.S. urged Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to nominate an envoy, after reports indicated the position would be left empty in July and might be eliminated in the future.
The Special Envoy is aimed to monitor antisemitic incidents, document the cases in State departments abroad and represents and advises international organizations. The envoy combats Antisemitism and incitement. The Special Envoy helped to define the State Department’s working definition of Antisemitism. The position was firstly created under the Global antisemitic Review act of 2004.
The position is very important especially “in the fight against this terrible hate that is on the rise in the world” said Chris Smith, a U.S. representative, who helped in the position. “It is vital that one senior law enforcement official has the mandate to lead effort across the government to anticipate, prevent and respond to threats and attacks – especially violent ones – against the American Jewish community,” Smith said.
Hannah Rosenthal was the Special Envoy from 2009 to 2012, she said that the envoy’s role helped American diplomats to fight offensive acts and speech, especially with the working definition of Antisemitism.
The elimination of the position was originally part of the Trump administration’s plan to cut federal spendings. According to Bloomberg, the Special Envoy dedicated to fighting Antisemitism is not the only position that is questioned, also positions dedicated to climate change and Muslim communities.
As reported, Tillerson questioned the need for a Special Envoy. To his words, the State Department wants to make sure whether the Special Envoy weakened the attention to Antisemitism. He argued that all diplomats should feel responsible for combating Antisemitism, and when one is tasked for the position, it removes the responsibility from others, leading to the fact that diplomats avoid dealing with the issue.
The ADL contradicted his arguments and cited “concerns about Antisemitism do not always make it on to the agenda of diplomatic meeting, especially when many other legitimate and pressing issues require attention. By contrast, when the Special Envoy meets with foreign officials, Antisemitism is the agenda.”
Source: JTA, Ynet News.
By: Yael Soffer