June 15, 2017 — New York, New York
AJC is deeply concerned that Secretary of State Tillerson, despite his department’s previous commitment to fill the positon of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, may actually eliminate it. During a House Appropriations Committee hearing on the State Department budget, Tillerson suggested that the position may not be necessary for the U.S. to deal with antisemitism around the world. Questioning the utility of the antisemitism envoy comes amidst consideration of the Administration’s proposal to severely cut the State Department budget.
“The State Department’s special envoy on antisemitism has been a living embodiment of our country’s commitment to fighting this evil,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC Associate Executive Director for Policy. “Eliminating or even curtailing the office’s essential functions would raise questions about the administration’s commitment to combating antisemitism, and diminish U.S. global leadership in this cause at a time of rising threats to Jewish communities abroad.”
In April, AJC urged Tillerson to fill without further delay the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism. The vital position, created by Congress in 2004, has been vacant since the new Administration took office in January.
To further strengthen the capacity of the position, AJC is supporting the bipartisan Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Act of 2017 (H.R. 1911 and S. 1292). It would elevate the envoy position to the rank of Ambassador, to report directly to the Secretary of State. The proposed legislation would establish the position as the primary advisor and coordinator for U.S. Government efforts to monitor and combat antisemitism and antisemitic incitement in foreign countries.
Isaacson called on Secretary Tillerson to maintain the antisemitism envoy and to welcome the congressional proposal. “The antisemitism envoy’s relatively modest – but essential – office should be exempt from any budget cuts and the appropriately qualified individual appointed promptly to fill it,” said Isaacson.
The Office to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism has kept the U.S. at the forefront of international efforts to raise consciousness about the rising menace of antisemitism and press governments and multilateral institutions to take action to safeguard vulnerable Jewish communities.