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167 House members ask Trump to retain ambassador to combat anti-Semitism

President Donald Trump addresses Joint Session of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 28, 2017. Photo courtesy of Reuters/Jim Bourg

(RNS) Following a report that President Trump is thinking of scrapping the ambassador position assigned to combat global anti-Semitism, a bipartisan group of 167 U.S. House members sent a letter asking him to appoint one soon.

The letter, released Monday (March 13), asks Trump to “maintain and prioritize” the appointment in a time of rising anti-Semitism.

“During previous administrations, this office was crucial in documenting human rights abuses against Jewish communities abroad as well as developing and implementing policies designed to combat anti-Semitism,” the letter states.

The effort to defend the office of the special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism comes after a Bloomberg news report that the position and others at the State Department — including an envoy to the Muslim world — were on the chopping block.

A former special envoy, Ira Forman, has been speaking out on the necessity of the job he once held, noting the office’s relatively tiny budget, and also predicting that it would be retained.

Hannah Rosenthal, who also held the job, wrote in The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle that without the special envoy, combating anti-Semitism will no longer be a priority in the State Department.

“Now we will turn a blind eye. And at a time when we are seeing such an increase in acts of anti-Semitism in our country, it is unconscionable that such a tool in the U.S. foreign policy arsenal will be gone,” she wrote.

An array of Jewish groups, from the Anti-Defamation League to the Zionist Organization of America, also called on Trump to maintain the special envoy position, which was created by Congress in 2004.

Among the lead signatories of the letter were Reps. Eliot Engel of New York, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee; and Christopher Smith of New Jersey, who chairs its subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations.

About the author

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe has been a national reporter for RNS since 2011. Previously she covered government and politics as a daily reporter at the Charlotte Observer and The State (Columbia, S.C.)


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  • Then we need an ambassador to combat anti-Christian bias, anti-Islamic bias, anti-atheist bias and so forth. Jews are not the only ones who experience unreasonable bias. This discussion forum and the slant of many articles provided by RNS empirically demonstrates such bias on a common basis.

  • What you said in your 2nd and 3rd sentences is demonstrably true. Still, given the historic bias against Jews and its effects, I see no difficulty in retaining a position that already exists, though I am curious to know if there is any measurable evidence that the holder of the position has any practical influence. As a Christian who has not suffered any particular bias personally as yet (except occasionally in verbal ripostes on these pages), I fully expect to experience such bias in an increasing measure if present trends do not deviate from their plotted course. Jesus predicted that such would be the case until the end of the age, waxing and waning along the way. I have no idea when He will Return, but the closer we approach that day, the worse I expect it to get for Christians, here and around the world. This is not to turn the subject on its head, I posit that anti-Semitism will increase as well.

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