Biden nominates Holocaust historian as special envoy to combat antisemitism

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President Biden on Friday nominated Holocaust historian and Emory University professor Deborah Lipstadt to serve as a special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism.

Lipstadt, who was the founding director of Emory’s Institute for Jewish Studies and has served in roles at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, was viewed as the likely choice for the position.

She has written a number of books on the Holocaust and was also previously a member of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Religious Persecution Abroad.

If confirmed by the Senate, Lipstadt will have the rank of ambassador and will be responsible for developing and implementing policy to combat discrimination against Jewish people worldwide.

Congress moved to elevate the special envoy on antisemitism to the rank of ambassador in January. The position was filled by Elan Carr, whom former President Trump tapped in 2019, until he left office on Jan. 20.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers wrote to Biden in February urging him to quickly nominate someone to fill the envoy position, citing a rise in antisemitism and antisemitic rhetoric.

Melissa Rogers, the executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said at a conference earlier this month that Biden would soon announce his nominee.

Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and United Nations Gilad Erdan welcomed Lipstadt’s nomination on Friday.

“As an accomplished author and historian, Dr. Lipstadt has dedicated her life to fighting antisemitism and preserving the memory of the Holocaust,” Erdan said in a statement. “Antisemitism is the oldest and most widespread form of hatred and the recent wave of antisemitic attacks against Jews around the world and in the U.S. serves as a reminder that no place is safe from antisemitic hatred.”

The nomination also generated praise from members of Congress.

“I first met Deborah Lipstadt in 1990 when she was the resident scholar on a trip to Poland and Israel. For decades, she has served as both academic and activist, inspiring policymakers to confront the harsh realities of antisemitism in our world and fight for justice,” said Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), who sponsored the bill to elevate the special envoy position. “I can’t imagine a better, more qualified person to lead the United States’ efforts to combat antisemitism.”

The announcement comes after a disturbing incident of antisemitism took place at the State Department. Earlier this week, a swastika was found carved into an elevator in Foggy Bottom. The agency is now investigating the incident.

“Let me be clear: Anti-Semitism has no place in the State Department, in my Administration, or anywhere in the world. It’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor and stand up to bigotry wherever we find it,” Biden tweeted Tuesday evening in response.

—Updated at 4:31 p.m.

Tags Antisemitism Brad Schneider Deborah Lipstadt Donald Trump Elan Carr Joe Biden

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