Lawmakers press Trump to appoint liaison to Jewish community

Lawmakers press Trump to appoint liaison to Jewish community
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Lawmakers are pushing President Trump to quickly appoint a liaison to the Jewish community, as concerns grow over a spike in anti-Semitism in the U.S. and abroad.

Forty-four lawmakers representing both parties signed a letter to the president sharing their concerns that the post is still unfilled.

"We write to encourage you to continue the forty-year tradition of appointing a White House liaison to the Jewish community," states the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill.

"While it is still early in your term, increased anti-Semitism in the United States, the rise of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and persecution of religious minorities across the globe create an urgent need for a designated point of contact to work with and provide outreach to the American Jewish community."

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“It is more important now than ever before that we redouble our efforts for this critical cause,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) told The Hill. “I strongly support the appointment of a liaison to the Jewish community, which is why this letter was sent to the president.”

The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), along with Zeldin and Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.).

They cited a growing number of troubling anti-Semitic incidents in recent months that have worried lawmakers.

"Following the election we've witnessed a wave of hate crimes and anti-Semitism," said Rosen.

“Our government must remain acutely aware of the diverse needs facing the Jewish community,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), another signatory, told The Hill. “I am hopeful that the bipartisan support expressed by my colleagues for the continuation of these positions and the advocacy of so many Jewish organizations will convince this administration that it needs to act.”

The tradition of tapping a liaison to the Jewish community dates back to the Carter administration.

Lawmakers also noted that the position does not require Senate confirmation, removing one potential obstacle to acting quickly.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

A senior administration official reportedly told The Jerusalem Post in June that there were no plans to fill the post.

Chanan Weissman, a former State Department official, was the last to hold the post. He was appointed by former President Obama in May 2016.

Nadler said the Trump administration had already experienced "far too many hiccups vis-à-vis the Jewish Community."

He cited a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that failed to mention the Jewish people and what he saw as a slow response to hate crimes.

“There is a real concern that the administration is either not giving this the urgency it deserves or is not committed to it at all,” Nadler said.

Other lawmakers, though, praised Trump, while also encouraging him to take the next step on a liaison. 

“President Trump has demonstrated historic reverence for our ally Israel by being the first president to visit Israel on his first trip overseas,” Lamborn told The Hill. “He has also been a leader in addressing anti-Semitism since taking office."

"This letter is important because it calls attention to the next steps in the President’s continued leadership in this area,” the Colorado Republican added.

Trump spoke out against anti-Semitism, calling it "horrible" and saying it "has to stop" during a visit to the National Museum of African American History and Culture in February.

"This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism, we will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bear witness, and we will act," Trump said in April in another speech.

Lawmakers told The Hill that appointing a liaison would help Trump follow through on that pledge.

Some also noted that a special envoy position at the State Department aimed at monitoring and combating anti-Semitism is also unfilled.

“The U.S. has historically been a leader among the community of nations in fighting anti-Semitism, and we should not retreat from that responsibility," said Murphy.

Lawmakers expressed hope the White House would act on their letter. 

“Over the past 40 years, previous Presidents have reached out to Jewish communities to make our voices heard and designating an appointee in their administrations,” Rosen said.

“It's time President Trump did the same."

 

Letter to President on Jewish Liaison by M Mali on Scribd

This story was updated at 1:17 p.m.