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Biden to tap ambassador to combat antisemitism soon: White House official

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President Biden will soon nominate a State Department ambassador-at-large to combat and monitor antisemitism, the top White House official for religious engagement said at a national Jewish conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Melissa Rogers, the executive director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, told a conference hosted by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) that the president will soon nominate a top official in charge of monitoring antisemitism.

Rogers did not address who the president would nominate.

The announcement was welcomed by Mark Wilf, owner of the Minnesota Vikings and chairman of the JFNA Board of Trustees.

“Our JFNA leadership has been calling for the appointment of a State Department Ambassador at large to Combat and Monitor Antisemitism, and we commend the Biden Administration’s commitment to us today to announce the official appointee in the coming weeks,” he said in a statement.

The JFNA event, called the “Cabinet Activation against Antisemitism,” brought Jewish leaders from around the U.S. to address upticks in antisemitism in the country, including concerns of Jewish students on college campuses and the role of social media in amplifying hatred toward minority and ethnic groups.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in June told lawmakers during a hearing that he expected a candidate to combat antisemitism would be before the Senate “very, very, soon.”

Congress elevated the State Department’s top envoy to combat antisemitism to the rank of ambassador in January, allowing for the ambassador to report directly to the secretary of State.

Former President Trump appointed Elan Carr in 2019 to be the special envoy to combat antisemitism, and he served until the end of the administration on Jan. 20.

In February, more than 50 bipartisan lawmakers wrote to Biden urging him to swiftly appointment someone to the ambassador position, citing a rise in antisemitism across the globe and prevalent displays of antisemitic rhetoric in the U.S.

They noted specifically that amid the mob of Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6 was a man wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt, referring to the Nazi death camp where an estimated 1.1 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

In the U.S., antisemitic instances and attacks typically outpace hate crimes against other religious and minority groups.

Assaults and incidents against Jews and Jewish institutions spiked in May, amid tensions between Israelis and Palestinians in Jerusalem and an outbreak of fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

At that time, Jewish Democratic lawmakers urged Biden to quickly fill the position of ambassador-at-large to combat antisemitism. 

–Updated at 3 p.m.

Tags Antisemitism Antony Blinken Donald Trump Joe Biden State Department

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