(JTA) — President Donald Trump reportedly is considering cutting a number of special envoy positions, including one dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, as part of a forthcoming budget proposal.
Trump will propose increasing defense spending by $54 billion and make cuts to federal agencies to accommodate the 10 percent defense increase in the new budget plan, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing unnamed administration officials.
As part of these cuts, Trump is considering whether to nix some special envoy positions, including ones dealing with anti-Semitism, climate change and Muslim communities, according to Bloomberg.
Congress mandated the position of special envoy for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism in 2004 with the passage of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act. The measure directs the State Department to establish the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, to be headed by the special envoy.
The State Department page for the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism now comprises a brief description of the office, with a link to the archived reports compiled by the office during the Obama administration. Still on the website is the State Department definition of anti-Semitism, including how certain types of attacks on Israel qualify.
The White House did not respond immediately to JTA seeking comment on the Bloomberg report.
Ira Forman, the former executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, most recently served in the envoy position under President Barack Obama. Forman’s LinkedIn page lists him as having served in the position; Trump has not named a replacement.
“I can’t believe someone at the White House won’t have better sense than to realize that this is a disaster,” Forman told Jewish Insider. “I just can’t believe that they would even think of this given the relatively small budget needed to run this office. The office exists by legislation. It’s just a matter of someone signing up to fund it. This is as bipartisan as an issue as you can get, and I just hope folks at the White House come to their senses.”
On Monday, the Trump administration denounced vandalism of Jewish cemeteries and bomb threats made against Jewish community centers across the country hours after at least 21 Jewish community centers were hit with bomb threats in the fifth wave of such incidents this year, and a day after about 100 headstones were found toppled at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia in the second such incident in a week.
“The president continues to condemn these and any other form of anti-Semitic and hateful acts in the strongest terms,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer, adding that “[n]o one in America should feel afraid to follow the religion of their choosing freely and openly.”
Last week, Trump — following pressure from Jewish groups and political leaders to condemn anti-Semitism in the wake of what has been called an uptick in incidents since he was elected — said “Anti-Semitism is horrible and it’s going to stop, and it has to stop.”
Trump came under fire earlier this month for his response to a reporter who asked at a news conference about the prior JCC bomb threats and what the government’s response would be to “an uptick in anti-Semitism.” Although the reporter did not suggest Trump was anti-Semitic, the president answered by denying he is an anti-Semite and called the question “insulting.” He ordered the reporter to sit down and did not answer the question.