Over 100 Holocaust memorial groups and scholars urge Trump to keep office monitoring anti-Semitism


NEW YORK (JTA) — Over 100 Holocaust remembrance institutions, scholars and educators called on President Donald Trump to maintain a government office dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism following a report that he was considering nixing it.

The 120 signatories — among them Holocaust museums, anti-genocide groups, Holocaust studies programs, and Holocaust scholars and educators in the United States and Europe —  released a statement Monday calling on Trump to strengthen the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, which fights anti-Jewish sentiments abroad. The signatories also urged Trump to create a new office to combat anti-Semitism in the United States.

Last month, Bloomberg reported that Trump was considering cutting a number of special envoy positions, including the one dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, as part of a budget proposal.

“The need becomes clearer by the day as hatred, like a tidal wave, sweeps across the nation,” read the statement released Monday, which was written by members of the Association of Holocaust Organizations.

It cited vandalism of cemeteries, synagogues, churches and mosques, anti-Semitic vandalism and bomb threats made against Jewish institutions.

Jewish sites, including community centers, schools, museums and Anti-Defamation League offices, have been hit with more than 100 bomb threats so far this year, all of them hoaxes. In the past three weeks, Jewish cemeteries were vandalized in Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Rochester, New York.

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.

Jewish groups and lawmakers have urged the president to keep the office, including the American Jewish Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Earlier this month, a bipartisan House task force on anti-Semitism called in a letter on the Trump administration to rebuff reports that it was planning to cut the office. On Monday, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., one of the task force’s members, said in a release that 167 House members of both parties had signed on to a separate letter to Trump making the same demand.

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 an issue as you can get, and I just hope folks at the White House come to their senses.”

Recommended from JTA