Lawmakers urge Rex Tillerson to appoint special envoy on anti-Semitism


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Dozens of Congress members have called on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to say whether the State Department will hire a special envoy for the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

In a bipartisan letter sent last Friday, Reps. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Chris Smith, R-N.J., were among 116 House lawmakers who also urged President Donald Trump to keep the office staffed following reports that it would be left empty after July 1.

The special envoy post, which was mandated in the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, has been unfilled since Trump’s inauguration in late January. The special envoy monitors acts of anti-Semitism abroad, document the cases in State Department reports, and consults with domestic and international nongovernmental organizations.

Smith, the primary author of the 2004 amendment, said in a news release that the position is especially important now “in the fight against this terrible hate that is on the rise in the world.”

“Seventy-two years after the Holocaust ended,” he said, “anti-Semites continue to target the Jewish people for discrimination, destruction of property and even death.”

Separately, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote Trump urging the president to name an anti-Semitism envoy and a White House liaison to the Jewish community.

“These officials have been critical for working with all levels of government, including multilateral organizations to facilitate the protection of, address stereotypes and prejudice towards, and provide education and community and coalition building tools for the wider public on and with Jewish communities, including Jewish-American heritage,” Cardin said in his letter sent Wednesday.

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