WASHINGTON (JTA) — More than a thousand lay and clergy leaders across a range of faiths signed a petition urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to name an anti-Semitism monitor.
“Around the world, violent and even lethal attacks have been made on Jews and Jewish institutions; physical harassment of Jews who wear a kippah in public is all too common,” says the petition addressed to Pompeo, organized by the American Jewish Committee and released Tuesday to media.
There has been no anti-Semitism monitor since President Donald Trump assumed office in January 2017, and Rex Tillerson, Pompeo’s predecessor, emptied the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism of staff last summer.
“In far left and far-right political parties in Europe and elsewhere, anti-Jewish rhetoric is on the rise as is the demonization of Israel and intimidation of its supporters,” the petition says. “New campaigns of Holocaust distortion have been waged and there are proposals in some countries to ban central Jewish religious practices. Mr. Secretary, anti-Semitism starts with Jews, but doesn’t end there: when any minority is threatened, everyone is less safe.”
The signatories include a wide geographical range of Jewish lay leaders, rabbis covering all streams of Judaism, and hundreds of Christian leaders, including Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, and Rev. Katharine Henderson, the president of Auburn Seminary, an influential Protestant institution based in New York. There are also a number of Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Bahai leaders.
Tillerson said he wanted to transfer duties from special envoys to State Department staff as a cost-saving measure. A range of Jewish organizations and lawmakers reminded him that the anti-Semitism monitor is mandated by Congress and is required by law to be filled.