US Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY) speaks during a pro-Israel rally organized by local Jewish communities in front of City Hall in New York.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – A letter is circulating on Capitol Hill that calls on US President Donald Trump to preserve a State Department position devoted to combating antisemitism worldwide, amid rumors he might eliminate the post.
The letter has already been signed by several House Democrats and Republicans, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-New York), one of its backers, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
According to a report in Bloomberg, the Office to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism is one of several within the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Affairs that Trump may cut in his budget plan. The White House will propose massive cuts to the State Department that will target its human rights and foreign aid programs.
“We’re going to send a letter to the president in the coming days that one of his priorities should be to appoint an envoy,” Engel said. “The rumor we’re hearing is that this is one of the positions that would be eliminated.”
Ira Forman served as the special envoy on antisemitism from 2013 until Trump’s inauguration in January. The new president has not yet appointed a special envoy to the Middle East peace process, a White House liaison to the Jewish community or an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, and the White House has declined to comment on whether he intends to do so.
Senior officials from the Simon Wiesenthal Center commended Trump for opening his speech on Tuesday to both Houses of Congress by denouncing the recent threats to Jewish Community Centers and attacks on Jewish cemeteries, but urged him commit to ensuring full funding for the US State Department’s special envoy on antisemitism, a position it said should be elevated to ambassador status.
“Ever since its creation under then-president George W. Bush, the special envoy on antisemitism has made clear America’s unflinching commitment to fight history’s oldest hate abroad as well as at home. Given the reality of the multiplicity of antisemitic threats, we urge US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to elevate the envoy to ambassador status,” Center officials said.Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.