Internal concerns at State Department over antisemitism envoy candidate

Republicans and Democrats alike have called on Trump to fill the special envoy position, which was created in 2004 by Congress to report on and combat antisemitism abroad.

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August 10, 2018 03:04
2 minute read.
U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he disembarks Air Force One after arriving in Singapore June 10

U.S. President Donald Trump waves as he disembarks Air Force One after arriving in Singapore June 10, 2018. (photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)

 
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WASHINGTON – US State Department officials are concerned the Trump administration’s leading candidate to fill a congressionally-mandated envoy position may be too old to perform in the job.

The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism post has been left vacant since US President Donald Trump took office. Now the White House plans to name George Klein, a fellow real estate magnate from New York and a founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), to the position, two sources familiar with the discussions told The Jerusalem Post.

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Klein has expressed interest but says he cannot travel extensively in the role due to his age, the sources said. That has raised internal concerns at State Department, which is floating other names to the White House.

A White House official told the Post there are “no announcements at this time.”

Klein chaired the RJC for years and remains an honorary head of the partisan Jewish organization. He made his fortune building in New York with real estate development company Park Tower Group, and has advised for several Republican candidates through the years.

He was an early supporter of Jeb Bush in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries. A profile of Klein on Bloomberg describes him as an “adviser to several Republican presidential administrations.”

Republicans and Democrats alike have called on Trump to fill the special envoy position, which was created in 2004 by Congress to report on and combat antisemitism abroad. The last figure to occupy the post was Ira Forman, who traveled extensively through Europe, highlighting antisemitic trends from France to Hungary.

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He too was a political ally of the president who appointed him, having worked on President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, in the Clinton administration and for the National Jewish Democratic Council.

Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, questioned why Trump has taken so long to make the appointment. “Given President Trump’s blatant refusal to condemn neo-Nazis and their supporters in the immediate aftermath of Charlottesville, the fact that the Trump administration took so long to fill this post comes as no surprise,” Soifer told the Post.

“We hope the new envoy will convince President Trump to take concrete actions to combat antisemitism wherever it manifests itself.”

“Until this point in his presidency,” she added, “Trump’s silence in the face of hatred has been deafening.”

Neither Klein nor the RJC responded to requests for comment.

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