Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the East Room of the White House in Washington , DC on Feb. 15, 2017 with an Israeli flag in the background.
(photo credit: SAUL LOEB / AFP)
Four previous US envoys to fight antisemitism and promote religious freedom called on President Donald Trump to fill the two positions, which are currently empty.
The letter, sent by the Lantos Foundation, noted “spreading anti-Semitism both at home and abroad” and persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East and Asia.
The signatories include two former envoys for international religious freedom, Robert Seiple and Rabbi David Saperstein, the former director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center; the two previous envoys for combating anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal and Ira Forman, and the president of the Lantos Foundation and former chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Katrina Lantos Swett.
“The perilous state of religious freedom around the globe confirms the wisdom of America’s leaders in creating a legal framework for addressing these abuses and ensuring that our foreign policy remains focused on protecting and advancing these fundamental rights,” read the letter sent Tuesday by the human rights-focused nonprofit.
“The positions of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism are absolutely critical components of that legal framework.”
There have been conflicting reports as to whether Trump will fill the anti-Semitism envoy position, but in April, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement to JTA that the Trump administration would appoint someone to serve in the role.
Trump pledges to confront antisemitism while speaking at US Capitol Rotunda in Washington for Holocaust Memorial Museum's National Days of Remembrance ceremony , 4.25.17 (REUTERS)
The Lantos Foundation is named after Tom Lantos, a US lawmaker, human rights activist and the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress. Lantos died in 2008 at 80.