Lipstadt Committee confirmation scheduled for Wednesday

After an eight-month delay, Deborah Lipstadt is expected to be nominated by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. If confirmed, she will wait for a final full Senate vote.

US academic Deborah Lipstadt (C) exults 11 April 2000 the High Court in London after winning a libel case brought against her and Penguin publications by British revisionist historian David Irving. (photo credit: MARTIN HAYHOW / AFP)
US academic Deborah Lipstadt (C) exults 11 April 2000 the High Court in London after winning a libel case brought against her and Penguin publications by British revisionist historian David Irving.
(photo credit: MARTIN HAYHOW / AFP)

WASHINGTON – The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to vote on Wednesday on the nomination of Deborah Lipstadt to serve as special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. According to the committee’s schedule, Lipstadt’s confirmation is the first agenda item. If confirmed, she will wait for a final full Senate vote – some eight months after President Joe Biden announced his intention to nominate her to this position.

Last week, the committee voted on 11 nominations but postponed two other votes: Lipstadt’s nomination, and the nomination of Barbara Leaf to serve as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs. The reason for the delay in Lipstadt confirmation was a request of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), who objects to the nomination.

“At a time when the United States and its allies are working to put every conceivable pressure on Putin to stop his unprovoked brutal and illegal war against Ukraine, we have to have these nominees in place,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “This game is costing us. For all of my friends who love to wave the flag of how important it is to be leading the rest of the world and how forward-looking we should be – you’re not helping the cause. You don’t like a candidate? Vote against them. But this process of just holding and holding and holding makes no sense whatsoever.”

Johnson announced his objection over a past tweet with a news story about him titled “Senator Johnson slammed as ‘white nationalist sympathizer’ after race remarks.” Lipstadt shared the article a year ago on Twitter and added, “This is white supremacy/nationalism. Pure and simple.”

During her confirmation hearing last month, Johnson asked Lipstadt about it.

“Why did you go on social media and level these vile and horrible charges against people, including me, that you don’t even know?”

 US SEN. Ron Johnson speaks during a hearing in December. (credit: Alex Brandon/Reuters) US SEN. Ron Johnson speaks during a hearing in December. (credit: Alex Brandon/Reuters)

Lipstadt replied, “I would not do diplomacy by tweet. While I may disagree with what you said specifically, and I think that’s a legitimate difference, I certainly did not mean it, and I’m sorry if it was taken, and I’m sorry if I made it, in a way that it could be assumed to be political.”

Johnson told Lipstadt he appreciated and accepted the apology, but he would not vote for her confirmation.

“I think somebody that has had a 30-year professional career ought to know better,” Johnson said. “And when you’re being nominated and considered for confirmation to a position of diplomacy representing the United States, I certainly cannot support your nomination. I hope my other colleagues won’t either.”

Johnson’s office told The Jerusalem Post last week that the senator “accepted Ms. Lipstadt’s apology, but explained he would not support her nomination considering it is a non-partisan position of diplomacy, and she has proven she is anything but that.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt sharply criticized Johnson.

“The ego of one person is not more important than confirming the highly-qualified Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy,” he tweeted. “As Jews around the world face increasing violence and harassment, Senator Ron Johnson continues to play partisan games because his feelings got hurt. Disgraceful.”