WASHINGTON – Representatives from 21 US Jewish organizations sent a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee, urging the confirmation of Deborah Lipstadt.
“We write to urge you to swiftly fill the position of US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism by considering the current nominee,” reads the letter sent on Thursday.
Among the groups that signed the letter were the Jewish Federations of North America, the World Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League.
Lipstadt’s nomination has been stalled in the past few weeks and it is still unclear when the Senate will debate and vote to confirm her.
Republican James Risch of Idaho, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Jewish Insider this week he was concerned about past Lipstadt tweets in which she was critical of Republican lawmakers.
Other Republican lawmakers fault her for appearing in an ad during last year’s presidential campaign likening former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric to those of the Nazis in the 1930s.
“Filling this position is a high priority for our organizations and of utmost importance in fighting growing antisemitism and hate worldwide,” they wrote. “As Jewish organizations dedicated to protecting the rights and security of the Jewish people, we believe that the US Special Envoy position is crucial to addressing the global rise in antisemitic violence, harassment, vandalism, attitudes, and incitement.
“Every day that we delay filling this critical position, we are endangering people’s lives,” they wrote. “We cannot let antisemitism become a wedge issue in today’s polarized politics. To this end, we strongly urge you to prioritize filling this position, which is not only the right thing to do but also sends a powerful signal to governments around the world that the US takes combating antisemitism seriously and calls on them to do the same.”
In July, US President Joe Biden formally nominated Deborah Lipstadt as the next US ambassador to combat and monitor antisemitism. A professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, was the founding director of the Institute for Jewish Studies.
She is currently on the boards of the Jewish Forward Advisory Committee and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, and serves as a judge for the Rohr Prize in Jewish Literature.
During the administration of former president Bill Clinton, she served in several roles at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Due to the rise in antisemitism worldwide, several Jewish leaders called on the Biden administration in recent weeks to fill the position, which has been vacant since he took office.
Lipstadt is the author of eight books, including The Eichmann Trial, Holocaust: An American Understanding; Antisemitism: Here and Now; and Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust, 1933–1945.
Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, published in 1994, led British writer and Holocaust denier David Irving to sue her for libel in London in 2000. The trial resulted in a victory for Lipstadt, who in 2005 wrote her memoir History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier.
JTA contributed to this report