WASHINGTON – The US Senate voted to confirm, without objection, Deborah Lipstadt’s nomination as the next special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism.
“It is time for the Senate, at long last, to confirm this nominee to fight antisemitism around the world on behalf of the United States, standing up for those values,” said Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia), who presented the nomination on the Senate floor this past week.
“This isn’t ancient history, this is recent history,” he said. “And, right now, as we speak, the scourge of antisemitism is rising again in this country and around the world. If we mean the words ‘never again,’ then at long last, let’s confirm Deborah Lipstadt to fight antisemitism on behalf of the United States.”
Lipstadt, a professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta, was the founding director of the Institute for Jewish Studies.
She is an 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.
British writer and Holocaust-denier David Irving sued 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.
Lipstadt was previously a member of the US Department of State’s Advisory Committee on Religious Persecution Abroad and was a board member of Hillel International, The Defiant Requiem and The Covenant Foundation. She received a BA from City College in New York and an MA and PhD from Brandeis University.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder released a statement praising Lipstadt.
“I want to send my and the World Jewish Congress’ heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, whom I admire greatly, on her long-overdue confirmation as US special envoy on antisemitism at the rank of ambassador,” he wrote.
“When President Biden first nominated Dr. Lipstadt to this critically important position, I said that he and Secretary of State Blinken could not have found anyone better qualified to confront today’s challenges, and I am tremendously relieved that we will now have her powerful voice and moral leadership in the global fight against virulent and surging Jew-hatred – for make no mistake about it, that is what antisemitism is,” Lauder wrote. ”I look forward to working closely with her in the months and years to come.”
HADASSAH NATIONAL president Rhoda Smolow also released a statement congratulating the new envoy.
“Hadassah congratulates Ambassador Lipstadt on her confirmation by the Senate as the person who will serve the American people in its national effort to combat globally rising antisemitism,” the statement reads.
“As an explicitly Zionist organization and stakeholder in the Land of Israel, Hadassah knows firsthand the role antisemitism plays in threatening the safety and security of Israel and the Jewish people. The task before us is great, but Ambassador Lipstadt is the right person to help us build a more peaceful and tolerant world.”
Lipstadt’s nomination had been postponed several times and took eight months to be finalized. Earlier this month, it was stalled at the request of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), who objected to the nomination.
Johnson announced his objection because of 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?”
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 [the wrong way], 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.”