Jewish orgs. urge House to pass bill to raise status of antisemitism envoy

“It’s critical that this legislation makes its way to the president,” Weinman told the Jerusalem Post.

US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism, Elan Carr, speaks during a news conference in Munich, Germany, October 29, 2019. (photo credit: ANDREAS GEBERT/REUTERS)
US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism, Elan Carr, speaks during a news conference in Munich, Germany, October 29, 2019.
(photo credit: ANDREAS GEBERT/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – With 10 days until the 116th Congress dissolves, Jewish organizations are urging the House of Representatives to pass legislation that would elevate the State Department’s envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism to the rank of ambassador.
Last week, the US Senate passed the bipartisan Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Act. The legislation directs the envoy to report directly to the secretary of state and prohibits the person from being double-hatted with another portfolio of issues.
The bill emphasizes that the envoy should be a person of recognized distinction in the field of religious freedom or combating antisemitism. It also clarifies that she or he shall be the primary adviser and coordinator for US government efforts to monitor and combat antisemitism and antisemitic incitement in foreign countries.
The legislative effort is led by US senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).
The bill previously passed the House of Representatives, but after some amendments made in the Senate version of the bill, it moved back to the House, where it waits for a final vote.
Hadassah CEO and executive director Janice Weinman told The Jerusalem Post that “it’s critical that this legislation makes its way to the president.
“The threats facing Jewish communities around the world require the kind of leadership that only America can provide,” she added. “Hadassah is hopeful that the House will revisit the bill it passed last year, and the Senate passed this week, before this session ends.”
She added that Hadassah has found robust support on both sides of the aisle for elevating the special envoy to the rank of ambassador, which shows how serious the United States is in rolling back a global surge in antisemitism.
Asked to explain the significance of elevating the status of the envoy, she said that should this bill become law, “the officeholder will be equipped with the authority and the resources to hold foreign governments accountable and help move them toward policies that make the world safer and more tolerant – and that’s something everyone can agree to.”
Nathan Diament, the executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, told the Post that elevating the special envoy to ambassadorial rank would give the position – and thus its mission – even greater priority in the eyes of those leaders in other countries with whom the ambassador will engage, and also within the halls of the State Department, which is called upon to support this effort as well. Like Hadassah, the OU was advocating for such a move in the past two years.
“We hope that the House of Representatives will pass the bill before the end of the year, that the new administration will quickly name someone to the post and that the US Senate will rapidly confirm that nominee,” he added.
A person familiar with the legislative process told the Post that “it seems to be held up not because of the bill itself, but because the House’s leadership is negotiating some rules about committee assignments in the next session of Congress.
“There’s a whole bunch of bills that could move by unanimous consent, but while they are negotiating on something, they usually put everything on hold,” the person added.
Jason Isaacson, chief policy and political affairs officer at the AJC, told the Post that elevating the envoy’s status is “an appropriate response to an increasing threat.”
“Elevating the special envoy post to the rank of ambassador, a step AJC has strongly advocated, signals the commitment of the United States to applying further diplomatic firepower to the fight against antisemitism abroad,” he added.