In first trip abroad, US antisemitism envoy traveling to Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE

“Saudi Arabia is a very important country in the Gulf,” she said. “It has shown a willingness and openness to hosting me. We've gotten a very warm reception from them."

Deborah Lipstadt, President Joe Biden's nominee to be antisemitism monitor, testifies in the Dirksen Office building near the U.S. Capitol, Feb. 8, 2022.  (photo credit: RON KAMPEAS via JTA)
Deborah Lipstadt, President Joe Biden's nominee to be antisemitism monitor, testifies in the Dirksen Office building near the U.S. Capitol, Feb. 8, 2022.
(photo credit: RON KAMPEAS via JTA)

WASHINGTON – Deborah Lipstadt, the US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism, is traveling to the Middle East on her first trip abroad. She will travel to Israel, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is a very important country in the Gulf,” she said. “It has shown a willingness and openness to hosting me. We’ve gotten a very warm reception from them, and I’ve gotten strong support from my colleagues in [the State Department].

“In the light of the atmosphere and the worldview that’s been created as a result of being able to talk with them about normalizing the situation of the vision of the Jews, normalizing the understanding of Jewish history for their population, particularly the younger [generation], is really important,” she said.

“If someone opens the door to me and members of my team to fight this pernicious hatred [of antisemitism],” then she is willing “to go anywhere.”

“I said that that was someplace I’d like to go,” the envoy said, an idea that was warmly received both at the State Department and in Saudi Arabia. “They showed receptivity,” she said of the Saudi reaction.

 Deborah Lipstadt walks a red carpet for ''Denial'' during the 11th Rome Film Festival at Auditorium Parco Della Musica in Rome, Oct. 17, 2016. (credit: ELISABETTA A VILLA.WIREIMAGE VIA GETTY IMAGES ) Deborah Lipstadt walks a red carpet for ''Denial'' during the 11th Rome Film Festival at Auditorium Parco Della Musica in Rome, Oct. 17, 2016. (credit: ELISABETTA A VILLA.WIREIMAGE VIA GETTY IMAGES )

“I am not coming to discuss regional politics,” she said. “In my title, it couldn’t be more clear what I am about. If they are willing to discuss [that], I am willing to do it.”

Deborah Lipstadt, US Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism

Lipstadt’s visit comes a month before US President Joe Biden’s visit to the kingdom – and as the Biden administration is working to bring Israel and Saudi Arabia closer. However, she said that her visit has nothing to do with regional or security issues.

“I am not coming to discuss regional politics,” she said. “In my title, it couldn’t be more clear what I am about. If they are willing to discuss [that], I am willing to do it.”

State Department statement

According to the State Department, Lipstadt will meet with senior governmental and civil society interlocutors during her 11-day trip “to discuss important changes underway in the Middle East.”

“Her engagements will emphasize promoting interfaith understanding, as well as combating intolerance and anti-Jewish sentiment,” the State Department said in a statement. “Ambassador Lipstadt intends to build on the profoundly important Abraham Accords to advance religious tolerance, improve relations in the region and counter misunderstanding and distrust.”