Israel finally has an antisemitism envoy - editorial

Rather than sticking to the staid tried and true, the appointment of Noa Tishby signifies an attempt by Israel to reach a different audience than it usually targets.

 Noa Tishby (photo credit: Courtesy)
Noa Tishby
(photo credit: Courtesy)

Antisemitism is a disease that’s not going away in the United States or Europe.

As reported in Sunday’s Post, antisemitic hate crimes in New York City were up a startling 92% in March 2022 compared to the same month in 2021, according to new data released by the New York City Police Department.

A total of 23 hate crimes against Jews were reported in the city during the month, 11 more than were reported in March 2021.

A report issued late last year by the American Jewish Committee found that nearly one out of every four Jews in the US had been the subject of antisemitism over the previous year.

Seventeen percent of respondents in the committee’s survey said they had been the subject of an antisemitic remark in person, while 12% said they were the victim of an antisemitic remark online. 

Deborah Lipstadt (credit: Courtesy Emory University)Deborah Lipstadt (credit: Courtesy Emory University)

As the situation continued to cause alarm, US legislators last month finally approved the Biden administration’s nomination for special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism – the esteemed Prof. Deborah Lipstadt.

Lipstadt’s credentials are undisputed. She’s a professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University in Atlanta, and was the founding director of the Institute for Jewish Studies. She is also an author of eight books, including The Eichmann Trial; Holocaust: An American Understanding; Antisemitism: Here.

When presenting her nomination to the Senate floor,  Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Georgia), stressed the urgency of the situation, both in the US and globally.

“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.”

Israel, which touts itself as the representative and protector of world Jewry, has also decided to take a more active role in fighting this scourge. On Monday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced that entertainer and pro-Israel advocate Noa Tishby was going to be the country’s inaugural ‘Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and the Delegitimization of Israel.’

Not a celebrated academic like Lipstadt, or a retired politician or military hero like so many Israeli government appointees, Tishby is a left-field choice, but one that makes sense.

Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Tishby has become a high-profile and articulate advocate for Israel within the US entertainment industry in Los Angeles, where she divides her time.

Media savvy and a strong presence on social media, Tishby is the author of the well-received and irreverent book  Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth where she tells the story of Israel and Zionism and tackles long-held myths about the country. 

Rather than sticking to the staid tried and true, the appointment of Tishby signifies an attempt by Israel to reach a different audience than it usually targets, one that utilizes the media platforms that most under-30s exclusively use – from TikTok to Instagram. 

Part of her job will be to focus on progressive circles and on strengthening ties with minority communities around the world in order to build a mutual front against racism and extremism. 

She will work with allied communities and foreign governmental organizations, elected officials and social media groups to fight this battle. She will also represent the foreign minister at official events and international forums dealing with antisemitism and delegitimization.

Undoubtedly, there are those who will say that appointing a ‘celebrity’ to a post to which the US has appointed a serious thinker is wrong. 

But, with antisemitism spiraling out of control, and with the distinction between anti-Israel delegitimization and Jew-hatred increasingly blurred, all efforts – both inside and outside the box – should be implemented.

We welcome Tishby – who has been part of the fight in an unofficial capacity for years – as Israel’s first special envoy to combat antisemitism. She has her work cut out for her.