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May 18, 2018  RSS feed
World News

Text: T T T

Religious leaders urge State Dept, to name anti-Semitism monitor

WASHINGTON (JTA) – More than a thousand lay and clergy leaders across a range of faiths signed a petition urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to name an anti-Semitism monitor.

“Around the world, violent and even lethal attacks have been made on Jews and Jewish institutions; physical harassment of Jews who wear a kippah in public is all too common,” says the petition addressed to Pompeo, organized by the American Jewish Committee.

There has been no anti-Semitism monitor since President Donald Trump assumed office in January 2017, and Rex Tillerson, Pompeo’s predecessor, emptied the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism of staff last summer.

“New campaigns of Holocaust distortion have been waged and there are proposals in some countries to ban central Jewish religious practices. Mr. Secretary, anti-Semitism starts with Jews, but doesn’t end there: when any minority is threatened, everyone is less safe,” the petition says.

The signatories include a wide geographical range of Jewish lay leaders, rabbis covering all streams of Judaism, and hundreds of Christian leaders. There are also a number of Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Bahai leaders.

Tillerson said he wanted to transfer duties from special envoys to State Department staff as a cost-saving measure. A range of Jewish organizations and lawmakers reminded him that the anti- Semitism monitor is mandated by Congress and is required by law to be filled.

Meanwhile, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a bill – with bipartisan support – that would elevate the anti-Semitism monitor to ambassador level and require the president to nominate someone for the position within 90 days of its passage.

The bill now goes to the full House. With a companion bill introduced in the Senate, the likelihood of it becoming law is enhanced.


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