The Department of State announced that it will retain the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, allaying past fears that it would be eliminated.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the decision to keep the special envoy to combat anti-semitism in a letter concerning the fate of 70 other special envoys sent to Sen. Bob Corker Monday. Tillerson initially indicated that he was considering eliminating the envoy, to the chagrin of Jewish advocacy groups, as he felt it weakened the administration’s focus on anti-Semitism. The decision to retain the envoy’s office reignited hopes that President Donald Trump’s administration will fill the currently vacant position. (Related: Religious Liberty Advocates Urge Trump To Keep Envoy Combatting Anti-Semitism)
“We commend Secretary Tillerson for listening to the voices calling for the appointment of the special envoy to counter anti-Semitism,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement. “This position has been an essential diplomatic and political tool in fighting anti-Semitism around the globe.”
Tillerson also announced in his letter that many other special envoy positions would be combined under the office of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. The move is intended to “eliminate redundancies that dilute the ability of a bureau to deliver on its primary functions,” a spokeswoman told Crux Now.
Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, daughter of the late California Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos, who created the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, applauded Tillerson’s decision to retain the special envoy in a statement on the Lantos Foundation’s website.
“It is good news indeed that the Administration will keep this essential office open and we intend to be vigilant in ensuring that an individual of the utmost skill and expertise is appointed to fill this position,” Swett wrote. “America has long been a beacon to the world when it comes to combating anti-Semitism in all its forms. In the aftermath of the horrifying events in Charlottesville just a few weeks ago, we must redouble our efforts to confront and defeat anti-Semitism both at home and abroad.”
Swett’s father was the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress.
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