Human Rights First today expressed alarm over reports that the Trump Administration may not fill the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism position and plans to eliminate the staff positions of that office. The office, when filled and fully staffed, performs critical work documenting and preventing bias-motivated violations against Jewish communities. Human Rights First calls on President Trump to immediately appoint a new special envoy and maintain the office’s support staff and funding.
“At a time when antisemitism is on the rise both abroad and here in the United States, failing to appoint a new special envoy sends a message that promoting tolerance takes a backseat in our foreign policy,” said Human Rights First’s Susan Corke. “The president needs to prioritize filling this position and let the world know that America stands against hate and for inclusive democracy.”
News that the special envoy position may not be filled and that there are plans to eliminate the office’s existing staff was reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, by a reporter who spoke with a former State Department official under conditions of anonymity.
Established in 2004 under the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act, the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism performs critical work documenting bias-motivated violations against Jewish communities, designing and implementing mechanisms to better combat anti-Semitism, and building relationships with Jewish communities around the world. The special envoy is a major contributor to the State Department’s annual Human Rights Report, which in part catalogues human rights abuses against Jewish communities abroad.
On March 13th Human Rights First, along with a bipartisan group of 167 members of Congress and 12 supporting organizations, urged President Trump to prioritize filling the role. The call came in a letter, at a time when divisive anti-Semitic, populist and xenophobic rhetoric is on the rise in both the United States and Europe.
Human Rights First also calls on the administration to appoint a new Special Representative to Muslim Communities. The State Department position, which was established in 2009, acts as the U.S. government’s focal point of engagement with Muslim communities around the world to advance U.S. foreign policy goals, including religious freedom, combating intolerance, and countering extremism.
“President Trump and Secretary Tillerson need to demonstrate commitment to fighting antisemitism and other forms of intolerance at home and abroad,” added Corke. “The administration needs to keep, fill, fund, and staff this post, ensuring that tolerance remains the bedrock of American foreign policy.”
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