When the new administration took office on January 20, 2017, they failed to appoint a special envoy to head the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. Even after an 86% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the first quarter of 2017 with over 145 bomb threats to Jewish institutions and multiple Jewish cemetery desecrations, the position astonishingly remained unfilled. As of July 1, 2017, the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is officially closed, ensuring that no one within the administration of President Donald Trump is specifically working on combating anti-Semitism.
“The State Department’s closing the office is both short-sighted and ill-timed. Anti-Semitism remains a grim reality in today’s world and must be vigorously addressed. I’m quite frankly surprised given the positive actions by Ambassador Nikki Haley in fighting anti-Semitism at the United Nations, one finds the State Department’s actions baffling. I find myself asking if the ghost of John Foster Dulles is in the room,” said JWV National Commander COL Carl Singer.
After the Global Anti-Semitism Act of 2004 was signed into effect by President George W. Bush, the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has laid out a working definition of anti-Semitism as well as kept a tally of anti-Semitic incidents throughout the globe. This is particularly important because the new definition of anti-Semitism includes anti-Zionist activities that have crossed the line into anti-Semitism, which we all sadly know far too well can and does happen.
This year, a German court ruled that a 2014 bombing of a German synagogue was not anti-Semitic, but rather, it was anti-Zionist – even though the synagogue was targeted specifically because it was a Jewish institution and not an Israeli consulate. Because of the definition set by the special envoy to the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, this kind of attack would be considered a hate crime in the United States, not a simple act of arson, and it would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
When questioned in June about the special envoy position, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was non-committal about appointing an envoy and he insinuated that having a special envoy was counterproductive to fighting anti-Semitism. He explained that people who are responsible for implementing U.S. policy would somehow decide it was not their responsibility to fight anti-Semitism because someone else is already doing it – fighting anti-Semitism is everyone’s responsibility.
After the office was closed on the first, Shoshana Simones, a 29 year old Make-A-Wish “wish manager”, pulled into her home after her Fourth of July vacation to see a swastika and the word “Jew” spray painted in black on her home with her husband and young daughter in the car. These types of incidents will continue to persist until this administration decides to make fighting anti-Semitism a priority.
Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. urges the administration and Secretary Tillerson to immediately appoint a special envoy of the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism and have a working staff actively combating anti-Semitism. As the philosopher Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,” and good men are indeed doing nothing right now. JWV is committed to fighting this evil as we have always done. We ask people to write and call their representatives and senators, urging them to tell the administration to appoint a special envoy. If you need help finding your representatives, please contact JWV National Headquarte