Florida Congresswomen Call for More Funds for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism

At the end of last week, two Florida congresswomen–U.S. Reps. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.–sent a letter to U.S. Sec. of State Antony Blinken “requesting the inclusion of $2 million for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism in the State Department’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget justification.”

Other signers included U.S. Reps. Don Bacon, R-Neb., Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., Chuck Fleishmann, R-Tenn., Kathy Manning, D-NC, Grace Meng, D-NY, and Brad Schneider, D-Ill/

“The current special envoy, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, is responsible for developing and implementing policies to combat antisemitism around the world, as well as engaging with foreign governments and international organizations to defend Jewish communities amid a global surge in antisemitic violence,” Wasserman Schultz’s office. Wasserman Schultz chairs the Interparliamentary Task Force to Combat Online Antisemitism.

“The recent explosion of online antisemitism, fueled by social media algorithms that promote hateful content, has had an undeniable impact on real-world attacks against Jews,” said Wasserman Schultz.“I’m confident in Ambassador Lipstadt’s ability to collaborate with international partners to reverse this alarming trend especially when she is provided the necessary resources.”

The letter is below.

Dear Secretary Blinken:

As you prepare your department’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget justification, we respectfully request you include $2 million for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism (Special Envoy). Antisemitism is on the rise across the globe and we must ensure our government provides adequate resources to address this ongoing challenge.

As you know, the Special Envoy is responsible for developing and implementing policies to combat antisemitism overseas and plays a critical role in urging and advising foreign governments to take measures to ensure the safety and security of their respective Jewish communities, including developing national action plans and appointing national coordinators. The current Special Envoy, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, and her team have so far represented the United States Government in more than ten countries and their engagements with foreign government officials, civil society, and others championing the fight against antisemitism will only grow as we see both an increase in antisemitic incidents and greater opportunity to engage with new partners.

In 2019, then United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, published a report on antisemitism that shared “serious concern that the frequency of antisemitic incidents appears to be increasing in magnitude” and that “antisemitism is toxic to democracy and mutual respect of citizens and threatens societies in which it goes unchallenged.”According to ADL’s Global 100 Survey, antisemitism remains persistent and pervasive around the world, with 26 percent of those surveyed harboring antisemitic attitudes.

A report from AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights highlights a record-high number of antisemitic incidents in 2020 in Austria, as well as a 25 percent increase in antisemitic incidents from 2019 to 2020 in the Czech Republic. According to Tel Aviv University’s Antisemitism Worldwide Report, France experienced a 74 percent increase and Canada saw a 54 percent increase in antisemitic incidents from 2019 to 2020. Additionally, according to surveys conducted by AJC, 60 percent of the general German population considers antisemitism a persistent challenge. This trend has been evidenced further by the Special Rapporteur’s 2022 action plan that noted antisemitism has only expanded since his 2019 report.

The Special Envoy has responded to this trend by embracing new opportunities and partnerships, especially those emerging from recent peace and normalization agreements between Israel and its neighbors. Ambassador Lipstadt has played a pivotal role in the Trilateral Working Group between the U.S., Israel, and the UAE and convened Ambassadors from the Middle East and Asia for a conversation on interfaith co-existence. She has also convened meetings with other U.S. Special Envoys and global counterparts to discuss various approaches to addressing this common challenge. Through these engagements, the Special Envoy has highlighted the United States’ commitment to increased tolerance and understanding among faiths in all parts of the world.

Congress increased funding for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism in the FY23 omnibus to $1.5 million. We now request the Administration build upon that progress and include two million for the Special Envoy specifically in the State Department’s FY24 budget justification. This will make clear to the world the United States’ steadfast commitment to combating this hate and will help the Special Envoy continue to address the alarming rise in antisemitism while advancing partnerships and opportunities to engage with like-minded international partners.

We appreciate your commitment to combating antisemitism across the globe and ensuring Jewish communities can practice their religion and feel safe no matter where they live. We welcome your consideration and look forward to continuing to partner on this important issue.

Kevin Derby
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