Faith Leaders Urge Tillerson: Appoint State Department Envoy to Monitor Anti-Semitism

New York, NY, June 28, 2017 … Nearly two dozen of the nation’s most prominent religious leaders – including representatives of the Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, Evangelical, Hindu, Sikh and Jewish faiths – have signed on to an open letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to fill the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the State Department.

The letter was written by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and circulated among religious leaders who have been key allies against anti-Semitism and who have used their moral authority and their voices to forcefully condemn it in the past.

“As faith leaders who care deeply about combating anti-Semitism, we know how critically important this Special Envoy role has been in representing our government abroad on a range of issues affecting the safety and welfare of Jewish communities,” reads the interfaith letter to Secretary Tillerson. “We urge you to clarify your position and commit to filling this statutorily mandated appointment as soon as possible.”

The Special Envoy position was created under the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004 and, for the last 13 years, under three envoys appointed by Republican and Democratic administrations, the office has provided annual updates and worked with governments to convene meetings on the issue and to establish the State Department’s working definition of anti-Semitism.

The interfaith letter also noted the March 2017 letter from a bipartisan group of 167 members of Congress, which emphasized the important responsibility of the U.S. as a global leader in the fight against anti-Semitism and in promoting human rights, as another sign that maintaining the position has strong bipartisan support.

Secretary Tillerson, most recently in testimony before Congress on June 14, has described general concerns about designated envoys and noted with respect to the anti-Semitism envoy that, “I have not made a decision about this particular special envoy.”

ADL recently launched an online petition gathering signatures from members of the public concerned about the vacancy, and urging the president and secretary of state to commit to appointing a Special Envoy on anti-Semitism as soon as possible.

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