The House on Friday voted overwhelmingly to pass Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) legislation calling for a swift appointment of a new Anti-Semitism Special Envoy at the State Department and strengthening the position—created by Smith’s legislative provisions in 2004—to more adequately deal with a rise in anti-Semitism worldwide.
“Over the past decade, there has been a rapid rise in anti-Semitic acts and rhetoric in many countries: Jews harassed, assaulted and even murdered; synagogues attacked; graves and cemeteries desecrated; anti-Semitic slurs; targeting the State of Israel with the ‘three Ds’–demonization, double-standard, and de-legitimization–as my friend the great Soviet refusenik and religious prisoner Natan Sharansky named them,” Smith stated on the House Floor. (To read Smith’s remarks, click here.)
“Anti-Semitic hatred is hardwired into the ideology of violent Islamist and white supremacist groups. But this evil goes beyond those perpetrators. Politicians, entertainers, and public intellectuals across the philosophical spectrum have exhibited anti-Semitism,” Smith said. “Strong American leadership is essential to battle this bigotry.”
Smith’s bill, the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act (HR 221) would ensure that the U.S. leadership position in fighting anti-Semitism worldwide—the Special Envoy at the State Department—would not only be promptly filled, but would be strengthened. The position, as well as the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, was created and required by Smith’s original provisions of the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004. Smith’s new bill would also mandate the timely nomination of a Special Envoy.
In the previous Congress, Smith also introduced identical legislation which passed the House, but stalled in the Senate. “Hopefully this time the Senate will act with urgency that reflects the persistence, prevalence, and peril of anti-Semitism,” Smith stated.
At a glance, under Smith’s bill, the Special Envoy position:
Would be elevated to the rank of Ambassador at the State Department and report directly to the Secretary of State;
Would be the primary advisor to the U.S. government in monitoring and combating anti-Semitism;
Would not be saddled with duties irrelevant to combating anti-Semitism, or “double-hatted”;
Must be filled (if vacant) by requiring the President to nominate a Special Envoy within 90 days of the bill becoming law and not later than 120 days after the position becomes vacant.
Smith was joined by original cosponsors of the legislation Reps. Brad Schneider (D-IL), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Peter King (R-NY), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Lee Zeldin (D-NY), Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Key Granger (R-TX).