With the State Department set to end the post of special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism at the start of July, a Florida Republican is urging U.S. Sec. of State Rex Tillerson to keep the position.
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., called on Tillerson to ensure the post and its office survives. The office was created by then President George W. Bush back in 2004.
Buchanan, who sits on the House Ways and Means and the Budget Committees, made his case for why the office should be kept.
“Now, more than ever, the United States should send a clear message to the world that anti-Semitism in any form will not be tolerated,” Buchanan said, pointing to increased reports of anti-Semitic incidents at the national level. “We must start by filling the special envoy post responsible for monitoring and combating anti-Semitic activity. A failure to do so would be a step backward for Jewish communities in the United States and around the globe.”
Buchanan wrote Tillerson on the matter on Tuesday.
“I am writing to urge the State Department not to close down an office that was created 13 years ago to fight anti-Semitism throughout the world. Reports that the State Department is planning to vacate the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism are extremely troubling and send the wrong message at a time of escalating violence against the Jewish faith,” Buchanan wrote.
“For more than a decade, the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism has played an important role in helping safeguard vulnerable Jewish communities,” Buchanan added. “Established in 2004 under President George W. Bush, the office has put the United States at the forefront of the international fight to crack down on anti-Semitism by promoting tolerance and raising awareness on the world stage. For instance, the U.S. envoy joined an international protest in 2015 admonishing Hungary's plans to erect a life-size bronze statue of Balint Homan, a wartime politician who promoted the persecution of the country's Jewish population in the 1930s.
“From the desecration of Jewish cemeteries to the bomb threats at Jewish community centers, the recent outbreak of anti-Semitic activity on American soil must be condemned. The Anti-Defamation League reported that the number of anti-Semitic incidents nationwide spiked by 86 percent in the first three months of this year alone,” Buchanan concluded.