In 2004, Congress created the position within the State Department of the special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, a position that the Biden administration has elevated to the ambassadorial level. As a result, the Senate must now confirm the present nominee—the highly regarded Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt—but Republicans are holding up the process. Jonathan Tobin examines the situation, which, he notes, is
frustrating for [Lipstadt] and the organized Jewish community—where she has broad support—and which wants the post filled. It’s also unproductive since the Republicans, who are uniformly supportive of Israel, back the mission of the anti-Semitism envoy. But as much as . . . the Republicans ought to relent and let her be confirmed, it’s no good pretending that politics can be separated from the business of fighting anti-Semitism in the current environment.
Lipstadt deserves credit for her willingness to acknowledge—as some on the Jewish left and the Democratic party sometimes have trouble understanding—that Jew-hatred is present on both the left and the right. As such, she is probably as good a choice as can be imagined from a Biden administration that has unfortunately proved that it is in thrall to its leftist activist wing.
Lipstadt may deserve the post, but no one should be under any illusion that the decision didn’t have a lot to do with her willingness to play the partisan in 2020 by endorsing a shameful ad from the Jewish Democratic Council of America that likened the Trump administration to the rise of Nazi Germany.
The lesson that we take away from this episode can’t be just a partisan attack on Republicans for acting the way parties behave when they are out of power and wishing to make the White House pay for confirmations. As much as the post of anti-Semitism envoy should be filled right away, the problem is not so much how partisanship has made the Senate a dysfunctional institution, though that is certainly true. Rather, it’s the way too many people who ought to have known better were willing to sanction inappropriate Holocaust analogies or otherwise to link the battle against anti-Semitism to political sparring.