Senate Schedules Hearing for Biden's Antisemitism Envoy After Months of Delay

Jewish organization heads welcomed the news of Deborah Lipstadt's hearing after heightened concern following the Colleyville, Texas synagogue attack and other antisemitic incidents

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
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Holocaust historian Prof. Deborah Lipstadt, 2019.
Holocaust historian Prof. Deborah Lipstadt, 2019.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels

WASHINGTON - The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday officially scheduled the confirmation hearing for Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. President Joe Biden's nominee for the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, for February 8 after months of delay.

Lipstadt, who taught at Emory University for nearly 30 years and has authored eight works on antisemitism and the Holocaust, said she was "grateful and pleased" that the committee finally scheduled her hearing. Republicans on the committee have been delaying Lipstadt's hearing due to past tweets critical of Republican lawmakers, notably committee member Sen. Ron Johnson.

Jewish Federations of North America Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Elana Broitman praised the development, saying "Jewish communities at home and around the world need an advocate and watchdog at the State Department to take action against the rising tide of antisemitism, and we look forward to a speedy confirmation." Other organizations, including the Orthodox Union and the Jewish Democratic Council of America, also welcomed news of Lipstadt's hearing.

A broad array of U.S. Jewish organizations and denominations have publicly pushed senators on the committee to hold Lipstadt's hearing without delay, highlighting both the growing concern surrounding antisemitism and Lipstadt's unrivaled qualifications. These calls have only grown stronger in recent days following the attack on the synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, as well as other antisemitic incidents occurring throughout the U.S.

Lipstadt first came to international prominence in the 1990s after she was sued by author David Irving for accusing him of Holocaust denial. Lipstadt won the case, and she was eventually portrayed by actress Rachel Weisz in the 2016 film "Denial" about the trial.

The antisemitism envoy is the country's highest-ranking public official tasked with combatting anti-Jewish prejudice. It was elevated to an ambassadorial-level position last December, adding weight to its mission of combating antisemitism at a global level, and the prospective envoy will have to be confirmed by the Senate prior to assuming the position.

The debate over the envoy's background had been a topic of fierce debate within the U.S. Jewish community — particularly between establishment organizations and progressive Jewish figures over whether criticism of the State of Israel constitutes antisemitism.

Many figures in the U.S.-Jewish establishment have bemoaned how politicized Lipstadt's nomination has become over the past several months, openly debating whether it was a mistake to elevate the position and subject it to politicization.

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