Dear President Biden and Secretary Blinken,
We write to thank you for your decades of leadership in the fight against antisemitism, and your commitment to protecting all marginalized communities, including Jewish Americans and the Jewish people globally. Today, around the world, Jews are facing abhorrent discrimination and attacks, Jewish communal institutions and synagogues require armed guards, and anti-Jewish bigotry is flourishing. We respectfully urge you to name an Ambassador to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism who has experience in addressing today’s complex and ubiquitous manifestations of antisemitism.
We need an Ambassador who publicly recognizes that antisemitism is not, and has never been, confined to any single political party or movement. Antisemitism is structural, systemic and institutionalized; it transcends partisan politics; it exists in nearly every space, on every continent, under every social, political and economic construct. Antisemitism can be found in the ideological right and left, among white people and people of color, among the wealthy and the working class, in the grassroots and leadership levels, at home and abroad, and among people who consciously and unconsciously harbor anti-Jewish biases. Antisemitism appears as a conspiracy theory, as scapegoating of the Jews, as a vicious accusation that Jews are uniquely responsible for the challenges, real or perceived, of any community––peddled even by some who genuinely believe themselves to be allies to the Jews. It can appear as an attack on Jewish religious observance, Jewish peoplehood or Jewish collective liberation. And when antisemitism of any form flourishes, Jewish lives are endangered.
Antisemitism cannot be fought in a vacuum—and confronting this challenge will advance all marginalized peoples. In naming someone who will vigilantly track all forms of antisemitism, a force that animates white supremacy and thus imperils every marginalized community in the world, the State Department will also be better equipped to monitor and combat anti-Black racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Asian hate, homophobia, transphobia, right-wing nationalism, misogyny, and other forms of oppression. By overcoming antisemitism as a barrier to collective empowerment, the Ambassador will be able to assist the State Department in the pursuit of policies addressing urgent international priorities, including economic growth, gender justice, climate action, public health, human migration, and much more.
The U.S. Department of State took an important step in 2010 in adopting the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia working definition of antisemitism, making clear that the U.S. government will not tolerate the erasure of Jewish history, peoplehood, sovereignty and security, or the demonization of the 95% of global Jews who identify as Zionists. We are grateful for your declaration of support for a nearly identical definition by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, including its examples of contemporary antisemitism. Because antisemitism morphs to fit new realities, when applied carefully and appropriately, these help illustrate its constantly shape- shifting threat.
We are grateful to you both for giving serious consideration to this selection, especially since the Special Envoy is now an Ambassador-at-Large position with the full weight and resources of the U.S. Department of State. We know that several brilliant, experienced and highly qualified individuals are being considered for this critical role, and we hope to see it filled soon––for the Jewish community, for all marginalized peoples, and for the restoration of principled American leadership in the world.
Zioness Movement Board of Directors and Progressive Jewish American Leadership