Heinrich Leads Bipartisan Group Of Senators Urging Trump Administration To Combat Anti-Semitism, Appoint Special Envoy

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) led a bipartisan group of 41 U.S. Senators urging President Donald Trump to appoint a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, a position at the U.S. Department of State that has now remained vacant for over 15 months.

In a letter to President Trump, the senators emphasized the importance of the United States leading with action to combat anti-Semitism at home and abroad. 

“There has been an acute global increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the last year, often taking place in the form of violent attacks, bomb threats, vandalism, and hateful rhetoric spanning all levels of society,” wrote the senators. “The Special Envoy position and the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism are critical in the leadership role of the United States in guiding a rules-based international order that promotes peace, security and opportunity for all people. We hold firmly that no one should have to live in fear of bias and hate, and that no one should be persecuted as a result of their faith. Now more than ever, it is imperative that the United States upholds its commitment to freedom and human rights around the world.”

Senator Heinrich is a leading voice against extremism and anti-Semitism. Last year, he met with community leaders and toured the local Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Albuquerque after it received bomb threats and introduced bipartisan legislation to safeguard JCC's and other Faith-Based Community Centers. His legislation would allow Homeland Security Grant Program funds to be used to safeguard faith-based community centers across the United States and increase the federal penalty against making false bomb threats. Senator Heinrich has also called for congressional hearings on the alarming and unprecedented number of threats and attacks against faith-based community centers across the country.

In the United States, the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents documented a 57 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 – the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking such data in 1979.

“Thank you to Senators Heinrich and Portman for leading this important effort, and to the thirty-nine other Senators from both sides of the aisle who raised their voices to speak out. We enthusiastically supported this important effort because anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise in many countries overseas, and our government has been hamstrung in its response without an anti-Semitism envoy since January of last year. U.S. leadership is essential for addressing global anti-Semitism effectively,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO and National Director, Anti-Defamation League. 

The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Robert P. Casey (D-Pa.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). 

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

President Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500 

Dear President Trump: 

We write to urge you to appoint a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism at the U.S. Department of State— a position that has now remained vacant for over 15 months. There has been an acute global increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the last year, often taking place in the form of violent attacks, bomb threats, vandalism, and hateful rhetoric spanning all levels of society. It is critical that the United States lead with action to combat anti-Semitism at home and abroad. 

In the United States, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents documented a 57 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 – the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking such data in 1979. Meanwhile, Europe has seen a dangerous wave of anti-Semitism. Violent anti-Semitic assaults increased 34 percent in Britain according to the Community Security Trust in 2017, and according to the French Ministry of the Interior, increased 26 percent in France during the same period. Two Jewish houses of worship were firebombed in Sweden last year, including one in which Jewish youths were gathered inside.

The Special Envoy position at the State Department and the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism were established under the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act (Public Law 108-332), which Congress passed in 2004 with broad bipartisan support and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Since establishing the position and the office, Congress has consistently appropriated funding and provided support for both the envoy and the office. In addition, the explanatory statement on the FY17 Omnibus declared that "the Secretary of State is directed to fill the position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism authorized by Public Law 108-332 in a timely manner." In August 2017, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that the State Department would retain this important Special Envoy position.

Religiously motivated instances of discrimination, harassment, and violence are deeply troubling, and require robust international condemnation. Our nation was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and all people should be able to exercise this right. The Special Envoy position and the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism are critical in the leadership role of the United States in guiding a rules-based international order that promotes peace, security and opportunity for all people. 

We hold firmly that no one should have to live in fear of bias and hate, and that no one should be persecuted as a result of their faith. Now more than ever, it is imperative that the United States upholds its commitment to freedom and human rights around the world. By filling this important vacant position, you will be reasserting our nation’s commitment to combatting anti-Semitism on a global scale.

We urge you to appoint a qualified individual for this critical position as soon as possible.

Sincerely, 

Cc: The Honorable Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State