Congressman Vern Buchanan

Representing the 16th District of Florida

Buchanan to Sec. Tillerson: Do NOT Close Anti-Semitism Office

Jun 27, 2017
Press Release
Calls Plans to Vacate Special Envoy Post a “Step Backward”

Anti-Semitic Incidents Spiked 86% in First 3 Months of 2017

WASHINGTON — Congressman Vern Buchanan today urged Secretary of State Rex Tillerson not to close down an office that was created in 2004 to fight anti-Semitism throughout the world.

In a letter to the State Department, Buchanan outlined his opposition to the administration’s plans to leave the critical position of Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism unfilled.

Secretary Tillerson recently testified before Congress that the State Department may close the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. This post has played an important role in helping to safeguard vulnerable Jewish communities at home and abroad. The Special Envoy’s office was established under President George W. Bush.

“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, noting that anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. have spiked 86 percent in the first three months of this year alone. “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.”

Text of the letter can be found below.

June 27, 2017

 

The Honorable Rex Tillerson
Secretary
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Tillerson:

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.

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. 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.

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. 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. 

Sincerely,

  

Vern Buchanan

Member of Congress