House passes bill to appoint special envoy on anti-Semitism

House passes bill to appoint special envoy on anti-Semitism

THE U.S. HOUSE of Representatives on Jan. 11 passed legislation calling for the position of special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism to be swiftly filled. The bill would also strengthen the position to more adequately deal with a rise in anti-Semitism worldwide.

Under the bill, the special envoy would be elevated to the rank of ambassador at the State Department and would be the primary adviser to the U.S. government on fighting anti-Semitism.

The legislation was introduced by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J. Dist. 4), whose bill in 2004 originally created the post.

“Over the past decade, there has been a rapid rise in anti-Semitic acts and rhetoric in many countries: Jews harassed, assaulted, and even murdered; synagogues attacked; graves and cemeteries desecrated; anti-Semitic slurs; targeting the State of Israel with…demonization, double-standard, and de-legitimization…,” Smith said on the House floor.

“Anti-Semitic hatred is hardwired into the ideology of violent Islamist and white supremacist groups,” Smith said. “But this evil goes beyond those perpetrators. Politicians, entertainers, and public intellectuals across the philosophical spectrum have exhibited anti-Semitism.”

The House passed the legislation overwhelmingly in September, but the Senate failed to advance a similar version, and the bill lapsed when the 115th Congress ended in December. One of the new Democratic-led House’s first actions was to pass the bill; it now awaits action by the Senate. The president must nominate a candidate for the position within 90 days of the bill’s becoming law.

The original cosponsors of the legislation were Reps. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Marc Veasey (D-Texas), Lee Zeldin (D-N.Y.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), and Key Granger (R-Texas).

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