WASHINGTON – The US Senate passed a bipartisan bill on Wednesday that seeks to elevate the position of the special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism to the rank of ambassador.
The legislation directs the envoy to report directly to the secretary of state without receiving another portfolio of issues.
The Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Act dictates that the envoy should be a person of recognized distinction in the field of combating antisemitism or religious freedom. He or she shall be the primary adviser and coordinator for US government efforts to monitor and combat antisemitism and antisemitic incitement in foreign countries, it says.
The legislative effort was led by US senators Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts).
The bill will now move to the House of Representatives for a final vote.
“Antisemitism, unfortunately, is on the rise and we must do all we can to combat this ancient evil,” Rubio said in a statement. “I welcome the passage of this important bipartisan bill that will ensure that the US remains a leader in the fight against antisemitism worldwide.”
“As we have seen far too often, antisemitism is surging in New York state, our country and across the world,” Gillibrand said in a press release. “We must do everything in our power to confront – and end – this growing threat,” she added. “I will always stand with the Jewish community and fight against hatred and prejudice in all its forms.
“Antisemitism continues to rise at an alarming rate across the globe,” Rosen said in a statement. “To equip the State Department to better address rising antisemitism, it is critical that we elevate the role of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism to Ambassador-at-Large,” she added.
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said: “Congress has taken an important step today to ensure that our government can better fight rising antisemitism around the world.”
Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC director of international Jewish affairs, said elevating the position to the rank of ambassador “will enable the US to enhance our leadership addressing the scourge of antisemitism across the globe.”
Orthodox Union executive director for public policy Nathan Diament said the Jewish community “is very grateful for the Senate’s passage of this important legislation.”
“Sadly, we have seen a surge of antisemitic incitement around the world in recent years,” he said in a statement. “With the passage of this legislation, the Senate is providing powerful new tools to the State Department to lead impactful international efforts to combat antisemitism.”
In a joint statement, Hadassah president Rhoda Smolow and executive director/ CEO Janice Weinman said: “The United States Senate has today determined that the job of monitoring and combating antisemitism is worthy of our highest diplomatic rank. Similar legislation has already passed in the House of Representatives, putting Congress on the cusp of laying a marker in history.
“Hadassah applauds today’s bipartisan action in the Senate, which clearly demonstrates America’s outstanding commitment to combating a rise in antisemitism that has all too often led to violence.”