According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the remaining two half-time staff members of the State Department’s anti-Semitism monitoring office will be reassigned on July 1, leaving the office tasked with watching trends in anti-Jewish hate crimes and sentiment completely un-staffed.
“At full staffing,” the JTA noted, “the office employs a full-time envoy and the equivalent of three full-time staffers.” Those staffers, in turn, educate the rest of the department and the diplomats it employs on how to recognize and fight anti-Semitism throughout the world.
Now, the Office to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism, which was created by Congress in 2004, will be left empty amid a department-wide “reorganization” effort that’s left many senior positions unfilled since President Donald Trump took office in January.
Although the State Department told the JTA it “condemns attacks on Jewish communities and individuals,” the depletion of the anti-Semitism envoy appears to be an extension of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s distaste for special envoys, which he claimed are “counterproductive” last week in a hearing.
Congresspeople on both sides of the aisle reminded Tillerson in last week’s hearing before the House Appropriations Committee that “unlike other envoys,” the anti-Semitism office “is a statute and requires filling.”
“It is outrageous and offensive that Secretary Tillerson would even suggest appointing a Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism is unnecessary, particularly given that his State Department committed to filling the post back in April,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) told JTA last week. “As reports of hate crimes against Jews continue to rise in the United States and around the world, it is essential that Secretary Tillerson fill the Special Envoy position immediately.”