Giving her first address as the U.S. State Department’s new special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt told a gathering in New York City that she insisted on ending her oath of office with “so help me G-d.” Lipstadt will need every bit of support she can get, she said.
Speaking on Thursday at an anti-Semitism conference hosted by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Lipstadt laid out her perspectives on the interconnectedness of anti-Semitism and her plans for changing its course. It was her maiden speech, coming nearly two months after she was confirmed by the Senate.
“We are reminded, almost daily, by the news we read and watch, in the conversations we have with each other and through our work, that anti-Semitism is on the rise—and tragically, it is on the rise here at home in America, not just overseas, where I am tasked to tackle the problem,” said Lipstadt, noting the avenues through which anti-Semitism is linked to other hatreds, including those on the far-left and far-right.
“We must recognize and identify that interconnectedness because unless we fully understand this aspect of the malicious poisonous nature of anti-Semitism, we cannot see it for what it truly is. And unless we see it for what it really is, we cannot fight it,” she said.
Lipstadt recalled her testimony before told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during her confirmation hearings, in which she warned of ignoring or minimizing the dangers of anti-Semitism when it came from one’s preferred political wing.
“We must never delude ourselves that anti-Semitism comes from only one political, social, ethnic or religious direction. One of the striking features about the ubiquitous nature of anti-Semitism is that irrespective of where it is coming from, it relies on the same template of charges. People who agree on nothing else or, better put, disagree on everything else agree on the evils of the Jew. The fact is that some extremists on both ends of the political spectrum share a diabolical view of the Jew strengthens anti-Semitism,” she said.
Lipstadt closed with warnings against the double standards frequently applied to Israel and the Holocaust distortion that has emanated from Russia in its three-month-long war on Ukraine. She also committed to encouraging other countries to embrace the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.
Lipstadt is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Yeshiva University’s graduation ceremony later on Thursday.