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Tell Congress: Fully Fund State Department Office for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism

On March 16, 2017, President Trump released his budget blueprint for Fiscal Year 2018. This document proposed cuts in a variety of vital government agencies, including a 28% cut to the State Department from FY 2017 funding levels. With such deep gauges to the State Department ‘s budget as proposed, funding for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is vulnerable. This position is crucial for documenting human rights abuses against Jewish communities abroad, and it also develops vital programs and policies to combat anti-Semitism. In documenting anti-Semitic incidents abroad, the Special Envoy has worked closely with foreign leaders to address anti-Semitism in their countries and also inspired the creation of similar offices around the world.

Underfunding or fully cutting funds for the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism would signal to the rest of the world that the United States is abdicating leadership in this important area. Without this essential office, Jewish communities around the world will lose a crucial advocate and ally.

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  • Background

    In 2004, Congress passed the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act, which mandated the creation of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism within the State Department. This position was created in response to a concerning rise in anti-Semitism in Europe. Since its creation, the Office of the Special Envoy has worked around the world to document incidents of anti-Semitic hate crimes around the world. This information helps track trends in global anti-Semitism and develop more effective policies for combating anti-Semitism.

    While President Trump has proposed $10.1 billion in cuts (28% from FY 2017 levels) to the State Department budget, including the possible elimination of the Office of the Special Envoy, Congress ultimately determines the federal budget. As Congress works to draft and approve a FY 2018 budget, it is essential that the Office of the Special Envoy continues to receive full funding.

    Jewish Values

    In Pirkei Avot, Rabbi Hillel asks, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I?” (Pirkei Avot 1:14). As Jews, we are obligated to speak out against hate in all its forms, whether it is targeted our own communities or at Muslims, African Americans or other vulnerable peoples. We are also commanded “love your neighbor as yourself,” (Leviticus 19:18). As Jewish communities around the world continue to be targeted, we must remain committed to root out hate and anti-Semitism wherever it may manifest.

    Take Action

    Urge Congress to approve full funding for the State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting Anti-Semitism. At a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise at home and abroad, U.S. leadership in combatting anti-Semitic hate is more important than ever.

    For More Information

    For more information on this issue, visit the RAC’s issue page on anti-Semitism. You can also contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Shelby Friedman at (202) 387-2800.