Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism

The Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism (formerly the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism) is an office of the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights at the United States Department of State. The office "advances U.S. foreign policy on antisemitism" by developing and implementing policies and projects to support efforts to combat antisemitism.

Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism
Seal of the United States Department of State
Agency overview
Formed2004; 20 years ago (2004)
JurisdictionExecutive branch of the United States
Annual budget$1.75 million (2024)
Agency executive
Parent departmentU.S. Department of State
WebsiteOfficial website

The office was established by the Global Antisemitism Review Act of 2004 and is headed by the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism (SEAS), who reports to the U.S. Secretary of State. Congressional staffer Gregg Rickman was sworn in as the first Special Envoy in 2006. In 2021, the special envoy was elevated to an ambassador-at-large nominated by the U.S. president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The position was previously appointed by the Secretary of State.



The office's responsibilities under U.S. federal law (22 U.S.C. § 2731)[1][2][3] are:

  • monitoring and combating acts of anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement that occur in foreign countries;
  • providing input on antisemitism for two annual reports issued by the State Department:
  • consult[ing] with domestic and international nongovernmental organizations and multilateral organizations and institutions, as the Special Envoy considers appropriate



Bush administration


In 2004, President George W. Bush signed the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, creating an Office to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism reporting to the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL).[2] The State Department under Colin Powell had opposed the legislation, introduced by Congressman Tom Lantos, on grounds that the department already compiled information about antisemitism in its annual human rights and religious freedom reports.[4]

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appointed Republican congressional staffer Gregg Rickman as the first special envoy. Rickman was sworn in on May 22, 2006 and served until the end of the George W. Bush administration.[5][6]

During his tenure, Rickmann was involved in obtaining U.S. visas for Yemeni Jews. In December 2007, Rickman traveled to Yemen to assess the condition of the Jewish community there and to investigate a report of abduction, forced conversion to Islam, and marriage of a young Yemenite woman. Over 60 Yemeni Jews were resettled in the United States due to the efforts of Rickman's office and organizations such as HIAS.[7][8]

The first periodic report on antisemitism, "Contemporary Global Antisemitism: A Report Provided to the United States Congress", was published in March 2008.[9]

Obama administration


Hannah Rosenthal served in the post under the Obama administration from November 23, 2009 to October 5, 2012.[10][11] Rosenthal energetically expanded on Rickman's initiatives, issuing a more far-ranging report on global antisemitism in 2010, speaking broadly at conferences, and working closely with counterparts in the European Union and OSCE.[9]

Rosenthal was praised for formalizing the office's work and criteria, and for her personal involvement against anti-Semitic acts globally; however, she also received criticism from her predecessor Rickman and from Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, for including Muslim community leaders in joint activities against religious hatred.[11][12]

Rosenthal was succeeded on an interim basis by career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to Belarus Michael Kozak.[13] Kozak served in the role until Ira Forman, the former executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council, was sworn in as Special Envoy on May 20, 2013. He served until Obama's term in office ended in January 2017.[14][15][16]

Trump administration


In June 2017, five months into the Trump administration, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cast doubt on whether the post of Special Envoy would be filled during Trump's presidency.[17] Members of the House and Senate publicly expressed concern that the position was unfilled and called for Trump to make an appointment, at the same time calling on Trump to fill the vacant position of White House Jewish Liaison.[18][16] Congressional concern over the vacancy continued to grow throughout 2018 and early 2019.[19] On February 5, 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the appointment of Elan Carr, a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who had served as an active duty officer in the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.[20][19][21][22]

Biden administration


In 2021, the Special Envoy was elevated to an Ambassador-at-Large nominated by the U.S. President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.[1] At the beginning of the Biden Administration, the office's budget was $500,000 and operated with a skeletal staff of fewer than two full-time employees. Most of the office's positions are political appointees who leave when an administration ends.[23]

On July 30, 2021, President Joe Biden nominated scholar Deborah Lipstadt for this role.[24] Opposition from Senator Ron Johnson, whom she had tweeted was advocating "white supremacy/nationalism", delayed her nomination for many months.[25] Her initial nomination expired at the end of the year.[26]

Amidst the delays in confirming Lipstadt, the Biden Administration named Aaron Keyak to the post of Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. The deputy position was not at the ambassador level and did not require Senate confirmation.[27]

After re-nomination, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held hearings on her nomination on February 8, 2022. On March 29, 2022, the committee favorably reported her nomination out of committee. Her nomination was supported by all committee Democrats, as well as senators Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio.[25] Her nomination was confirmed by voice vote on March 30, 2022, and she was sworn in on May 3, 2022.[28]

Lipstadt was part of the Biden administration team that launched the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.[29]

The 2024 U.S. federal budget increased funding for the office from $1.5 million to $1.75 million. The budget increase followed robust support from officials in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate.[23]

List of special envoys

# Image Name Assumed office Left office President(s) served under
1   Gregg Rickman May 22, 2006 January 20, 2009 George W. Bush
2   Hannah Rosenthal November 23, 2009 October 5, 2012 Barack Obama
-   Michael Kozak
October 5, 2012 May 20, 2013
3   Ira Forman
May 20, 2013 January 20, 2017
- Office Vacant January 20, 2017 February 5, 2019 Donald Trump
4   Elan Carr February 5, 2019 January 20, 2021
- Office Vacant January 20, 2021 May 3, 2022 Joe Biden
5   Deborah Lipstadt May 3, 2022 Incumbent

See also



  1. ^ a b "H.R.221 (Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act)". Retrieved 2023-02-02.
  2. ^ a b 118 Stat. 1282, 1284
  3. ^ "Office of the Special Envoy To Monitor and Combat Antisemitism". Retrieved 2023-02-02.
  4. ^ "Bush signs anti-Semitism bill". Al Jazeera. 2004-10-17. Retrieved 18 August 2023.
  5. ^ Jordan, Mirmiam (October 31, 2009). "Secret Mission Rescues Yemen's Jews". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  6. ^ "Rickman, Gregg". United States Department of State. October 31, 2006. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  7. ^ "US State Dept. rescues 60 Jews from Yemen". Jerusalem Post. 2009-10-31. Retrieved 2023-02-07.
  8. ^ Berkman, Jacob (2009-11-03). "After report, Yemen operation is happily out in the open". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 18 August 2023.
  9. ^ a b Baum, Steven (2016). Antisemitism in North America: New World, Old Hate. Brill. p. 283. ISBN 978-9004307131. Retrieved 27 April 2024.
  10. ^ Fingerhut, Eric (November 24, 2009). "New anti-Semitism monitor sees role as reactive, proactive". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Kampeas, Ron (October 16, 2012). "Leaving State Department's anti-Semitism post, Hannah Rosenthal reflects on accomplishments". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  12. ^ Schuyler, David (May 3, 2018). "Rosenthal to retire as CEO of Milwaukee Jewish Federation". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  13. ^ Powell, Colin (2003) [1995]. My American Journey. Ballantine Books. p. 598. ISBN 0-345-46641-1. LCCN 2003091156.
  14. ^ "Reports of anti-Semitism increase". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Associated Press. May 20, 2013. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  15. ^ "Forman, Ira N." United States Department of State. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Cortellessa, Eric (June 26, 2017). "Former anti-Semitism envoys warn of 'terrible loss' of post under Trump". The Times of Israel. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  17. ^ Ziv, Stav (June 15, 2017). "Rex Tillerson: Anti-Semitism Could Get Worse With a State Department Special Envoy". Newsweek. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
  18. ^ Park, Sumner (July 11, 2017). "Lawmakers press Trump to appoint liaison to Jewish community". The Hill. Archived from the original on June 18, 2018. Retrieved June 17, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Wilner, Michael (February 5, 2019). "Pompeo appoints Elan Carr, prosecutor, as antisemitism envoy". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  20. ^ Pompeo, Michael R. (February 5, 2019). "On the Appointment of Elan S. Carr as Special Envoy To Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism" (Remarks by the Secretary of State). Washington, DC: United States Department of State. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  21. ^ Kampeas, Ron (February 4, 2019). "Trump names prosecutor, former AEPi leader, Iraq war vet to be anti-Semitism monitor". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  22. ^ "Trump to appoint Elan Carr Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism". JewishInsider. February 4, 2019. Retrieved February 4, 2019.
  23. ^ a b Rosenfeld, Arno (2024-04-02). "Amid budget cuts, Congress boosts funding for antisemitism envoy". The Forward. Retrieved 27 April 2024.
  24. ^ "President Biden Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Leaders to Serve in Key Religious Affairs Roles". The White House. 30 July 2021. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  25. ^ a b "Senate advances nomination of Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy". 29 March 2022.
  26. ^ "PN1165 — Deborah E. Lipstadt — Department of State 117th Congress (2021–2022)". US Congress. 3 January 2022. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  27. ^ Kampeas, Ron (2021-11-24). "Biden taps Aaron Keyak to serve as State Dept's deputy antisemitism monitor". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 27 April 2024.
  28. ^ "PN1572 – Nomination of Deborah E. Lipstadt for Department of State, 117th Congress (2021–2022)". 30 March 2022. Retrieved 1 August 2022.
  29. ^ Launch of U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, retrieved 2023-08-01