US/World News

Former antisemitism envoys urge Trump to fill positions

(JTA) – Four previous U.S. envoys to fight antisemitism and promote religious freedom called on President Donald Trump to fill the two positions, which are currently empty. The letter, sent by the Lantos Foundation, noted “spreading antisemitism both at home and abroad” and persecution of religious minorities in the Middle East and Asia. The signatories include two former envoys for international religious freedom, Robert Seiple and Rabbi David Saperstein, the former director of the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center; the two previous envoys for combating anti-semitism, Hannah Rosenthal and Ira Forman, and the president of the Lantos Foundation and former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, Katrina Lantos Swett.

“The perilous state of religious freedom around the globe confirms the wisdom of America’s leaders in creating a legal framework for addressing these abuses and ensuring that our foreign policy remains focused on protecting and advancing these fundamental rights,” read the letter sent May 2 by the human rights-focused nonprofit. “The positions of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism are absolutely critical components of that legal framework.”

There have been conflicting reports as to whether Trump will fill the antisemitism envoy position, but in April, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement to JTA that the Trump administration would appoint someone to serve in the role.

The Lantos Foundation is named after Tom Lantos, a U.S. lawmaker, human rights activist and the only Holocaust survivor elected to Congress. Lantos died in 2008 at 80.

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