June 28, 2017
For Immediate Release
Contact: Denise L. Perron, Executive Director
Lantos Foundation : "Don't Disrespect Congress' Only Holocaust Survivor"
Lantos Foundation calls on Trump Administration to fill post of Special envoy to combat Anti-Semitism
CONCORD, NH – On Tuesday, the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice once again called on the Trump Administration to appoint a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism. In a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Lantos Foundation President Katrina Lantos Swett urged the appointment of a qualified individual to the post created via the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004, a bill written and championed by her late father, Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the U.S. Congress.
The latest push for this crucial position comes in response to concerning statements from Secretary Tillerson and proposed budget cuts that will leave the office of the Special Envoy unstaffed as of the first of July.
Under questioning at a Congressional hearing last week, Secretary Tillerson disputed the need for the Special Envoy for anti-Semitism. He suggested that having a high level official focused on monitoring and combatting anti-Semitism could weaken such efforts by other personnel within the State Department. His testimony was met with bi-partisan skepticism and disagreement.
A broad group of lawmakers and various Jewish organizations have since stepped up efforts urging the Administration to appoint a Special Envoy and the Lantos Foundation urgently joins them in calling for swift action to fill this post. The Lantos Foundation also focused its 2017 Solidarity Sabbath efforts on pressuring the Administration to appoint both this position and the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.
Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Foundation said;
“There is strong support across the political spectrum for the Trump Administration to fill this vital position as quickly as possible. Failure to do so sends a troubling message, to friend and foe alike, that the Administration is downgrading its focus on fighting anti-Semitism.
While I agree that the fight against anti-Semitism should not be exclusive to one mission at the State Department, there absolutely must be a dedicated leader in this crucial fight. My father understood this better than anyone else. His deep understanding of these issues was unparalleled in the Congress, which is why he had the strong support of his colleagues for the legislation creating the Special Envoy post.
I am baffled that the Administration would ignore the hard won wisdom and experience of Congress’ only Holocaust survivor and choose to leave this post vacant. This is disrespectful not only to the memory of my father, but to all those who have fought against anti-Semitism for so long.”
The Lantos Foundation was established in 2008 to carry on the human rights legacy of the late Congressman Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor ever elected to the U.S. Congress and a prominent advocate for human rights during his nearly three decades as a U.S. Representative. The mission of the Lantos Foundation is to be a vital voice standing up for the values of decency, dignity, freedom, and justice in every corner of the world.