U.S. Special Envoy To Monitor And Combat Antisemitism Deborah Lipstadt: "We Need To Speak Up, Educate Ourselves, And Build Stronger Communities To Combat Antisemitism"

By BJLife Israel Newsroom
Posted on 02/08/24

Washington D.C. – In a pivotal meeting that took place last week at the State Department in Washington D.C., Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt who serves as the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism met with CEO of Aish Rabbi Steven Burg, and CMO of Aish Jamie Geller. The trio engaged in a profound discussion on the surge of antisemitism following the tragic events of the October 7th attack against Israel. The meeting highlighted the urgent need to combat this growing threat and foster stronger international alliances, particularly with Gulf states, to address the issue head-on.

Ambassador Lipstadt emphasized the dramatic shift in the global landscape post-October 7th, noting the direct and parallel lines between recent antisemitic acts and the broader political tensions affecting the Middle East. She clarified the distinction between legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and antisemitism, pointing out the alarming actions of those who not only question Israel's right to exist but also perpetuate harmful stereotypes.

The Ambassador expressed her shock at the rapid escalation of antisemitic incidents, which took place immediately following Hamas’s attack against Israel and predated Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip. “The speed of the denial of the attack and the denial of the horrific gender-based violence, including rape, is something that is shocking to me,” the Ambassador said. “These acts of prejudice challenge the very foundations of rational discourse and historical understanding.”

Addressing the role of authoritarian regimes in perpetuating antisemitism, Ambassador Lipstadt highlighted the surprising shift in China's stance and the nuanced challenges posed by state-sponsored antisemitism. Despite the grim outlook, she underscored the importance of speaking up, educating oneself, and finding community support as critical steps toward combating antisemitism. “People cannot necessarily stop the person perpetrating antisemitism, but they can and must speak up and educate themselves concerning the underlying issue so that they can combat it. For those who feel alone, or isolated, they must find a community to help support them in their fight against antisemitism,” Ambassador Lipstadt stated.  

Rabbi Burg and Jamie Geller echoed the Ambassador's sentiments, stressing the importance of a strong Jewish identity and active engagement in countering antisemitism. They highlighted the disillusionment among many who felt betrayed by the silence of human rights and women’s rights organizations during this crisis.

“On October 8th we were suddenly faced with a situation where Jews in many parts of the globe were trying to figure out why their best friends of last week suddenly hated them this week,” Rabbi Burg explained. “People reached out to us at Aish in person and online looking for help, for a community, and we were there for them. We need to continue to empower, embrace, and educate Jews from all over and to double and triple our efforts to help those who are most vulnerable to antisemitism.”   

The meeting concluded on a note of resilience and hope, with a call to recognize antisemitism not only as a threat to the Jewish community but also as a danger to democratic values and national stability. The participants commended the current U.S. administration's commitment to a national strategy against antisemitism and celebrated the enduring spirit of the Jewish people and the state of Israel.

Aish is committed to fostering understanding and unity and continues to engage with leaders and the wider community to educate and raise awareness on these critical issues. Through open dialogue and educational initiatives, Aish strives to create a world rooted in respect, tolerance, and solidarity against all forms of prejudice.