JTA — In his Rosh Hashanah call with Jewish leaders last year, US President Joe Biden called for a “swift confirmation” for Deborah Lipstadt, his pick to serve as the State Department’s antisemitism envoy.
But despite Biden’s formal nomination of Lipstadt last July, Lipstadt has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
According to a New York Times report, Lipstadt may be asked to apologize to a Republican senator for a tweet in which she accused him of white supremacy before Republican members of Congress will agree to confirm the noted historian of the Holocaust.
On March 14, 2021, Lipstadt tweeted an article about a statement by Republican Senator Ron Johnson, in which he said he would have been more concerned by the events of January 6, 2021, had the rioters been “Black Lives Matter and antifa protesters” instead of Trump supporters. Lipstadt tweeted the article, saying “This is white supremacy/nationalism. Pure and simple.”
Other Republican lawmakers have faulted her for appearing in an ad during the 2020 presidential race likening former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric to those of the Nazis in the 1930s, before the Holocaust.
Speaking to CNN in December, Senator Bob Menendez, the Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which would move Lipstadt’s nomination forward, balked at the notion that Lipstadt’s tweet should be an obstacle to her confirmation.
“If calling out anti-Semitism in the past is somehow an obstacle to this nomination… that would be an amazing set of circumstances, because that’s what we want this person to do,” Menendez told CNN.
Lipstadt, 74, has long been a go-to expert for the media and for legislators on issues related to the Holocaust and antisemitism. She twice endorsed Barack Obama for president, but has been called on for her expertise by leaders across the political spectrum. In November, three Jewish organizations called on the Senate to confirm Lipstadt for the appointment “without further delay.”
Lipstadt would be the first antisemitism envoy to be confirmed by the Senate after Biden raised the post to the level of ambassador, which requires Senate approval.