Deborah Lipstadt
Deborah Lipstadt REUTERS/Fred Thornhill

American Jewish organizations are urging lawmakers to speed up the approval process for President Joe Biden’s nominee for special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.

According to a report in The Hill, Republican members on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are being accused of delaying the confirmation of historian Deborah Lipstadt over concerns that some of her past tweets targeted GOP members of the committee.

In a letter delivered to the committee on Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jewish Federations of North America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America said that the “global Jewish community needs the United States to be a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism and we must not waste more time leaving our lead official in this fight off the field.”

The letter was addressed to Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and ranking member Jim Risch (R-ID), the two senators in charge of Lipstadt’s confirmation hearing.

In the letter, the organizations said that they rarely endorse nominees. However, they felt they had no choice in this instance due to the increasingly dangerous level of anti-Semitism in the U.S.

They also endorsed Lipstadt’s background as a well known Jewish history professor and Holocaust studies scholar with a record of legal wins against Holocaust deniers.

“Anti-Semitism continues to be a scourge across the globe,” they wrote. “Presently, individual Jews are harassed and assaulted on city streets, synagogues are subject to vandalism, and various lawmakers press legislation to ban fundamental Jewish practices including the production of kosher meat and ritual circumcision.”

They added: “Prof. Lipstadt has a long and well-documented history of fighting anti-Semitism and all forms of racism. She has a record of calling out anti-Semitism in all its forms, from both the left and the right.”

Menendez could force a confirmation hearing. However, he reportedly said during a Wednesday meeting that he wants to keep consensus in the committee by scheduling hearings in coordination with the ranking Republican member.

He also shot back at Republicans for not quickly holding the hearing.

“The minority has refused to grant her a hearing, apparently because there is some concern about her tweets calling up the use of anti-Semitic tropes,” Menendez said. “Let's think about that a minute. We don't want the person nominated to advance our global efforts against anti-Semitism to call out anti-Semitism? I sincerely hope that's not the position of the minority.”

One of Lipstadt’s tweets that is apparently holding up the hearing accused committee member Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) of "white supremacy."

“This is white supremacy/nationalism. Pure and simple. GOP Senator Johnson slammed as 'white nationalist sympathizer' after race remarks,” tweeted Lipstadt on March 14, 2021 along with posting a Haaretz article that was titled “GOP Senator slammed as ‘white nationalist sympathizer’ after race remarks.”

Lipstadt also drew ire from Republicans during the 2020 election when she broke a longstanding taboo on comparing present-day American politicians to the Nazis and endorsed an ad by the Jewish Democratic Council of America likening the Trump administration to 1930s Germany. Lipstadt said Holocaust analogies were still off-limits, but she could see parallels to the rise of the Nazis.

Besides being a prominent historian, Lipstadt is perhaps best known for defeating Holocaust denier David Irving after he sued her in a British court for defamation for calling him a Holocaust denier.