Deborah Lipstadt may have to apologise to senator before becoming antisemitism envoy

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Deborah Lipstadt may have to apologise to senator before becoming antisemitism envoy

Historian who famously defeated British Holocaust denier David Irving in court was appointed to the role by President Joe Biden, but has not been confirmed yet amid opposition over her comments about Republicans and former President, Donald Trump

Acclaimed academic Deborah Lipstadt
Acclaimed academic Deborah Lipstadt

In his Rosh Hashanah call with Jewish leaders last year, 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, she has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

According to a New York Times report, Lipstadt, who defeated David Irving, a British Holocaust denier 2000, may be asked to apologise 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 Sen. Ron Johnson in which he said he would have been more concerned by the events of Jan. 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 antisemitism in the past is somehow an obstacle to this nomination, and 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 organisations 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.

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