Wisconsin Jewish organizations call for Lipstadt confirmation | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Wisconsin Jewish organizations call for Lipstadt confirmation

Jewish organizations and leaders in Wisconsin are calling on U.S. Senator Ron Johnson to end his opposition to the confirmation of Dr. Deborah Lipstadt as the United States Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting Anti-Semitism and allow a vote on her confirmation to move forward.

The Senate Foreign Affairs committee was slated to vote on proceeding with Dr. Lipstadt’s confirmation Tuesday, March 29 at 9:15 a.m. The Wisconsin Jewish groups sent a March 28 letter to Johnson, signed by Director of The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation Kai Mishlove-Gardner; President & CEO of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation Miryam Rosenzweig; Board Chair of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation Joan Lubar; Board Chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council Brian Schupper; President of Wisconsin Council of Rabbis Rabbi Steve Adams; Executive Director of Jewish Federation of Madison Alan Klugman; ADL Midwest Regional Director David Goldenberg. 

Lipstadt is widely recognized as one of the world’s foremost scholars and experts on antisemitism and the Holocaust.  She was nominated in July 2021 by President Biden to this ambassador-level position, but Senator Johnson has continually blocked a vote on her confirmation to proceed in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and full Senate, according to a press release.  The Committee is scheduled to meet this week and, again, consider her nomination. 

A New York Times report in January indicated that Lipstadt could be asked to apologize to U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, before Republican members of Congress will agree to confirm. The apology would be for a tweet in which Lipstadt accused him of white supremacy, after he Johnson said he wasn’t worried about mostly white insurrections at the U.S. Capitol, but might have been concerned if they were Black Lives Matter supporters, according to media reports.  

“U.S. leadership is an essential part of the answer to this dangerous rise in antisemitism,” write the groups.  “Continuing to leave the Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combatting Anti-Semitism ambassadorship vacant limits the ability for the U.S. to lead and forcefully respond to antisemitism and hate, which are plaguing Jewish communities in Wisconsin and worldwide.” 

The call for Senator Johnson to support and stop blocking the confirmation of Lipstadt comes less than a week after the Milwaukee Jewish Community Relations Council released its 2021 Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents showing the number of antisemitic incidents in Wisconsin remain at a watershed level.  The data shows significant increases in reported antisemitic incidents in the state from 2020 to 2021 in several concerning areas, including an: 

  • 80% increase in antisemitic activities reported in middle and high schools; 
  • 46% increase in COVID-19 and pandemic conspiracies or comparisons directed toward Jews; 

  • 30% increase in Holocaust minimalization and comparisons; 

  • 30% increase in antisemitic incidents on social media; and  

  • 5% increase in harassment, threats and assaults targeting members of the Jewish community. 

Data from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also shows antisemitic incidents are at a historic high, with three of the last four years have seen the highest number of antisemitic incidents on record since ADL’s Center on Extremism began tracking this information in 1979, according to the press release.

“Dr. Lipstadt is one of the world’s foremost experts on antisemitism and is eminently qualified for this position.  She has fought antisemitism in the courts, confronted it on college campuses, and spoken truth to power,” the local Jewish groups wrote in a letter to Johnson.  “There is no justifiable reason for Dr. Lipstadt not to be confirmed immediately.  Today, more than ever, we need her expertise and leadership.”