Ira Forman, the former Special Envoy to Counter Antisemitism, has described President Trump’s reported plans to abolish the post as a “disaster” for Jewish communities in the US.
It was reported yesterday that the position, which was created in 2004, is at risk of being abolished in a series of budget cuts being undertaken by the new President.
“I can’t believe someone at the White House won’t have better sense… This is a disaster. I just can’t believe that they would even think of this given the relatively small budget needed to run this office.”
“This is as bipartisan as an issue as you can get, and I just hope folks at the White House come to their sense”
Whilst difficult calls must be made when it comes to cutting Government budgets, the envoy has a “relatively small” budget according to Forman. Beyond this, America stands in the midst of a rising antisemitism problem. With dozens of hoax bomb threats being made to Jewish institutions, a resurgent far right, and a huge problem with antisemitism coming from the far left and from Islamists on American University campuses, now is the worst time imaginable to be cutting the funding to this office.
Sadly, Trump has form in this area; despite some signs that he wishes to work closely with the Jewish community, including his stated intention to investigate campus antisemitism, President Trump has often been slow to condemn antisemitism, and appeared to berate a Jewish reporter who asked him about antisemitism, describing the question as “insulting”, going on to say “so, here’s the story folks. Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’re ever seen in your entire life…Number two, racism. The least racist person”.
America is at a point at which it needs leadership on the question of antisemitism, which must necessarily involve its President answering questions about the increased threats to Jewish communities with more satisfactorily than simply getting offended and saying that he isn’t personally antisemitic.
With antisemitism becoming a greater concern across America, and becoming more visible, President Trump must commit himself to ensuring the security of American Jews, and to fund bodies which can help to tackle antisemitism. Abolishing the special envoy is a very worrying step in the opposite direction, and will only add to the concerns of American Jews.