Hannah Rosenthal

Obama's anti-Semitism envoy vs. the ADL

State Department anti-Semitism envoy breaks with Jewish group over imams' trip to Auschwitz


Justin Elliott
August 24, 2010 7:01PM (UTC)

Yesterday we reported on the Anti-Defamation League's unusual lobbying effort against a trip to concentration camp sites by a group of U.S. imams and a few Obama Administration officials.

And now one of those officials, envoy to combat anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal, has issued a response to the ADL in a statement to Politico's Laura Rozen.

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The background is that the ADL, while acknowledging that National Director Abe Foxman lobbied against U.S. officials' participation in the trip, claimed Monday that Foxman objected only because he thinks Rosenthal should be focusing on "government to government" work. (Though a person familiar with the trip told Salon Monday that Foxman went so far as to call a Polish rabbi during the imams' trip earlier this month to implore the rabbi not to meet with the American group.)

In response to the ADL's objection, Rosenthal explained: "My reason for going was simple – Anti-Semitism is growing in places for different reasons, but Holocaust denial is growing in parts of the Muslim communities and must be confronted in order to combat the anti-Semitism that accompanies it."

It's also worth noting that the imams' trip to Auschwitz ended with a strong joint statement denouncing anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

Here's Rosenthal's full statement:

My reason for going was simple – Anti-Semitism is growing in places for different reasons, but Holocaust denial is growing in parts of the Muslim communities and must be confronted in order to combat the anti-Semitism that accompanies it.

The response to my participation on the trip has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. As I travel to countries facing increased anti-Semitism, I regularly meet with Jewish organizations, and interfaith and interethnic organizations, in addition to meeting with government leaders. I recognize that this age-old hatred will take a multi-faceted approach: calling for government leadership in condemning anti-Semitism; better education for the younger generation; interfaith understanding and advocacy; and good old-fashioned relationship building. I am trying hard to do just that.


Justin Elliott

Justin Elliott is a reporter for ProPublica. You can follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin

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