Biden appoints anti-Semitism envoy who compared Trump administration to pre-Nazi Germany

The White House notified top Biden supporters that the president’s appointee for an ambassadorship position at the Office to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism will be Deborah Lipstadt, the Emory University Holocaust historian. Her appointment will be received by many with mixed emotions.

Lipstadt came into prominence in 1996 when she was sued by David Irving for libel after she characterized some of his writings and public statements as Holocaust denial in her book Denying the Holocaust.  Lipstadt won the case using the justification defense, namely by demonstrating in court that Lipstadt’s accusations against Irving were substantially true and therefore not libelous.

Her expertise in the Holocaust is exceptional. She does not shy from making political statements and though she twice endorsed Barack Obama for president, she is bipartisan when it comes to calling out Holocaust denial. In a speech in 2007, she criticized President Jimmy Carter for “soft-core denial” in his controversial book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.  “When a former president of the United States writes a book on the Israeli–Palestinian crisis and writes a chronology at the beginning of the book in order to help them understand the emergence of the situation and in that chronology lists nothing of importance between 1939 and 1947, that is soft-core denial,” Lipstadt said.

She invoked the term again in 2017 when  the Trump administration’s statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day filed to contain a specific mention of Jews as the primary target of the Nazi attempt at genocide.”The Holocaust was de-Judaized,” Lipstadt wrote in the Atlantic. “Holocaust denial is alive and well in the highest offices of the United States,” wrote Lipstadt. “It is being spread by those in President Trump’s innermost circle. It may have all started as a mistake by a new administration that is loath to admit it’s wrong.”

“Conversely, it may be a conscious attempt by people with antisemitic sympathies to rewrite history,” she added. “Either way it is deeply disturbing.”

“Softcore denial uses different tactics but has the same end-goal … It does not deny the facts, but it minimizes them, arguing that Jews use the Holocaust to draw attention away from criticism of Israel. Softcore denial also makes all sorts of false comparisons to the Holocaust. ”

She took this one step further last year, during the election when she 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.”

“I would say in the attacks we’re seeing on the press, the courts, academic institutions, elected officials and even, and most chillingly, the electoral process, that this deserves comparison,” she said at the time. referring to the JDCA ad. “It’s again showing how the public’s hatred can be whipped up against Jews. Had the ad contained imagery of the Shoah, I wouldn’t be here today.”

She came out against President Trump again in December, after he lost the elections. Lipstadt co-authored an article in The Washington Post called “Denying the Holocaust Threatens Democracy. So Does Denying the Election Results” While acknowledging that Trump is not Adolf Hitler, she claimed that the comparison is correct because both Hitler and Trump “adopted the propaganda technique of the big lie” and “serve antidemocratic political ends.”

“Democracy denial,” they declare, is equivalent to Holocaust denial.

Lipstadt was previously a member of the US Department of State’s Advisory Committee on Religious Persecution Abroad and was a Board Member of Hillel International, The Defiant Requiem and The Covenant Foundation. Lipstadt received a BA from City College in New York and an MA and Ph.D. from Brandeis University.

If Lipstadt is confirmed, she will be the fifth person in the position. The office “advocates U.S. policy on anti-Semitism both in the United States and internationally, develops and implements policies and projects to support efforts to combat anti-Semitism.”Elan Carr, Trump’s appointee, sometimes criticized domestic actors, including J Street, the liberal Jewish Middle East policy group. H

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