More than 60 Jewish state legislators--including six from the Sunshine State--signed off on a letter to President Donald Trump last week, urging him to keep a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism in the State Department.
The National Association of Jewish Legislators (NAJL) rounded up legislators from across the country to sign the letter. Signers from Florida include state Sen. Kevin Rader, D-Boca Ration, and five members of the Florida House--Republican Randy Fine of Palm Bay and Democrats Lori Berman of Boynton Beach, Joseph Geller of Dania Beach, Emily Slosberg of Delray Beach and Richard Stark of Weston.
“This office was created by President George W. Bush and does important work in fighting this age-old problem,” Fine noted on Monday. “I am particularly proud to be joined by five of my colleagues in the Florida Legislature.”
Other politicians from the Sunshine State have also pushed the Trump administration on the matter. At the end of last month, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., called on U.S. Sec. of State Rex Tillerson to ensure the post and its office survives.
“Now, more than ever, the United States should send a clear message to the world that anti-Semitism in any form will not be tolerated,” Buchanan said when he sent a letter to Tillerson on the issue last month“We must start by filling the special envoy post responsible for monitoring and combating anti-Semitic activity. A failure to do so would be a step backward for Jewish communities in the United States and around the globe.”
Also in June, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., teamed up with U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, to offer a proposal ensuring the State Department does more to battle anti-Semitism.
Rubio and Gillibrand brought out the “Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism Act” at the start of last month. U.S. Reps. Chris Smith, R-NJ, and Eliot Engel, D-NY, are championing similar legislation in the House.
The proposal would promote create an ambassador level position reporting directly to the secretary of who “should be a person of recognized distinction in the field of combating anti-Semitism or religious freedom” to serve as the “primary advisor and coordinator for U.S. government efforts to monitor and combat anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement in foreign countries.”
“We have seen an alarming rise in anti-Semitism with Jewish communities targeted around the world and even here at home,” Rubio said. “The United States must remain committed to combating anti-Semitism in all its forms, wherever it appears. This bill enhances the position of the Special Envoy and builds upon American leadership on this important issue.”
This is not a new issue for Rubio, who has been working with U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who came up short as Hillary Clinton’s running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket, in pushing the “Combating European Anti-Semitism Act.” The proposal mirrors a bill from the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism in the U.S. House, including two congressional representatives from South Florida in Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrat Ted Deutch, to examine growing anti-Semitism in Europe that was brought out in October. Rubio and Kaine brought out the proposal in the middle of November, near the end of the 114th Congress. With a new Congress convening in January, Rubio and Kaine reintroduced the bill at the start of the year.