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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Taking anti-Semitism seriously

There was a reception this week in honor of Hannah Rosenthal. It was hosted by Hillary Clinton at the State Department. Rosenthal, as you may recall, is the US special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. Rosenthal apparently needs to be reminded regularly what her job is: Last month she went to Kazakhstan and devoted an entire speech to 'Islamophobia.' What more can you expect from a J Streeter?

But this week she was at the State Department where Secretary Clinton gave a speech that was half roast and half fawning. Here are some highlights (Hat Tip: Jeffrey Goldberg).
Now, I have known Hannah for more than 20 years and we have worked over those 20 years on issues that are near and dear to both of us. And I can say from firsthand experience, even as well as she talks – and you just heard that – she does more than talk the talk. This is a woman who walks the walk. She is as good as her word. Whether she’s working on behalf of women’s rights or health care or promoting respect and tolerance for all people, she is truly a force for positive change and progress and is a wonderful partner. [And you thought her job was to promote respect and tolerance for Jews. CiJ]

Now, I should add that we have many things in common, Hannah and I, but this summer we are MOTBs – Mother of the Brides – together. (Laughter.) And I wish Shira the very best and congratulations and best wishes to all of you. If you can survive being an MOTB, being the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism seems like a relief. (Laughter.) [Being a parent of a bride or groom is not something you survive - it's one of the happiest moments of your life. Being the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism is real work if you take it seriously. CiJ]


So for Hannah, working to end anti-Semitism is not an item on her resume or a good project. This is personal. It is literally in the DNA of this woman and it is grounded in the reality of the Holocaust. It is built on persistent faith, passed on from her father, and it is rooted in the conviction that the world can be a better place, that we all are to be repairers of the breach and we never get the job done, but it is incumbent upon each of us to do our part. [It seems to me that fighting 'Islamophobia' is a lot more personal to Rosenthal. CiJ]

Now, in the nearly seven months that Hannah has been our special envoy, she has traveled the world devising new strategies and engaging governments and people to confront anti-Semitism and to promote tolerance and non-discrimination. In fact, a few weeks ago, she was in Kazakhstan with Farah Pandith, our Special Envoy to Muslim Communities. Together they launched the Acceptance, Respect and Tolerance Initiative to promote inter-faith and inter-ethnic understanding. And then Hannah and I, just about 10 days ago, were at the Community of Democracies Forum in Krakow and we also did tour the Schindler Factory Museum, which I highly recommend to you. Now, she will soon be heading back to Poland with a group of American imams under the auspices of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Center for Interreligious Understanding. [That's funny - she almost didn't mention anti-Semitism in Kazakhstan. Will she mention it to the imams? Or will she be afraid of offending them? CiJ]


President Obama and I are determined to curb anti-Semitism and to work to prevent the isolation of Israel internationally. So we are sending Hannah all over the world. (Laughter.) She’s available for bar and bat mitzvahs. (Laughter.) But seriously, she is pressing our case everywhere where two or more gather, it seems. And she needs your help. I look around. I see many friends here. I see people who have been active in Jewish organizations and civic organizations who understand the importance of this mission. I need your help, Hannah needs your help, because we constantly are looking for good new ideas to support, organizations that deserve the American Government’s backing. And we will continue to speak out against anti-Semitism, as we’ve done in the Human Rights Report and elsewhere, because we don’t want this to be a special effort, we want it to be integrated and rooted in everything we do so that it is part of the woof and warp of the work of the United States State Department and the United States Government. [This administration has done more to isolate Israel internationally than any other. Can you say NPT? CiJ]
Am I the only one who was rubbed the wrong way by the tone of this speech?

For those who want to see it, you can watch the speech (and Rosenthal's speech) here. In fact, I recommend that you watch Rosenthal's speech, which is the first twelve minutes of the tape - especially around the 6:30 mark. She's just not capable of staying on topic.

Note the title of the reception: It was also supposed to be for the Jewish community. You could have fooled me.


At 12:50 AM, Blogger Hatfield said...

And we will continue to speak out against anti-Semitism, as we’ve done in the Human Rights Report and elsewhere...but not (cough, cough) on the Human Rights Council.

At 12:57 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Carl.
I read her speech last month about 'Islamophobia.'
Do these people actually believe what they say or expect anyone to believe?It's obvious that as soon as they started to loose Jewish voters they suddenly pretend to care about Israel and the people of Israel.Strange way of caring they have being "our Special Envoy to Muslim Communities".

At 6:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if hillary cared about the future of the jewish people, she would stop her daughter from marrying a jew

what a shanda


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