Hannah Rosenthal, the president’s special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, responded to criticism by the Anti-Defamation League that she shouldn’t have accompanied a group of Muslim-American clerics on a visit to former concentration camps in Europe.
ADL director Abe Foxman, after reports that he had lobbied U.S. officials not to go on the trip, said he had simply “raised the question” of why Rosenthal attended, saying she should be dealing solely with other governments.
Rosenthal doesn’t see it that way.“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,” she said in a statement to Politico.
“The response to my participation on the trip has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging,” she went on. “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.”
The trip, which included a handful of officials from the Obama, Bush and Reagan administrations, resulted in the eight imams issuing a statement condemning anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.
Foxman has drawn fire recently for the ADL’s opposition to the Islamic community center near Ground Zero. Foxman has dismissed his critics, saying they didn’t read his whole statement. “We were very, very, very careful in the words that we chose in our statement,” he told the Jerusalem Post.