While we have been critical of the Trump administration over the last two years, this week we offer up wholehearted approval of the appointment of Elan Carr as the State Department’s next special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.
Carr is a superb choice for the position, uniquely qualified and likely destined to make an impact.
For starters, he’s the beneficiary of a Jewish day school education and a 1990 graduate of UC Berkeley. During his college days, he belonged to the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, an organization for which he served as global president later in life.
His professional career, too, reflects a commitment to serving both the Jewish people and his country. As a lawyer and a soldier, he worked as an Army judge advocate. Fluent in Hebrew and Arabic, he shipped out to Iraq during the Second Gulf War and, while there, organized a Hanukkah celebration in one of Saddam Hussein’s vacant palaces.
That moment must have been gratifying for him, as his mother descended from a persecuted Iraqi Jewish family forced to flee the anti-Semitic terror that drove out the country’s Jewish community.
Back home, Carr became a deputy district attorney in Los Angeles, focusing on gang violence and hate crimes. He once ran for Congress as a Republican. And he also has spent time in Israel, working as a legal advisor to the Ministry of Justice in 1996.
Carr’s appointment has been met with high praise from across the Jewish world. Leaders from the ADL, B’nai B’rith and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, as well as many Jewish elected officials from both sides of the aisle, expressed their delight.
There is every indication that Carr will take his new post seriously, a critical task given the steady and truly alarming uptick in anti-Jewish violence and rhetoric seen around the world.
Whether of the right-wing neo-Nazi variety or the equally pernicious left-wing anti-Zionist strain, resurgent anti-Semitism should be cause for concern everywhere. Anti-Jewish hate has always been the canary in the coalmine when it comes to predicting rising intolerance and ethnic violence.
That said, we can not let the current administration off the hook. As with so many unfilled positions in the federal government, the special envoy post has been vacant for the entirety of the Trump presidency, an inexcusable lapse. We applaud this appointment not only for its own sake, but also in the hopes that it may spur the president to fill other vacancies up and down government.
For now, we wish Elan Carr good luck and Godspeed as he confronts the global fight against anti-Semitism. It is a messy business, but at the same time, holy work.