Biden antisemitism czar hopes Saudi visit will lessen Jew hatred in region

Biden’s campaign trail promises to make Saudi Arabia into an international ‘pariah’ due to its human rights abuses appear to have fizzled.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. State Department’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, expressed hope during a briefing on Monday that her recent visit to Saudi Arabia would help lessen rampant Jew hatred in the region.

Lipstadt discussed her trip to the Gulf Kingdom during an online conference, during which she acknowledged that Saudi Arabia is not “perfect according to our human rights standards,” the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reported.

But she said that she believes her presence as a Jewish woman in “a place which had once been the source of so much Jew hatred, so much extremism,” would mark an important step towards walking back antisemitism in the country.

“If I can lessen that degree of animus [toward Jews], if I can make it so that that degree is not spread amongst others, I think I would have to,” Lipstadt said. “I would be derelict not to do so.”

Believing that baby steps, such as removing blatantly antisemitic content from their school curriculum, means that the Kingdom is reformed and now tolerant of Jews would be “drinking the Kool Aid,” she said.

“The king of Saudi Arabia has sent imams abroad to various mosques, including in this country, who have preached antisemitism,” Lipstadt noted.

She expressed hope that changing the perception of Jews in the Gulf region could coax more regional powers into signing normalization agreements with Israel.

“I hope that our ability to maybe diffuse the antisemitism piece and maybe infuse a different attitude, a conception of Jews and Jews within the Gulf region, will help this issue,” she said.

Her visit to the region came shortly after President Joe Biden’s trip to Saudi Arabia, which saw him warmly greet and fist bump the crown prince, whom he had previously pledged to hold responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Biden’s campaign trail promises to make Saudi Arabia into an international “pariah” due to its human rights abuses appear to have fizzled, as the president reportedly phoned the crown prince in order to stabilize wildly spiking oil prices.