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Biden State Department Did Not Consult Antisemitism Office on Israel Boycott, Cruz Says

Deborah Lipstadt (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)
Deborah Lipstadt (Photo by Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images)

The Biden State Department did not consult with its anti-Semitism watchdog before ending taxpayer funding for Israeli research projects, a move that casts doubt on the department's insistence that the policy was noncontroversial.

The Biden administration sent shockwaves through the pro-Israel advocacy world late last month when it decided to boycott all scientific cooperation projects with Jewish Israelis living in so-called settlements throughout East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Golan Heights. But "the State Department’s own Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism was excluded from deliberations over this guidance and did not clear it," according to a draft investigatory letter authored by Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) making the rounds on Capitol Hill.

The disclosure could undermine the State Department’s claim that its ban on taxpayer funding for these Israeli groups is "simply reflective of the longstanding U.S. position" on disputed areas of the Jewish state. The department’s anti-Semitism envoy, Holocaust historian Debra Lipstadt, is a vocal opponent of Israel boycotts, and routinely calls out foreign nations for their efforts to unfairly target the Jewish state. If the State Department cut Lipstadt out of discussions around the policy, it could signal the decision was much more internally controversial than officials are willing to publicly admit.

After news about the Israel funding prohibition leaked last month, Republican leaders—including several Republican presidential candidates—quickly accused the Biden administration of advancing the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Cruz’s draft letter on the matter warns the Biden administration that its endorsement of this policy risks "a full rupture" in Congress’s "ability to engage the Department of State on these issues."

Related Story: Report: Biden Administration to Resume West Bank Academic Boycott

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