Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA ’72, PhD ’76, H ’19, was nominated by President Biden to serve as a special envoy responsible for monitoring and combating antisemitism, holding the rank of an ambassador, according to a White House Statement from July 30. Lipstadt is a historian, professor and writer focused in studying Holocaust denial and antisemitism.
Lipstadt is a professor of Modern Jewish Studies and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, according to her faculty page. She began working at Emory in 1993 in the Department of Religion, according to an Emory article. She was the founding director of the Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University, according to the White House Statement. She served as its director for 10 years, from 1998 to 2008.
Emory University President Gregory L. Fenves, in regards to the nomination, wrote, “I am heartened to see the nomination of Dr. Lipstadt as an expert and teacher who can help lead our nation forward on this vital issue.”
Lipstadt gave the keynote address at Brandeis’ 68th commencement in 2019, according to the university’s Honorary Degree Recipients page. In her speech Lipstadt advised the graduating class to “fight hate and prejudice in all forms,” according to a BrandeisNOW article.
In her address, Lipstadt said, “And if you see them harassed or mistreated, you must feel outraged, even if it is not a member of your own group suffering the insult. In the fight against evil, there are no bystanders. Onlookers are not neutral. They are complicit.”
According to her Emory faculty page, Lipstadt was a historical consultant for the United States Holocaust Memorial Muesum. She was responsible for helping design the exhibit on the United States’ response to the Holocaust. Lipstadt served as a member of the Holocaust Memorial Mueseum’s Executive Committee as well as a chair for the Educational Committee and Academic Committee for the museum, according to her page.
Former President Bill Clinton appointed Lipstadt to serve on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, which she sat on for two terms, according to her faculty page. She has also been selected by Congress to consult on political responses to Holocaust denial. Lipstadt was a member of the United States State Department Advisory Committee from 1996 to 1999 as a Religious Freedom Abroad advisor.
Lipstadt has received multiple honors and awards, including the Albert D. Chernin Award given by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), according to her faculty page. This award is given to individuals who are dedicated to social justice work in Judaism, Jewish history and the protection of the First Amendment, according to the JCPA page. This award has also been given to Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Professor Alan Dershowitz.
Lipstadt is an author of multiple Holocaust books including: “Beyond Belief: The American Press and the Coming of the Holocaust 1933-1945,” “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier,” “The Eichmann Trial,” “Holocaust: An American Understanding” and “Antisemitism: Here and Now.” She has also appeared as a political commentator on Good Morning America, NPR’s Fresh Air, the BBC and the Charlie Rose Show, according to her faculty page. Lipstadt also contributes to newspapers and journals.
Lipstadt was one of four nominees put forward by President Biden who are intended to be appointed to roles in the U.S Department of State and the U.S Commission on International Religious Freedom, according to the statement.