US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on May 22 administered the oath of office to the Department of State's first special envoy for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism, the State Department said in a statement.
Gregg Rickman, a former congressional staff member who helped investigate the United Nations Oil-for-Food Program and the retention by Swiss banks of assets belonging to Holocaust victims and their heirs, assumes the position, which was created by the Global Anti-Semitism Review Act of 2004.
Rickman, whose father survived the Nazi Holocaust, that murdered 6 million Jews along with Poles, Roma, homosexuals and others deemed undesirable by the Nazi regime and its allies, linked the prevention of anti-Semitism to the cause of freedom and democracy.
"If we have learned any lessons from the past, it is that anti-Semitism left unchecked results in disaster," he said.
Shaped by Senator George Voinovich (Republican of Ohio) and Representatives Christopher Smith (Republican of New Jersey) and Tom Lantos (Democrat of California), the act mandates a one-time State Department Report on Global Anti-Semitism and subsequent inclusion of information about anti-Semitism in the department's annual reports on human rights and on international religious freedom.
Rice: Defending human dignity means defeating anti-Semitism
According to the statement, recent years have seen an upsurge in violent anti-Semitic incidents and in the dissemination of anti-Semitic propaganda, including The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a 19th century forgery positing a Jewish conspiracy to control the world through perversion of traditional social and political institutions. Television stations in some parts of the world have broadcast series based on the Protocols, while Mahatir Mohammad, former prime minister of Malaysia, told the Organization of the Islamic Conference on October 16, 2003, that Jews "rule the world by proxy."
After signing the Anti-Semitism Review Act into law, US President George W. Bush on October 16, 2004, pledged that "this nation will keep watch; we will make sure that the ancient impulse of anti-Semitism never finds a home in the modern world."
Rice echoed this sentiment in remarks preceding Rickman's swearing-in.
"More than six decades after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is not just an historical fact, however. It is a current event," she said.
"Defending human dignity means defeating anti-Semitism," she added.