President Joe Biden will reportedly appoint Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt Friday as his administration’s new special envoy on antisemitism, filling the post with a scholar who defended comparing President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.
Lipstadt is best known for winning a lawsuit against Holocaust denier David Irving, who had sued her for defamation. In 2011, she also decried what she called “Holocaust abuse” by U.S. and Israeli politicians who compared opponents to Nazis. She called such analogies a form of “soft-core” Holocaust denial, since they cheapened the reality of Nazi mass murder.
But she changed her view under President Trump, accusing him of “soft Holocaust denial” when a statement in January 2017 by the new Trump administration on International Holocaust Remembrance Day neglected to mention Jews specifically. She claimed, without evidence, that Holocaust denial “is being spread by those in President Trump’s innermost circle.”
In 2020, Lipstadt defended a controversial video published by the Jewish Democratic Council of America that showed Trump alongside images of Nazi Germany — violating her earlier stance that such comparisons verged on Holocaust denial.
As Breitbart News reported at the time, the ad was so inflammatory that even the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — a vocal critic of President Trump — condemned it, with ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt saying it “has no place in the presidential race and is deeply offensive to the memories of 6M+ Jews systematically exterminated during the Shoah [Holocaust].”
But Lipstadt defended the ad, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
Lipstadt, who endorsed Barack Obama twice but has been tapped by administrations of both parties for her Holocaust-related expertise, also stressed that the ad made use of images of Nazi Germany but not of the Holocaust itself.
“I would say in the attacks we’re seeing on the press, the courts, academic institutions, elected officials and even, and most chillingly, the electoral process, that this deserves comparison,” she said in a videoconference hosted Tuesday by the Jewish Democratic Council. “It’s again showing how the public’s hatred can be whipped up against Jews. Had the ad contained imagery of the Shoah, I wouldn’t be here today.”
“People ask me, is this Kristallnacht?” she said. “Is this the beginning of pogroms, etc.? I don’t think those comparisons are correct. “However, I do think certain comparisons are fitting … it’s certainly not 1938,” when Nazis led the Kristallnacht pogroms throughout Germany. “It’s not even September 1935, and the Nuremberg Laws” institutionalizing racist policies.
“What it well might be is December 1932, Hitler comes to power on Jan. 30, 1933 — it might be Jan. 15, 1933.”
Biden faced criticism for taking so long to fill the antisemitism post, amidst a wave of antisemitic attacks across the country.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.