Brandeis Alumni, Family and Friends

President Biden Nominates Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, H’19, to Advance US Policy on Antisemitism

August 3, 2021

A leading expert on Holocaust denial, Lipstadt's new appointment aims to combat antisemitism in all forms.

Deborah Lipstadt is hooded by Provost Lisa Lynch at the 2019 Commencement Ceremony
Lipstadt receives an honorary degree at the Brandeis 2019 commencement ceremony.

President Biden announced his intent to nominate and appoint Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, H’19, a renowned scholar of the Holocaust and antisemitism, to serve as the administration’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, a position with the rank of ambassador. Lipstadt is one of four nominees who will serve in key roles in the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

According to the White House, the announcement on July 30 “underscores the President’s commitment to build an Administration that looks like America and reflects people of all faiths.”

A leading authority on Holocaust denial and antisemitism, Lipstadt received an honorary degree from Brandeis and delivered the keynote address at the university’s 68th Commencement, when she urged the Class of 2019 to fight hate and prejudice in all forms.
Deborah Lipstadt speaking at the 2019 commencement
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“The Jew in the kippah, the Muslim woman in the hijab, the African American student walking across campus, the Latino kids gathered celebrating or just enjoying themselves in a park must feel as safe as anyone else,” keynote speaker Deborah Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, told the 2019 graduates. “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.” Watch the video. 

Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz described Lipstadt as “an eminent authority on the Holocaust. The quality and strength of her scholarship around issues of antisemitism are outstanding, and I can think of few leaders as well-suited for the role as Deborah. The Biden administration would be fortunate to benefit from her experience and wise counsel. We are proud to call her one of our alumni.”

“Having known Deborah Lipstadt since she was at Brandeis studying with Professor Benjamin Halpern, I’m particularly delighted by this appointment,” said University Professor Jonathan Sarna ’75, MA’75, director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History. “Her training, her scholarship and personal experience uniquely fit her for this position, which also serves as a fitting capstone to her career.”

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A professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies at Emory University for more than 20 years, Lipstadt has written eight books. “History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier," published in 2005, is her first-person account of her successful six-year legal battle with Holocaust denier David Irving.

Lipstadt’s more recent work, particularly her book “Antisemitism: Here and Now” (2019), continues to warn the world about the ever-present danger of antisemitic hatred and violence.