One of the most prominent pro-Israel groups in the U.S. has defended former Amb. Ric Grenell against calls he be prevented from joining the U.S. Holocaust Council.
Among those to criticize Grenell was Zachary Lipton, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Lipton "falsely and maliciously disparaged" Grenell on Twitter, according to the Zionist Organization of America on Monday.
"These attacks on Amb. Grenell and his record are hateful and ludicrous and must stop," the ZOA wrote in a release on its website. "Grenell's record shows that he is one of the fiercest fighters against antisemitism and terrorism, and defenders of the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel."
Lipton tweeted Saturday that President-elect Joe Biden, upon his Jan. 20 inauguration, should prevent Grenell from fulfilling his appointment to the U.S. Holocaust Council. President Donald Trump announced Dec. 22 he would appoint Grenell to the council.
"Day 1, @JoeBiden must rescind @RichardGrenell's appointment to the US Holocaust Council. He is a key propagandist spreading 'the big lie' a la Goebbels. It's a grievous insult to Jews to invoke the Holocaust's memory to confer credibility on such a man."
Grenell, the first openly gay acting director of national intelligence and first openly gay Cabinet-level appointee, has been a longtime supporter of Israel. He served as a State Department spokesperson to the United Nations during the George W. Bush administration and as ambassador to Germany in the Trump administration.
He is now a senior fellow at Carnegie Mellon's Institute for Politics and Strategy.
In calling the attacks "absurd, unjustifiable and shameful," the ZOA cited numerous examples of Grenell’s support of Israel in its statement, including:
- Grenell successfully pushed Germany to ban Hezbollah based on the group's support for terrorism and anti-Semitism.
- Grenell led efforts to deport a former Nazi concentration camp guard from the U.S. to Germany.
- After Germany's anti-Semitism commissioner cautioned Jews about wearing a kippah in public due to rising anti-Jewish attacks, Grenell soundly rejected the warning.
"Zachary Lipton, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon, has tweeted outrageous lies about Ric Grenell – and shamefully invoked the memory of the Holocaust to promote those lies," ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said. "I won't dignify Lipton's comments by repeating his lies here.
"But I am the child of Holocaust survivors and was born in a displaced persons camp. I lost my grandparents and most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins in the Holocaust. My father, a survivor of Auschwitz, lost his first family in the Holocaust.
"I have spent my life fighting Jew hatred in all its forms. I would speak out immediately, without any hesitation as I have done with others, if there was any question about Ric Grenell's character and fitness to serve in any influential capacity, including at Carnegie Mellon and especially at the U.S. Holocaust Museum."
Klein called for Lipton to retract his statements and apologize to Grenell.
"All efforts to disparage him or to threaten his position at Carnegie Mellon should stop immediately," Klein said. "No one has fought harder for the Jewish people and the Jewish state."
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