The top U.S. official combatting antisemitism globally will travel to Saudi Arabia on her first international trip, the State Department announced Thursday.
Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the president’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, will also travel to Israel and the United Arab Emirates beginning on June 26.
“Saudi Arabia is a very important country in the Gulf and it has shown a willingness and openness to hosting me,” Lipstadt told Jewish media outlets at the State Department, according to The Forward.
Her trip comes ahead of President Biden’s travel to Israel and Saudi Arabia in July and signals the greater openness between the Jewish State and Gulf countries, which have historically alienated Israel over its policies towards the Palestinians and are often criticized for promoting antisemitic sentiments.
The State Department’s 2021 International Religious Freedom report, published in June, documented that Saudi Arabia had made progress on removing or altering antisemitic content in its education materials, but that government-funded cultural events still exhibited antisemitic books and themes.
Saudi Arabia, which maintains quiet security ties with Israel, has shown a greater openness in recent years to establish relations more publicly with Jerusalem, following the former Trump administration’s brokering of the so-called Abraham Accords, that established ties between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain in September 2020.
The State Department said that Lipstadt “intends to build on the profoundly important Abraham Accords to advance religious tolerance, improve relations in the region, and counter misunderstanding and distrust.”
She will meet with senior governmental and civil society interlocutors, emphasizing promoting interfaith understanding, combating intolerance and anti-Jewish sentiment, the agency said.
Lipstadt was confirmed as special envoy in March.