By: Jonathan Levin  | 

Deborah Lipstadt, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, to be Keynote Speaker at Commencement

Deborah Lipstadt, the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, will deliver the keynote address at Yeshiva University’s 91st commencement at Arthur Ashe Stadium on May 26, YU announced in a press release

Lipstadt will also receive YU’s first Presidential Medallion of Exemplary Leadership.

Following Lipstadt's speech, Kenneth Jacobson, a YU alum and the deputy national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters for his work combatting antisemitism, the press release stated.

The YU Siyum and Concert, featuring Ishay Ribo with Akiva and Alex Clare as guest singers, will follow commencement.

The Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, a division of the U.S. Department of State, was created in 2004 and is tasked with monitoring antisemitism in foreign countries and coordinating the U.S. government's response to it. The office’s role was expanded under a 2020 congressional bill, which also bestowed the rank of ambassador on the special envoy and stipulated that a nominee be chosen by the president instead of the secretary of state.

Lipstadt was confirmed by the Senate on March 30. The position was unfilled since her predecessor, Elan Carr, ended his tenure as special envoy at the conclusion of the Trump administration. 

Lipstadt is an international expert on antisemitism and holocaust denial. She fought and won a  six-year-long court battle with Holocaust denier David Irving, who accused her of libel — the trial later served as inspiration for the movie “Denial,” released in 2016. Lipstadt has also written several books and taught at multiple universities. 

Students were pleased with the news. “Having Ambassador Lipstadt as the commencement speaker for YU is a huge honor, considering that she is at the forefront of efforts at combating antisemitism today,” said Jonathan Linsider (YC ‘22), who will be graduating at commencement. “It is a huge honor to have her share her wisdom with us.”

This will be Lipstadt’s second time speaking at YU. She previously spoke about antisemitism at an event marking Yom Hashoah in 2005. 

Multiple university departments declined to answer multiple inquiries from The Commentator regarding the university officials involved in securing Lipstadt as a speaker.


Photo Caption: President Berman speaking at Yeshiva University’s 90th commencement 

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University