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Howard Dean Says ‘AJC Gets No Points’ for Hiring Christian as Director of Combating Anti-Semitism

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July 13, 2020
PHILADELPHIA, PA – JULY 26: Former Gov. Howard Dean (D-VT) reenacts his Iowa Caucus “Dean Scream” moment during closing remarks on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton received the number of votes needed to secure the party’s nomination. An estimated 50,000 people are expected in Philadelphia, including hundreds of protesters and members of the media. The four-day Democratic National Convention kicked off July 25. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Former Democratic National Committee (DNC) head and former presidential candidate Howard Dean tweeted on July 11 that the American Jewish Committee “gets no points” for hiring a Christian as its director of combating anti-Semitism.

Dean’s tweet was in response to a July 9 AJC tweet promoting Director of Combating Anti-Semitism Holly Huffnagle, who was hired for the role in April.

“Unfortunately Christians don’t have much a reputation for anything but hate these days thanks to Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell and other Trump friends,” Dean wrote. “AJC gets no points for this.”

https://twitter.com/GovHowardDean/status/1282013403238871040?s=20

The AJC defended Huffnagle. “.@GovHowardDean you have literally insulted billions of Christians of good will around the world, including @HHuffnagleAJC, who has dedicated her career to fighting anti-Semitism,” the Jewish group tweeted. “Please apologize and remove your hateful post.”

Huffnagle tweeted in response that her Christian faith is what motivates her to combat anti-Semitism. “It is disappointing and hurtful @GovHowardDean chose to paint Christians with so broad a brush,” she wrote. “I think we need more Christians in this fight, not less.” 

Progressive Jewish group IfNotNow sided with Dean. “We welcome allies in the fight for Jewish safety — but it should be obvious that white Christians should not be leading Jewish organization’s advocacy against anti-Semitism,” IfNotNow tweeted. “The AJC continues to show how out of touch it is with American Jews.”

Former AJC Los Angeles Associate Director Siamak Kordestani, who currently serves as the West Coast director for the European Leadership Network (ELNET) NGO, defended his former colleague.

“[Huffnagle] is nonpartisan and has dedicated her career to researching and combating anti-Semitism,” he tweeted in response to IfNotNow. “This post by @IfNotNowOrg is absolutely shameful and should be condemned by all. We should be *thanking*, not attacking, Holly.”

In May, Huffnagle told the Journal she became interested in the fight against anti-Semitism when she began studying the Holocaust at Santa Barbara’s Westmont College. “I actually entered the combating anti-Semitism space through the window of Holocaust education and Jewish-Christian dialogue, trying to figure out, can I somehow right an egregious past?” she said.

Huffnagle added that anti-Semitism is “not a Jewish problem. It’s a societal problem. It’s a reflection of our society, and effectively countering it requires non-Jews.”

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