Elan Carr is an attorney, anti-terrorism expert, and proud Cal alum.
Elan Carr is an attorney, anti-terrorism expert, and proud Cal alum. (Collage/JTA-Laura Adkins/JTA; Carr photo/Elan for Congress; Capitol photo/ Creative Commons)

Cal alum, Iraq War veteran named new anti-Semitism envoy

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A Los Angeles prosecutor and UC Berkeley alum has been named the State Department’s envoy for anti-Semitism, filling a post that sat empty for two years despite protests from lawmakers and Jewish groups.

Elan Carr, 50, is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Iraq and was national president of the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi from 2012-2014. He grew up in New York, the son of an Iraqi Jewish mother and Ashkenazi father, and attended a Jewish day school.

Commending his appointment to this “critical” role, ADL national director and CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement, “Carr knows all too well the scourge of hate. His grandfather was imprisoned after an anti-Semitic show trial in Iraq, where Elan later served as a U.S. Army judge advocate. He has been a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism on college campuses and has long advocated for working across the aisle to craft thoughtful compromises, including in support of Israel.”

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations added its kudos, writing in a statement, “Mr. Carr’s long record of involvement in Jewish communal work, supporting the State of Israel, and combating anti-Semitism is remarkable. He has the knowledge, commitment, and capabilities to successfully address the rising tide of anti-Semitism in its various forms in Europe and around the world.”

Carr is immediately plunging into his work, heading this week to a conference on anti-Semitism in Bratislava organized by Slovakia, which currently holds the chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and then a European Union conference on anti-Semitism in Brussels. He has met or planned meetings with predecessors from both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Multiple letters from Jewish groups and a bipartisan array of Congress members had urged Trump to fill the post.

Trump’s failure until now to name an envoy has been exacerbated by concerns in the Jewish community that the president has equivocated in condemning white supremacists who have endorsed and praised him, and has cultivated relationships with authoritarians who have flirted with the far right, particularly in Hungary. The president’s defenders point to his support of Israel and his scrapping of an Iran nuclear deal reviled by Israel and many Jewish leaders.

The U.S. House of Representatives last month overwhelmingly approved a bill elevating the position to ambassador level. A 2004 law established the monitor’s post.

Carr was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi while a student at UC Berkeley (class of 1990), and credits the fraternity with helping him form his Jewish identity.

“To be part of an organization that is profoundly connected to Jewish nationhood, the brotherhood of Am Yisrael [‘the Jewish people’], is eye-opening, awakening,” he told the Times of Israel in 2013.