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ADL Names Former Homeland Security Official George Selim as Senior Vice President

One of the country’s most prominent Arab American public servants will now helm the Jewish anti-hate group’s Center on Extremism

Yair Rosenberg
August 28, 2017
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

On July 28, George Selim tendered his resignation from the Department of Homeland Security. As a key point person on counter-terrorism, Selim had been one of the country’s most prominent Arab American public servants. Prior to his departure, Selim had founded and run the department’s Office on Community Partnerships, which worked closely with the American Muslim community, and led the federal Countering Violent Extremism Task Force. A George W. Bush appointee, he served through the entirety of the Obama administration, where he was a member of the National Security Council. (Far-right outlets, meanwhile, labeled Selim “a prominent Obama administration holdover known for engaging fringe Islamic radicals.”)

Today, one month after Selim’s resignation, the Anti-Defamation League announced that he will serve as its new Senior Vice President of Programs, overseeing the historic Jewish anti-hate group’s education, law enforcement, and community security programs, as well as its flagship Center on Extremism.

“George Selim has unparalleled expertise in engaging communities to stop the destructive extremism that comes from all sides of the ideological spectrum,” ADL national director Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “Particularly in the aftermath of the events in Charlottesville, we look forward to the leadership he will bring to our fight against anti-Semitism and bigotry, and our work promoting justice and fair treatment for all.”

The move marks the latest partnership between mainstream Jewish institutions and the Arab and Muslim communities in America. This past November, the American Jewish Committee and the Islamic Society of North America unveiled their new Muslim-Jewish Leadership Council, featuring prominent political, spiritual, and business leaders from both communities.

ISNA’s past president Imam Mohamed Magid, a member of that council, hailed Selim’s appointment. “ADL’s work is more valuable now than ever and the challenges it confronts affect people of all backgrounds,” he said. “George’s Catholic faith has motivated his public service and it is inspiring to see him join ADL’s ranks including Jews, Muslims, and Christians working together to fight bigotry in all forms.”

Michael Chertoff, George W. Bush’s former Secretary of Homeland Security, offered similar sentiments. “Through Republican and Democratic administrations, George has been steadfast in his efforts to fight extremism,” he said. “As ADL is one of the foremost U.S. non-profit authorities on extremism, terrorism, and hate, I am confident his leadership will further elevate the organization and the broader effort to make our country and our world a safer place.”

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.