AJC Mourns Passing of Ambassador Richard Schifter
NEW YORK, Oct. 5, 2020
NEW YORK, Oct. 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- American Jewish Committee (AJC) mourns the passing of Ambassador Richard Schifter. He was 97 years old.
Schifter, an attorney-turned-diplomat appointed to senior positions in both Republican and Democratic administrations over a 20-year span, was an AJC leader from 1972 onward, serving on the organization's Board of Governors and, beginning in 2002, chairing AJC's International Relations Commission. He was also a longtime benefactor of AJC Project Interchange.
"With his vast experience in international affairs and as an advisor to presidents, Ambassador Schifter gave a boost to AJC's diplomatic efforts, especially in matters related to the United Nations," said AJC CEO David Harris. "In the State Department, in the White House, and at the UN, Dick was a passionate advocate for American leadership, for the security and well-being of Israel, for Soviet Jews seeking freedom, and for the defense of human rights."
Schifter fled Vienna to the United States at the age of 15, after the Nazis took over Austria. He later learned that his entire family was murdered by the Nazis. He joined the U.S. army in 1943, fought the Nazis, served in the occupation forces after the war, and, after his discharge in 1948, attended Yale Law School.
"Richard Schifter's nearly century-long life is an amazing and remarkable story of resilience and perseverance in the face of tragedy and displacement," said Harris. "In some ways, it is a quintessential tale of a refugee who arrives in the United States, creates a new life from a humble start, and becomes a proud and accomplished American."
Under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush, Schifter served as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, U.S. Representative to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Commission, and as Deputy U.S. Representative to the UN Security Council. Under President Clinton he served as Special Assistant to the President on the staff of the National Security Council and as Special Advisor to the Secretary of State.
He received the Secretary of State's Distinguished Service Award, Austria's Golden Honor Insignia with Star, and the Order of Commander of Romania's Star.
SOURCE American Jewish Committee