Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Secretary of State nominee Blinken to cite family’s Holocaust horrors in confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of State-nominee Antony Blinken will open his confirmation hearing on Tuesday by discussing how his family’s experiences in the Holocaust inform his worldview.

Blinken released his opening statement to the public in advance of his appearance before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is overseeing the hearing on Tuesday afternoon. In the statement, Blinken says he views public service as “payment on the debt our family owes to the nation that gave us refuge and extraordinary opportunities across the generations.

“My grandfather, Maurice Blinken, found refuge in America after fleeing the Russian pogroms,” Blinken wrote.

“My father’s wife, Vera Blinken, found refuge in America after fleeing the communist regime in Hungary. And my late stepfather, Samuel Pisar, found refuge in America after enduring the horrors of the Holocaust. Sam was the only survivor among his immediate family and school of 900 in Bialystok, Poland, after four years in the concentration camps.”

He continued, “At the end of the war, he made a break from a death march into the Bavarian woods. From his hiding place, he heard the rumbling sound of a tank. Instead of an Iron Cross, he saw a five-pointed white star. He ran to the tank. The hatch opened and an African-American G.I. looked down at him. He fell to his knees and said the only three words he knew in English that his mother had taught him: God Bless America. The G.I. lifted him into the tank, into America, into freedom,” Blinken wrote to the committee. “That’s what we represent to the world, however imperfectly, and what we can still be at our best.”

A former deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser, Blinken is widely respected across the aisle. He is considered a moderate Democrat and is likely to have a reasonably easy ride to confirmation, with Republicans potentially finding it difficult to raise credible objections to his appointment.

Blinken’s message to Jewish voters during the campaign was that U.S. President Donald Trump wasn’t good for Israel, because the damage he has done to the United States’ international standing adversely impacts its ally.

He also highlighted Biden’s support for Israel, explicitly stating that Biden “would not tie military assistance to Israel to any political decisions Israel makes” during a call organized last May by the Democratic Majority for Israel, a centrist organization seeking to increase support for Israel within the Democratic Party.

Blinken played a leading role in getting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal passed by Congress, and has said throughout the Biden campaign that Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal in 2018 endangered Israeli security.

He told Jewish Insider last year that even if the deal is renewed in some form and nuclear-related sanctions against Iran were suspended, the United States “will continue non-nuclear sanctions as a strong hedge against Iranian misbehavior in other areas.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.