New roles

Elan Carr, U.S. special envoy to combat antisemitism under Trump, named CEO of IAC

Carr, who has also worked for AIPAC and AEPi, takes over at a charged moment for Israelis in the U.S.

The Israeli American Council (IAC) on Monday named Elan Carr, former U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, as its next chief executive officer. He is taking over from Shoham Nicolet, the IAC co-founder who has led the organization as CEO for the past eight years. 

Carr, who has had close ties with the IAC since its inception in 2007, is set to begin his new role on Oct. 1. He is tasked with combating significant challenges Israeli Americans currently face, in addition to regaining the trust of liberal Israeli Americans who have fled the organization in recent years due to its right-wing affiliations. The organization, whose operating budget was $11.76 million in 2020 (the last year for which financial information is publicly available), is funded primarily by the Adelson Family Foundation.

Carr takes the reins at a particularly fraught moment given the roiling debate in Israel over the government’s judicial overhaul; that debate has spilled over to the U.S., including this week, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to New York for the U.N. General Assembly. Along the way, Netanyahu has already been met with protests by hundreds of Israeli expats— the presumed constituents of IAC — during his stop in Palo Alto, with more expected to attend demonstrations in New York.

Carr, 54, is a second-generation Israeli American, born and raised in New York City, whose parents were among the IAC’s founders. He comes to the IAC with extensive experience, including roles as a U.S. diplomat, Iraq war veteran and criminal prosecutor. He has also held multiple positions in the Jewish nonprofit realm, including serving as a voting member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, on the National Council of AIPAC and as international president of Alpha Epsilon Pi. 

In 2019, Carr served in the Trump administration as the State Department antisemitism monitor. Liberal supporters distanced themselves from the IAC when then-President Donald Trump delivered controversial remarks at the council’s summit in December 2019.

“I am deeply honored to assume the helm of the IAC at this important time, and I’m excited by the organization’s enormous potential,” Carr said in a statement. “Our community of Israeli-Americans and Jewish-Americans is grappling with significant challenges, including assimilation and antisemitism. I am privileged to help lead that cause.” Carr was not immediately available for an interview.

Yehuda Kurtzer, president of the Shalom Hartman Institute, said the appointment of Carr, who has clear ties to the Republican party in general and former President Trump in particular, showed that the IAC was not truly representative of the Israeli American community, but rather of one specific, conservative faction of it. 

“The appointment of Elan Carr – Republican politician, Trump appointee – to run the IAC should usefully put to bed the idea that there is such a thing as an ‘Israeli-American community,’” Kurtzer wrote in a Facebook post. “This is not merely the existence of different political views; it is that just like other American Jews, Israelis have their own denominations. The better we understand it the more sophisticated our mapping of the Jewish community will be. In general: fewer assumptions of ‘representation,’ and more opportunities for persuasion will be better for American Jewish public discourse.”

Carr succeeds Shoham Nicolet, who announced in June that he was stepping down as CEO to “spend more time with my family while embarking on new horizons.”

In a statement, Nicolet said that leading the organization “has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.” He added that Carr would allow IAC to “continue to flourish and achieve new milestones.”

Tal Shuster, chairwoman of the IAC’s CEO search committee, said: “We sought a leader with passion, connection, commitment, and a vision for the future of the IAC. As a second-generation Israeli-American, Elan stood out as a leader representing the future of our community. We are convinced that under his guidance and leadership, the IAC will continue to grow and thrive.”