American Jewish World Service Expresses Grave Concerns about the Nomination of Rex Tillerson as the Next U.S. Secretary of State

American Jewish World Service cites Tillerson’s lack of diplomatic experience and Exxon Mobil’s 40-year record of suppressing climate science as reasons for concern.

New York, NY – In response to President-elect Donald J. Trump’s nomination of Rex Tillerson, Chief Executive of Exxon Mobil, to be the next United States Secretary of State, Robert Bank—the President and CEO of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish organization dedicated to advancing human rights worldwide—released the following statement:

“As American Jews who are deeply committed to upholding human rights worldwide and reversing climate change, we are gravely concerned by the nomination of Rex Tillerson, Chief Executive of Exxon Mobil, to serve as the next United States Secretary of State. Our mission is rooted in the enduring Jewish value of respecting the dignity of every person and the sanctity of the very earth on which we live, and we don’t believe that Rex Tillerson is equipped to be the kind of leader our nation and people around the world need at this challenging time in our history.

“We believe it is a fundamental requirement for any U.S. Secretary of State to ensure that promoting human rights and reversing the horrific effects of climate change are central pillars of our foreign policy. Unfortunately, Rex Tillerson cannot meet either of these crucial challenges, as he has long represented interests that are in deep conflict with these principles.

“Tillerson’s nomination is deeply disturbing, as he is the leader of one of the world’s largest energy corporations—which has polluted the global environment, developed close relationships with dictators, and used its resources over 40 years to suppress climate science. A U.S. Secretary of State must stand up for democratic values and civil and political rights globally, and Tillerson’s record portends the opposite.

“At American Jewish World Service, we support 180 indigenous communities in 13 countries worldwide that are engaged in struggles to protect their land, water and forests from harmful, exploitative oil drilling, coal mining and other development projects conducted without their consent. Many of these advocates who challenge corporate interests work in politically repressive societies and stand up for their land and natural resources at great risk to their own personal safety. We are concerned that if Tillerson serves as our next Secretary of State, he will exacerbate the problems these communities and advocates face, rather than alleviate them. He has worked closely with repressive regimes in the past, and he is likely to support corporations that plunder the earth without regard for the impact on the environment or the people who depend on the land for survival.

“As the United States Senate fulfills its constitutional duty to review and vote on the President’s nomination of Tillerson to serve as U.S. Secretary of State, we urge members of the Senate to press Tillerson about the following:

  • Potential conflicts of interest between his business interests and his shaping of U.S. foreign policy.
  • The role of Exxon Mobil as a polluter and its reluctance to act responsibly in the wake of environmental disasters.
  • Exxon Mobil’s 40-year-track record of suppressing climate science.
  • Exxon Mobil’s close relationships to authoritarian regimes and leaders, including Russia and President Vladimir V. Putin—and what that implies about Tillerson upholding and protecting the rights to freedom of speech, assembly and association, which are essential for organizing for social change, especially in repressive societies; and
  • The necessity to maintain the United States’ commitment to its climate obligations—including financial contributions to the global effort and maintaining support for the Paris Agreement.




About American Jewish World Service

American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is the leading Jewish organization working to promote human rights and end poverty in the developing world. AJWS promotes civil and political rights; advances sexual health and rights; defends access to food, land and water; and aids communities in the aftermath of disasters. AJWS pursues lasting change by supporting grassroots and global human rights organizations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and by advocating for U.S. and international policies for justice and equality worldwide. Learn more at


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