White House releases national strategy to fight antisemitism
The White House rolled out its national strategy Thursday for combating antisemitism as the country grapples with record levels of violence, vandalism and hate speech directed at Jewish communities.
President Biden, second gentleman Doug Emhoff and other officials detailed the strategy during a virtual event from the White House. It is the first time the federal government has formulated a national effort to fight antisemitism, and the administration’s effort contains more than 100 provisions that call for congressional action, increased monitoring by technology platforms and improved education at the civic level.
Biden said the strategy has four overarching themes: increasing awareness and understanding of antisemitism; improving safety and security in Jewish communities; reversing the normalizing of antisemitism; and building solidarity across communities.
“It sends a clear and forceful message: In America, evil will not win. Hate will not prevail. The venom of antisemitism will not be the story of our time,” Biden said in a pre-recorded message shared Thursday.
The strategy contains 10 separate calls for technology companies to establish a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech on their platforms and to ensure their algorithms don’t spread antisemitic language, said Liz Sherwood-Randall, the White House’s homeland security adviser.
Susan Rice, the outgoing White House domestic policy adviser, said the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., will launch the first ever Holocaust Education Research Center in 2024 as part of an effort to increase awareness about the event, during which millions of Jews were systematically murdered during World War II.
And federal agencies will incorporate material on how to address antisemitism in diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility training programs moving forward, Rice said.
Biden in December established a government task force to coordinate efforts to fight antisemitism and other forms of religious bigotry. The group’s first task was to create a national strategy to counter antisemitism.
More than 100 lawmakers in December sent a letter to Biden urging him to formulate a national strategy to combat antisemitism as well as a government approach to threats and violence against Jewish communities.
Emhoff, who is Jewish, has played a leading role in formulating the strategy and collecting input. Emhoff in December hosted a roundtable with community leaders focused on the rise in antisemitism, and he traveled earlier this year to Poland to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“At its core, antisemitism divides us. It erodes our trust in government institutions and one another. It threatens our democracy while undermining our American values of freedom, community and decency,” Emhoff said Thursday.
“I know the fear. I know the pain. I know the anger that Jews are living with because of this epidemic of hate,” he added.
Officials have raised concerns that antisemitic incidents are at record levels in the U.S., including high profile attacks on synagogues and Jewish businesses, the spread of antisemitic conspiracy theories and vandalism involving swastikas.
Earlier this week, a 19-year-old was arrested after police said he crashed a U-Haul truck into barriers near the White House. A Nazi flag was recovered from the truck.
Prior to the establishment of the task force, Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, went on an antisemitic rant and attended a dinner at Mar-a-Lago with former President Trump and Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier and white nationalist.
The country has seen a rash of violence against Jewish communities in recent years, including shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh in 2018 and in Poway, Calif., in 2019.
Biden frequently cites the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 — during which demonstrators carried torches and chanted antisemitic phrases — as a key moment in his decision to run for president and defeat Trump.
The Anti-Defamation League, a major anti-hate group, had pressed the Biden campaign and the Trump campaign in 2019 to develop a national strategy for addressing antisemitism.
“In an environment where antisemitism is expanding and intensifying, we’re really pleased that the White House is taking it so seriously, that the admin has launched this plan,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Hill in an interview.
Updated 12:03 p.m.
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