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The American Independent

Biden releases national strategy to combat antisemitism

President Joe Biden condemned ‘the venom and violence of antisemitism,’ a stark contrast to leading GOP figures who have increasingly embraced antisemitic rhetoric and conspiracy theories in recent years.

By Oliver Willis - May 26, 2023
FILE - President Joe Biden speaks during a reception to celebrate the Jewish new year in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff look on at right. Biden on Thursday, May 25, 2023, announced what he said is the most ambitious and comprehensive undertaking by the U.S. government to fight hate, bias and violence against Jews.
President Joe Biden speaks during a reception to celebrate the Jewish new year in the East Room of the White House alongside Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff in Washington, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

President Joe Biden on Thursday released the “U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism,” a set of directives across multiple government agencies to combat hate against Jewish Americans. The effort comes as many leading Republicans have continued to spread antisemitic tropes and attacks.

May is Jewish American Heritage Month, which was first celebrated following a proclamation by President Jimmy Carter in 1980. Biden released a proclamation recognizing this year’s observance on April 28.

“It’s the most ambitious and comprehensive U.S. government-led effort to fight antisemitism in American history,” Biden said in a video released on Thursday by the White House. “And it directs the whole of society, a whole-of-society effort in four key ways: first, increasing awareness and understanding of both antisemitism and Jewish American heritage; second, improving safety and security for Jewish communities; third, reversing the normalization of antisemitism and countering antisemitic discrimination; and fourth, building cross-community solidarity and collective action to fight hate.”

In addition to directives that will be sent to multiple government agencies to enact the strategy, Biden called on Congress, state and local governments, tech platforms, companies, and civil society to act to fight antisemitism.

“Silence is complicity. All of us must stand united to affirm that an attack on any one group of us is an attack on all of us,” Biden added. “In America, evil will not win. Hate will not prevail. The venom and violence of antisemitism will not be the story of our time.”

His remarks were followed by a presentation led by Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, and White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice. 

They stressed the need for the strategy in response to antisemitic rhetoric and hate crimes. A report released in April by the Anti-Defamation League said that 2,717 incidents of antisemitism were reported in 2021, an increase of 35% over the number reported by the organization the year before.

“I never thought that I would be working on the safety and security for Jewish Americans and Jews around the world would be my cause, but now more than ever we must all rise to the challenge and meet this moment,” Emhoff explained.

Citing her experience witnessing the effects of antisemitism while serving as U.S, ambassador to the United Nations and as national security adviser in the Obama administration, Rice said, “A firm and unrelenting response from government, business, and civil society is essential and is urgent.”

Emhoff said the strategy was a key component in the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to protect democracy and strengthen religious freedom.

The plan will instruct the FBI and the National Counterterrorism Center to produce an annual assessment of “antisemitic drivers of transnational violent extremism” that will be provided to technology companies. The administration will call on online platforms to adopt zero tolerance policies for hate speech and include prohibitions against antisemitism in their terms of service.

Antisemitism has been an issue of concern on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for years. A March 2023 report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue found that in February there were an average of 12,700 tweets with antisemitic language on Twitter following Elon Musk’s takeover of the site, and more than double of the average prior to it.

The Biden strategy will also seek to make it easier to report hate incidents to the federal government and will include education on antisemitism in diversity, equity and inclusion training provided to federal workers. At the same time, the Department of Education will create a campaign to raise awareness of antisemitism for K-12 and college students.

The administration first began development of the strategy in December with a roundtable led by Emhoff. That event followed a widely criticized meeting between former President Donald Trump, rapper Kanye West (an admirer of Adolf Hitler), and conservative activist Nick Fuentes (who has a long history of antisemitic rhetoric.)

While Trump claimed he did not know Fuentes, he did not condemn his antisemitism in statements following the meeting.

Trump has a history of expressing sympathy for antisemitic views, as have other Republican leaders and leading conservative media outlets.

In October 2017, Trump described white supremacists who attended a right-wing rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and chanted, “Jews will not replace us” as “very fine people.” More recently, on March 30 of this year, Trump complained that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who had indicted him on 34 felony charges connected with the alleged falsification of business records, was “hand-picked and funded by George Soros.”

On the same day, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis tweeted that Bragg was a “Soros-backed Manhattan District Attorney.”

Following the news of Trump’s indictment, Soros’ name was mentioned 41 times in a 24-hour period on Fox News.

Over the years many Republicans have invoked Soros, who is Jewish, in attacks on Democrats and progressives. Invoking the specter of a Jewish “puppet master” who supposedly controls world events is a longtime strategy of antisemitic movements.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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