Monday, 30 Jan 2023 - 8 of Shevat, 5783

White House holds roundtable to discuss growing antisemitism

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The roundtable follows a surge of anti-Jewish harrasment and physical attacks. According to data published by the Anti-Defamation League, 2021 saw the highest number of documented reports of harassment and violence towards Jews of any year since 1979, when ADL started tracking such cases.

Antisemitic rhetoric has become increasingly volatile in recent months— particularly with the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, making a series of comments attacking Jews and praising Hitler.

A bipartisan group of 126 Senators and Congressional Representatives sent a letter to the Biden administration recommending the development of a unified national strategy to combat antisemitism along with the creation of an interagency task force.

The White House will host on Wednesday a roundtable with Jewish leaders to discuss growing antisemitism.

The roundtable will be led by Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish, and joined by Susan Rice, Director of the Domestic Policy Council, Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism and and Senior Advisor to the President for Public Engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms.

“I’m in pain right now,” Emhoff tweeted on Friday, in a remark unrelated to the event. “Perpetuating lies, such as the denial of the Holocaust, and praising fascist murderers, is dangerous and fans the flames of antisemitism and hate. We all have an obligation to condemn these vile acts. We must not stay silent.”

The discussion will host leaders from 13 Jewish organizations including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), American Jewish Committee (AJC), and Jewish on Campus. “The roundtable will include leaders of Jewish organizations fighting antisemitism that represents the wide range of Jewish community from students to seniors, and including Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox denominations,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

The roundtable follows a surge of anti-Jewish harrasment and physical attacks. According to data published by the Anti-Defamation League, 2021 saw the highest number of documented reports of harassment and violence towards Jews of any year since 1979, when ADL started tracking such cases.

Antisemitic rhetoric has become increasingly volatile in recent months— particularly with the rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, making a series of comments attacking Jews and praising Hitler.

President Biden is not expected to attend the meeting, but recently spoke out against antisemitism in response to Kanye West’s antisemitic media rants following his dinner at Mar-a-Lago with former President Donald Trump. “The Holocaust happened. Hitler was a demonic figure. And instead of giving it a platform, our political leaders should be calling out and rejecting antisemitism wherever it hides,” Biden wrote.

A bipartisan group of 126 Senators and Congressional Representatives sent a letter to the Biden administration on Tuesday recommending the development of a unified national strategy to combat antisemitism along with the creation of an interagency task force.

“Combating a growing threat of this magnitude, particularly here at home, requires a strategic, whole-of-government approach,” the letter says. “Interagency coordination also could benefit from considering a broadly understood definition of antisemitism, as several agencies have adopted or recognized individually. Because many individual agencies play a critical role in combating antisemitism, closer coordination is needed to share best practices, data, and intelligence; identify gaps in efforts; streamline overlapping activities and roles; and execute a unified national strategy. The strategic collaboration of such entities would also send a key message to the American people and the international community that the United States is committed to fighting antisemitism at the highest levels.”

The letter was drafted by the co-chairs of the Senate and House Bipartisan Task Forces for Combating Antisemitism: Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK) and Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Chris Smith (R-NJ).

The letter cites the alarming rise in antisemitic violence as proof of the need for such action, including FBI statistics that show that antisemitic hate crimes make up 60% of all such incidents based on religion.

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