Biden announces inter-agency group to counter antisemitism

“The President has tasked the inter-agency group, as its first order of business, to develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism,” said the White House Press Secretary.

 US PRESIDENT Joe Biden delivers remarks during a meeting with business and labor leaders at the White House, last week. The result of the midterm election considerably enhanced Biden’s credibility, says the writer (photo credit: REUTERS)
US PRESIDENT Joe Biden delivers remarks during a meeting with business and labor leaders at the White House, last week. The result of the midterm election considerably enhanced Biden’s credibility, says the writer
(photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – US President Joe Biden has unveiled the new Inter-Agency Group to Counter Antisemitism. The announcement comes on the heels of the recent spike of antisemitic incidents in the US.

“As President Biden has made clear: antisemitism has no place in America,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement Monday. “All Americans should forcefully reject antisemitism – including Holocaust denial – wherever it exists.”

Biden is establishing the inter-agency group, led by Domestic Policy Council staff and National Security Council staff, “to increase and better coordinate US government efforts to counter antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of bias and discrimination within the United States,” she said.

“All Americans should forcefully reject antisemitism – including Holocaust denial – wherever it exists."

Karine Jean-Pierre
 White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre conducts a daily press briefing at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Feb. 14, 2022.  (credit: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES/JTA) White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre conducts a daily press briefing at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Feb. 14, 2022. (credit: ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES/JTA)

“The president has tasked the inter-agency group, as its first order of business, to develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism,” said Jean-Pierre. This strategy “will raise understanding about antisemitism and the threat it poses to the Jewish community and all Americans, address antisemitic harassment and abuse both online and offline, seek to prevent antisemitic attacks and incidents, and encourage whole-of-society efforts to counter antisemitism and build a more inclusive nation,” she said.

“We look forward to working with advocates, civil rights leaders, civil society, and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to continue countering the scourge of antisemitism,” said the White House spokeswoman.

US Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada) applauded the news and said that with Jewish communities here in the US and worldwide experiencing an epidemic of anti-Jewish bigotry and violence, “a whole-of-government approach is needed to counter the scourge of antisemitism.”

“I am pleased to see President Biden heeded our call to convene an interagency group and develop a national strategy to combat antisemitism,” said Rosen. “The steps announced today will go a long way toward improving the United States’ ability to combat antisemitism, helping to keep communities safe and eradicate hate.”

Biden’s announcement follows a bipartisan, bicameral letter led by Rosen and signed by 125 colleagues in the Senate and House calling for the development of a unified national strategy to monitor and combat antisemitism and ensure closer interagency coordination, with the goal of adopting a whole-of-government approach.

TED DEUTCH, CEO of the American Jewish Committee thanked Biden “for taking this bold move at a time when a coordinated government response to antisemitism and other hatred is needed more than ever.

“AJC stands ready to help the Biden administration develop a national strategy to combat antisemitism,” he said. “Anti-Jewish incidents have risen to alarming levels all over the US. All must stand together against this hatred and continuously condemn it,” said Deutch. “A whole-of-government approach is essential so government agencies can quickly and effectively combat the world’s oldest hatred as it morphs into contemporary forms.”

The White House also hosted a roundtable session on Wednesday to discuss the rise of antisemitism in the US. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish, led the event. “I’m proud to be Jewish, I am proud to live openly as a Jew, and I’m not afraid,” he told participants, adding: “I will not live in fear.”

Emhoff was joined by Jewish leaders from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the AJC, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Chabad, the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), and the Orthodox Union (OU), among other groups.

Several senior administration officials represented the White House, including White House Domestic Policy Adviser Ambassador Susan Rice, Senior Advisor to the President for Public Engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms, White House Jewish Liaison Shelley Greenspan, and Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt.

Emhoff opened his remarks by saying “there is an epidemic of hate facing our country.”

“Let me be clear: Words matter,” he said. “People are no longer saying the quiet parts out loud – they are screaming them. We cannot normalize this; we all have an obligation to condemn these vile acts. We must not stay silent. There is no either/or. There are no two sides. Everyone must be against this.”

Last week, Aaron Keyak, deputy special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism at the State Department, vowed in a conversation with The Jerusalem Post to combat the rise of antisemitism.

“I think it’s important to understand that antisemitism is an ancient hatred,” he said. “I wish that we had the answer that would end antisemitism, but the truth is we’re not going to end antisemitism. The truth is that Jew-hatred exists everywhere in every country, on every day, in every community. Yet, we must fight it and do all we can to combat it.”