White House to address rising antisemitism, attacks on Jews

The White House will address rising antisemitism in a roundtable even with Jewish leaders, hosted by the second gentleman Douglas Emhoff.

 Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, the first Jewish spouse of a president or a vice president, and his wife US Vice President Kamala Harris, stand beside a menorah during a Hanukkah celebration at the White House in Washington, US, December 1, 2021.  (photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)
Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, the first Jewish spouse of a president or a vice president, and his wife US Vice President Kamala Harris, stand beside a menorah during a Hanukkah celebration at the White House in Washington, US, December 1, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)

WASHINGTON – Jewish leaders are expected to go to the White House Wednesday, as the administration is holding a roundtable on antisemitism.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Conference of Presidents are among those groups who will have a seat at the table to discuss ways to combat the dramatic rise of antisemitism in the US.

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff will lead the discussion. Susan Rice, White House Domestic Policy Advisor; Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism; and Keisha Lance Bottoms, Senior Advisor to the President for Public Engagement, will join the roundtable.

A roundtable to fight US antisemitism at the White House

We're at a moment in our country where the antisemitism that we've seen is shocking, not just to the Jewish community, but to America as a whole,” says Ted Deutch, CEO of AJC.

“We will be proud to participate because our mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish community, and that starts with helping the community fight antisemitism at this most difficult time,” he said. “And we know, as the president and the second gentleman, that the White House and the administration can play an unparalleled role in focusing on sustained engagement with the community to help us address that.”

Douglas Emhoff walks off stage with his wife, Sen. Kamala Harris, at the end of the last day of the Democratic National Convention, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., Aug. 20, 2020.  (credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP / REUTERS)Douglas Emhoff walks off stage with his wife, Sen. Kamala Harris, at the end of the last day of the Democratic National Convention, at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., Aug. 20, 2020. (credit: OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP / REUTERS)

“We have to view it as a threat to the Jewish community, as the threat to society at large,” said Deutch. “Because when you allow antisemitism to go unchecked, it's never just the Jews who are at risk [although] they are always first.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO welcomed the White House’s decision to convene the roundtable, calling it “much-needed.”

“We are grateful for the actions that the Biden Administration has taken so far,” said Greenblatt. “As President Biden said just the other day, “Silence is complicity.” As ADL data has consistently shown, now is the time for a whole-of-government approach.”

“The administration must adopt a unified national strategy to meet the moment of the day most effectively,” Greenblatt said. “We continue to urge lawmakers, policy leaders, and civil society to speak out and condemn antisemitism wherever they see it, and ADL adds its unequivocal support to that of over 120 Members of Congress calling on the Administration to form an interagency task force to address antisemitism.”

Elana Broitman, SVP for Public Affairs at the Jewish Federations of North America, said that of all the challenges faced by the Jewish community, safety and security have continued to be the perennial and growing challenge. “That’s why Jewish Federations are raising and investing $130 million to build comprehensive security infrastructure for every Jewish community through LiveSecure, and continue to advocate for federal nonprofit security funds for all communities,” she said.

“But no level of security measures alone can defend our community when a rising tide of pernicious antisemitism inspires violent attacks and creates an environment of fear,” Broitman said. “That is why Jewish Federations are enthusiastic partners to the administration, bipartisan Congressional leaders, and civic leaders who are working to actively address the unique threats of antisemitism."

William Daroff, CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said that he commended the White House and Second gentleman Doug Emhoff for convening this roundtable to combat antisemitism in coordination with the heads of US Jewish organizations.

This summit could not come at a more critical time for the American Jewish community,” Daroff said in a statement. “Far too few Americans, including those working for the federal government, are able to identify acts of antisemitism when they occur. This became tragically evident last January when an FBI special agent in charge of the Dallas field office said that the Colleyville hostage-taker was motivated by an issue ‘not specifically related to the Jewish community.’ With dangerous, antisemitic rhetoric encroaching from the left and the right, it’s necessary to clearly define antisemitism in order to combat it successfully.”

Meanwhile, Jewish Insider reported that a bipartisan group of 125 lawmakers urged President Joe Biden in a letter to establish a “whole-of-government” approach to antisemitism.