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White House discusses national strategy to fight anti-Semitism

Members of the Bipartisan Task Force for Combating Antisemitism on Wednesday met with White House officials to discuss the Biden administration’s forthcoming national strategy to fight rising anti-Jewish bigotry and hate. The group, comprising members of the Senate and House of Representatives, met with Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall, Homeland Security Advisor Susan Rice, and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris.

“I was glad to have the opportunity to meet with the White House today to discuss ways we can further protect Jewish Americans, who are experiencing an unprecedented rise in antisemitism hate crimes,” Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY), co-chair of the task force said in a press release on Wednesday. “Second Gentleman Emhoff and Ambassador Susan Rice provided helpful insights about the coming National Strategy, and I appreciated their taking into consideration my priority to ensure the safety of my Jewish constituents.”

In Wednesday’s press release, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) emphasized the importance of bipartisan cooperation in fighting antisemitism.

“We are committed to working together to ensure we denounce antisemitism wherever and whenever we see it, educating young people about the Holocaust, and raising awareness about the dangers of antisemitism continuing to fester in our society,” Lankford said. “I will not allow this rise in antisemitic hate around our nation and around the world to continue unanswered.”

Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC), Randy Weber (D-NC), Marc Veasey (D-TX), and Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), who serve as co-chairs on the bipartisan task force, also attended the meeting.

In December, President Joe Biden appointed an inter-agency group for developing a national strategy on antisemitism, an initiative White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said will “address antisemitic harassment 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.”

The administration has not yet said when the strategy will be made public.

Since his inauguration in 2021, the administration has taken several steps to confront antisemitism throughout the US, including appropriating $305 million to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which paid for upgrading security at synagogues, day schools, and other nonprofits. Additionally, in 2022, he appointed the first ever US special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, nominating Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt to fill the position.

In April, when the Biden administration became the first to apply Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to anti-Zionist discrimination, the President said in an op-ed for CNN that recent hate crimes against the Jewish people are “unconscionable and despicable.” In May, he declared May as Jewish Heritage Month, saying that “the story of the Jewish people has been woven into the fabric of our nation’s story.”

Antisemitic incidents in the US hit a record high in 2022, according to an annual audit issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in March. The ADL recorded 3,697 incidents — ten per day — across the US, the highest ever since the group began track them in 1979. Incidents of harassment, vandalism, and assault all spiked by double digits and occurred most frequently in New York, California, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas, which accounted for 54 percent of the ADL’s data. New York had the most, with 580 incidents. One resulted in a fatality.

Dion J. Pierre