President Joe Biden unveiled his administration’s new “whole of society” plan to combat antisemitism Thursday, which he called the “most ambitious and comprehensive US government-led effort to fight antisemitism in American history.”
“The past several years, hate has been given too much oxygen, fueling a rapid rise in antisemitism,” Biden said in a prerecorded message. “It’s simply wrong. It’s not only it’s immoral, it’s unacceptable. It’s on all of us to stop it.”
Biden laid out the four-pronged strategy, starting with an effort to increase awareness and understanding of antisemitism and Jewish American heritage. Domestic policy adviser Susan Rice said the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights non-governmental organization, found in 2020 that 85% of Americans believe at least one antisemitic trope.
“A study found that more than three in five American millennials and Generation Z didn’t know that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust,” Rice continued. “This is simply unacceptable.”
She announced the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum would launch the first ever US-based Holocaust education research center and called for increased school-based education about antisemitism.
The plan also calls for improving safety and security for Jewish communities, reversing the normalization of antisemitism and countering antisemitic discrimination. Homeland Security Adviser Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall said the administration’s efforts include, “10 separate calls to tech companies to establish a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech on their platforms to ensure that their algorithms do not pass along hate speech and extreme content to users, and to listen more closely to Jewish groups to better understand how antisemitism manifests itself on their platforms.”
“The president has also called on Congress to remove the special immunity for online platforms and to impose stronger transparency requirements in order to ensure that tech companies are removing content that violates their terms of service,” Sherwood-Randall said. “More broadly, pillar three focuses on countering antisemitic discrimination in all sectors of American society. For example, the Department of Education today issued a letter reminding schools of their obligations to address discrimination.”
Biden said the administration will also work towards “building cross community solidarity and collective action to fight hate.” Rice said that White House would recognize leaders with what she called an “ally challenge,” where Americans would be invited to “describe their acts of ally ship with Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh or other communities that are not their own.”
“All of us must stand united to affirm that an attack on any one group of us is an attack on all of us,” the president said. He called the strategy a “historic step forward,” that “sends a clear and forceful message in America, evil will not win, hate will not prevail.”
The administration also highlighted that part of the plan includes working with professional sports leagues like the NBA, WNBA, NFL, MLS and NASCAR, as well as the National Basketball Players Association. A statement from the White House said the strategy “calls on professional sports leagues and sports clubs and associations to use their powerful platforms to raise awareness about antisemitism in the US and asks that sports leagues consider combating antisemitism and other forms of hate, discrimination, and bias in sports.”
“The venom and violence of antisemitism will not be the story of our time,” Biden said. “We’re committed we’re committed to restoring the soul American restoring it together, and we got to get to it now.”
CNN previously reported that antisemitic incidents in the US reached their highest level last year since the ADL began recording them in 1979. The incidents including assault, vandalism and harassment increased by more than a third in just one year and reached nearly 3,700 cases in 2022, an ADL report found.
Just days ago, a man with a Nazi flag crashed a U-Haul truck into a security barrier at the White House. According to court documents, the suspect praised Adolf Hitler to investigators after his arrest and said that he aimed to “kill the president” if necessary to overthrow the government and install himself in power.
The announcement was met with widespread praise from Jewish advocacy groups, including the World Jewish Congress who said it “is appreciative that the White House has incorporated specific points for which we advocated, and we commend the administration for elevating the voices of Jewish students.”
“However,” the statement continues, “the inclusion of a secondary definition in addition to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism is an unnecessary distraction from the real work that needs to be done.”
The report notes the administration “welcomes and appreciates” the Nexus Document – which includes language on Israel and Zionsim – in addition to the IHRA definition.
Other groups applauded the inclusion of that passage, including Progressive American Rabbis, who said it was “glad to see the administration recognizes there are multiple definitions of antisemitism and focuses primarily on actions to counter antisemitism, rather than focusing on definitions.”