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Biden proposes new strategy to tackle rise in anti-Semitism, says ‘hate will not prevail’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced on Thursday what he believes is the U.S. government’s most ambitious and comprehensive undertaking to combat hate, bias and violence against Jews, outlining more than 100 steps the government and its partners can take to an alarming rise in anti-Semitism.

Biden said during a videotaped speech at the White House that the first US national strategy to combat anti-Semitism sends a “clear and strong message” that “in America, evil will not win, hate will not prevail” and “the venom and violence of anti-Semitism will not be the story of our times.”

Months in the making, the strategy has four basic goals: to increase awareness and understanding of anti-Semitism, including its threat to America, and to increase appreciation of Jewish-American heritage; improving safety and security for Jewish communities; roll back the normalization of anti-Semitism and combat anti-Semitic discrimination; and building “cross-community” solidarity and collective action to counter hate.

Jewish organizations largely applauded the government’s efforts.

“Jewish security is inseparable from the security of other communities and the health and vibrancy of our multiracial democracy,” said Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the Jewish Public Affairs Council. society, the urgency of this framework is even clearer.”

The strategy also calls on Congress, state and local governments, technology companies and other private companies, faith leaders and others to help combat prejudice and hatred directed against Jews.

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Tech companies are being asked to adopt a “zero-tolerance” policy against anti-Semitic content on their platforms. The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has committed to launching an educational research center. Professional sports leagues and clubs are being asked to use their platforms and clout to raise awareness. The White House Office of Public Involvement will invite members of the public to describe how they have supported Jewish, Muslim, or other communities different from their own.

Doug Emhoff, who is married to Vice President Kamala Harris, said at the White House that by 2022, hate crimes against Jews would account for 63%, or nearly two-thirds, of all religiously motivated hate crimes in the United States, even though Jews accounted for just over 2% of the total population.

“I know the fear. I know the pain. I know the anger that Jews live with because of this hate epidemic,” said Emhoff, the first Jewish spouse of a US president or vice president. He has become the government’s liaison for combating anti-Semitism.

Emhoff, a former California entertainment attorney, said he never thought this issue would become “my case” as the second lord of the United States, “but now, more than ever, we must all rise to the challenge and take this moment.” He said the plan will save lives.

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“We are doing everything we can to ensure that everyone can live openly, proudly and safely in their own community,” Emhoff said. “It’s up to all of us to end the deep rooted hatred we see in our country. We can’t normalize this.”

In a sign of the administration’s support for the strategy, Emhoff was flanked by White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice; homeland security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall; and Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism.

Harris slipped into the room for a few minutes to watch her husband from the back of the room and gave a thumbs up before leaving.

A survivor of the 2018 Tree of Life synagogue massacre in Pittsburgh, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in US history, welcomed the strategy.

“I am proud that our leaders recognize the urgency and importance of a comprehensive fight against anti-Semitism, but deplore the levels of anti-Semitism in the country that necessitated a plan in the first place,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who survived the attack. attack that killed 11 believers.

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Jury selection came to a close on Thursday in the trial of Robert Bowers, the man charged with those murders. Testimony is expected to begin Tuesday.

In his videotaped remarks, Biden said that hate doesn’t go away, it just hides until it gets oxygen. He recalled the deadly rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, noting that the participants’ anti-Semitic chants led him to run for president in 2020.

“Silence is complicity,” said the president.

Last fall, Biden hosted a White House summit against hate-fueled violence. Emhoff led a discussion at the White House last December with Jewish community leaders to discuss the rise in anti-Semitism and how to counter it. Days later, Biden formed a government working group to develop the new strategy.

Lipstadt said the strategy’s release is a “historic moment in the modern battle against what is known as the world’s oldest hatred.”

“For the first time, the United States government not only recognizes that anti-Semitism is not only a serious problem in this country, but is also establishing a clear plan to counter it,” she said.


AP White House correspondent Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

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