Biden launches first US national strategy to combat anti-Semitism

American Jews are the victims of 63 per cent of reported religiously motivated hate crimes

Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, the site of a hostage crisis last year. White House officials have described a growing 'epidemic of hate' against Jewish people in the US. EPA
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President Joe Biden on Thursday launched the first US national strategy to combat anti-Semitism at a moment when anti-Jewish hate is on the rise in the country.

The strategy includes more than 100 new actions the administration will take “to raise awareness of anti-Semitism and its threat to American democracy, protect Jewish communities, reverse the normalisation of anti-Semitism and build cross-community solidarity”, the White House said.

American Jews are the victims of 63 per cent of reported religiously motivated hate crimes, while accounting for slightly more than 2 per cent of the US population, according to the FBI.

The new White House initiative will also include an inter-agency effort to “understand and eliminate the impediments to reporting of hate incidents” in co-ordination with the National Security Council.

Under the initiative, the Holocaust Memorial Museum will launch the first-ever US-based Holocaust education research centre. US agencies will also create new materials on contemporary anti-Semitism and Jewish-American heritage and history.

Last year, the conversation over what White House officials have called an “epidemic of hate” reached a tipping point during a series of high-profile displays of hatred against Jewish people.

Second gentleman Douglas Emhoff, who is Jewish, hosted a roundtable in December amid a surge in anti-Semitic hate speech, including from prominent cultural figures such as rap artist and fashion mogul Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, and basketball player Kyrie Irving.

After meeting Donald Trump and white supremacist Nick Fuentes at the former president's Mar-a-Lago resort, Ye appeared on alt-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones's show, during which he went on a lengthy tirade, declaring at one point: “I like Hitler.”

“At its core, anti-Semitism divides us, erodes our trust in government, institutions and one another,” Mr Emhoff, husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, said at the strategy's White House launch.

“It threatens our democracy while undermining our American values of freedom, community and decency.”

The Israeli ambassador to Washington, Michael Herzog, congratulated the White House on the strategy and thanked Mr Biden “for prioritising the need to confront anti-Semitism in all its forms”.

A 2022 poll from J Street, a non-profit organisation that focuses on Jewish-American voters and is a self-branded “pro-Israel, pro-peace” organisation, found that 97 per cent of Jewish people in the US are concerned about the rise of anti-Semitism.

Updated: May 25, 2023, 6:51 PM