President Joe Biden said Thursday that he was motivated to run for his current office when Neo-Nazis and white nationalists marching in Charlottesville, Va., in the summer of 2017, were “spewing the same antisemitic bile we heard in the 1930s in Europe.”
His statement, marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, appears at odds with reporting that Biden eyed the 2016 nomination until former President Barack Obama discouraged him. But the president stated that antisemitism has been a part of his education since his father instilled in him the promise of “never again” to the “horrors of the Shoah” at family dinners.
“It’s a lesson I’ve passed on to my own children and grandchildren by taking them to Dachau to understand for themselves the depths of this evil—and the complicity of those who knew what was happening, yet said nothing,” he said.
The president and first lady mourn the 6 million Jews “systematically and savagely murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust” and “to grieve the Roma and Sinti, Slavs, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and political dissidents who were also killed,” stated Biden.
Pro-Nazi vandalism and messages, attacks against Jews and Holocaust denial today go against American values, Biden said. “Together, we must affirm, over and over, that hate has no safe harbor in America.”
The statement highlighted several of the administration’s programs that fight hatred, including synagogue security funding and the appointment of Deborah Lipstadt, the first ambassadorial-level special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism. A professor, Lipstadt is best known for her trial for libel, represented in the 2016 movie “Denial.”
At times, the Biden administration has faced criticism on this subject. The Senate did not advance the White House’s nominee for Brazilian ambassador, following Washington Free Beacon reporting she had commented on the “major money” of the “Jewish lobby” and said Democrats “always tend to go with the Jewish constituency on Israel and say stupid things, like moving the capital to Jerusalem always comes up.”
Criticism has also centered on repeated delays accepting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism and the Executive Order on Combating Antisemitism signed in 2019.