Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, spoke to a crowd of nearly 300,000 people at the “March for Israel” in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14.
“Two hundred and 30 years ago, President George Washington reassured the Jews of Newport that our new nation would give bigotry no sanction and persecution no assistance; his meaning and his message were quite specific,” she said. “In the United States of America, the bigotry of antisemitism must have no place, no quarter, no haven, no home, antisemitism, or more explicitly, Jew-hatred—the world’s longest, oldest form of prejudice, [which] has pierced and permeated too many countries, too many cultures, faith communities.”
Echoing previous statements she has made describing the universality of antisemitism, Lipstadt described how hatred “comes at us from all political, religious and cultural directions. Groups that agree on nothing else, agree on their suspicion and hatred of Jews, and if we needed any reminder about the validity of that claim, the past five weeks have made it plain.”
She emphasized the bipartisan condemnation of antisemitism, describing how as a representative of U.S. President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the U.S. government, “I can tell you without hesitation regardless of party or political persuasion, at the White House or in the Congress, at home and abroad, this government stands shoulder to shoulder against Jew-hatred.”
Lipstadt explained how the threat of hate towards Jewish people went beyond bigotry against one group—that it was “far more than just that. It is an affront to the integrity of our laws. It is a gateway to prejudice, racism, injustice of every form. It is a direct danger to our democracy and we, the United States government, will fight it. Full stop.”
The special envoy laid out the extent of ongoing antisemitic crimes and intimidations, and that “when Holocaust memorials are vandalized in Canada, France, Greece, Denmark, or the United States, when Molotov cocktails are thrown at synagogues in Berlin and Montreal, when Jews peacefully protesting are physically or verbally intimidated, when Jewish children are harassed, when protesters chant ‘gas the Jews,’ when Jewish stars are painted on buildings housing Jews, that is not expressing support for Palestinian rights, that is Jew-hatred, pure and simple.”
The crowd then burst into cheers and applause.
‘Do not cower’
“We must not be blind to the hate implicit in the widespread celebrations of Hamas’s Oct. 7 killing spree. When protesters chant ‘peace and glory to the martyrs’ that incites more hatred, more deaths, it is a danger to the values and underpinning to the stability and decency of any society anywhere in the world,” Lipstadt said. “Hate is not a zero-sum game. Hate and violence directed at any member of our society because of who they are is un-American and wrong. Thankfully, countries once beset by antisemitism are acting to counter it. Our major European allies have deployed legions of police officers to protect Jewish institutions.”
Lipstadt cautioned that while many nations had stepped up to fight hate, “there are some countries that are spreading and fostering hatred of Jews. The world must unite to condemn and combat it. Today, gathered before me on this fall are people of all faiths, beliefs, identities and backgrounds; you are united by your abhorrence of Jew-hatred and your recognition of its lethal nature. We are grateful for the myriad of law-enforcement personnel who protect us. And please remember to thank them.”
Organizers said nearly 300,000 people were estimated to be at the march with another 250,000 tuned in to a livestream.
The rising climate of fear in public places was also addressed by the special envoy, who said that “no group of Americans should have to live that way. They should live free and need no protection, unflinching and unafraid.”
And in a pointed way, she said: “Let me be clear: Do not sink to the level of those who harass you, do not tear down posters, do not intimidate those who disagree with you, do not cross their path or taunt them as they do to you. But do not cower. Allow no one to make you afraid.”
In her conclusion, Lipstadt returned to Washington’s promise to the Jewish people at the nation’s founding. “The fight will be a long one. But Jews have faced such challenges before and have overcome them. You who hate this evil will prevail because this cause has justice wholly on its side,” the special envoy said. “The fight will be won because there is no option. And because as President Washington reassured the Jews of Newport, this nation gives bigotry no sanction, and 230 years later, that still holds true.”