(May 24, 2021 / JNS) Responding to alarmingly increased rates of anti-Jewish incidents in the United States and the world, U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both took to Twitter to condemn the actions on Monday.
“The recent attacks on the Jewish community are despicable, and they must stop,” tweeted Biden. “I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad—it’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.”
Expressing grave concern over the rise of anti-Semitic violence in the United States and the world, a group of major Jewish organizations wrote a letter to Biden on May 21, suggesting actions that he could take to bolster the administration’s response.
The letter was written jointly by the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Jewish Federations of North America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
The organizations said in the letter that they were grateful for America’s role in helping secure a ceasefire between Israeli and Hamas last week, but at the same time feared that the conflict has been used to amplify anti-Semitic rhetoric and embolden those looking to attack Jews and Jewish communities.
“We appreciate your strong stance throughout your career against anti-Semitism, and urge you to speak out forcefully against this dangerous trend and stand alongside the Jewish community in the face of this wave of hate before it gets any worse,” the letter stated.
It cited examples of violent anti-Semitic attacks since the start of the conflict, including incidents in Los Angeles, South Florida, New York City’s Times Square, and against synagogues in Skokie, Ill., and Tucson, Ariz. There were also anti-Semitic disruptions of pro-Israel rallies, including protesters who chanted “Hitler was right” to “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”—a slogan the letter said calls for a “wholesale genocide” of Jews, associated with the “push the Jews into the sea” slogan used by Arab military leaders following the establishment of modern-day Israel.
It also noted a rise in anti-Semitic acts and rhetoric around the world, including a fivefold rise in anti-Semitic incidents in London. A Chinese-run media organization claimed that U.S. foreign policy is controlled by wealthy Jews and the Jewish lobby; and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Israelis are only satisfied by sucking Palestinian blood.
The group suggested five ways Biden could strengthen his response to anti-Semitism.
These include using the president’s bully pulpit to unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism, appoint an ambassador-at-large to combat anti-Semitism—a position elevated to ambassador status by the Trump administration, re-establish and fill the position of a White House Jewish liaison, hold a White House-convened conversation on anti-Semitism and invest in security enhancements for religious institutions.
“While this is not an exhaustive list, we recognize that eradicating anti-Semitism—the world’s oldest form of hatred—requires a multi-pronged approach,” the letter said. “We are happy to convene a call on any of the above initiatives and stand by as active partners in the fight to eradicate bigotry and advance pluralism.”
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