Back in 2016, Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, presented the Theodor Herzl Award—the organization’s highest honor—to then-Vice President Joe Biden. On March 26, he penned a letter to the now U.S. president, whom he called “a friend of the Jewish people,” about the need to curb rising antisemitism.
“Today, America is witnessing the most frightening increase in antisemitism since the end of World War II,” Lauder wrote in the letter appearing as an ad in the New York Post. “Jews make up just 2% of the U.S. population, but are the target of more than half of all religious hate crimes.”
“Jews have been murdered, beaten and spat upon—especially Orthodox Jews—with almost complete silence from political leaders and the media,” added Lauder.
He noted that it is common for celebrities, athletes and even members of Congress to say “the most outrageous anti-Jewish slurs,” and Jewish students are “singled out” on campuses for their Jewish names or defense of Israel’s right to exist.
“Jewish enrollment at elite schools has plummeted. Jewish students are excluded from clubs and denied positions,” he wrote. “This is not Germany in 1938; this is the United States in 2023. Mr. President, only you can stop this rising tide of hatred against the Jewish people.”
Lauder urged Biden to state “in the strongest language” that hating Jews is dangerous and un-American. He also called on the U.S. president to do three things.
First, Biden should tell Americans that “antisemitism is no different than racism” in a major address. Second, the president should call out those, including “the extreme progressive members of your own party,” who support boycotting and divesting from Israel.
“These people don’t represent your values, the values of the Democratic Party or our country’s values,” wrote Lauder.
Third, Biden should direct the Education and Justice Departments to investigate antisemitism on campuses. Under the 2019 Executive Order that placed antisemitism under Title VI protections, colleges and universities are supposed to lose federal funding if they allow discrimination against Jews.
“This is not just a Democratic or Republican issue,” Lauder wrote. “It does not come only from the left or from the right. And it is not just a problem coming from non-Jews. … I will not be silent when Jews face hatred in America.”
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