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Marking five years since deadliest US anti-Jewish attack, Biden denounces Islamophobia

The president's message on the five-year anniversary of the attack on Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue came days after the White House press secretary answered a question about rising antisemitism by commenting on Islamophobia.

Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Credit: Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Credit: Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre drew criticism on Monday, for answering a question about rising antisemitism by pivoting to anti-Muslim hatred. On Tuesday, the spokeswoman began the White House press briefing appearing to apologize, but she again universalized Jew-hatred.

On Friday, her boss did the same in his presidential message marking the five-year anniversary since the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history, the Oct. 27, 2018 attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood which killed 11 Jewish worshippers.

“Today marks five years since the deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh—the deadliest act of antisemitism in our nation’s history,” U.S. President Joe Biden stated. “The hearts of Jewish communities were shattered, leaving behind survivors and families who will never be the same.”

Biden added that “Deepening the wound, today’s remembrance comes on the heels of the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” noting the more than 1,400 Jews massacred by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7.

“This devastating atrocity has brought to the surface painful memories left by millennia of antisemitism and the genocide of the Jewish people,” he wrote. “The fear is amplified by the alarming rise of antisemitism abroad and at home.”

Biden concluded by universalizing antisemitism, as the White House press secretary had twice done earlier in the week.

“During these difficult times, we must never lose hope or give up on a better tomorrow. We must recommit to speaking out against bigotry and hate in all its forms, whether it is racism, antisemitism or Islamophobia,” he wrote. “And we must come together as fellow Americans to heal the soul of our nation.”

Experts have told JNS that inconsistency governs when antisemitism has been required to have “and other forms of bigotry” and Islamophobia as chaperones.

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