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White House unveils national strategy to combat antisemitism

The 60-page national strategy lays out government actions to counter anti-Jewish hate, and calls on tech companies to crack down online.
White House unveils national strategy to combat antisemitism
Posted at 4:24 PM, May 25, 2023

The White House on Thursday unveiled a much-anticipated national strategy to counter antisemitism, including more than 100 new actions the Biden administration says it will take to counter anti-Jewish hate. The administration also called on Congress and big tech to crack down on antisemitism online.

In a video message, President Biden called the strategy an historic step forward.

"It sends a clear and forceful message: In America, evil will not win. Hate will not prevail. The venom and violence of antisemitism will not be the story of our time," he said.

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff — the first Jewish spouse of a president or vice president — and other White House officials detailed the 60-page strategy in a virtual event on Thursday. It is the first-ever nationwide strategy on antisemitism produced by the federal government.

"At its core, antisemitism divides us. It erodes our trust in government institutions and one another. It threatens our democracy while undermining our American values of freedom, community and decency," Emhoff said.

"We cannot stay silent. I will not remain silent. I will not stand idly by and allow antisemitism to poison our society," he added.

The strategy consists of four pillars to target antisemitism: Increasing awareness and understanding of antisemitism; improving safety and security in Jewish communities; reversing the normalizing of antisemitism; and building solidarity across communities.

The strategy calls on Congress to hold social media companies accountable for hate speech spread on their platforms, and it includes 10 specific calls for big tech companies to crack down on antisemitism online, including instituting zero-tolerance policies on hate speech and ensuring online algorithms don't spread antisemitic content.

A 2021 report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that five major social media platforms failed to remove 84% of antisemitic posts.

A 50-state survey released in 2020 found 63% of millennials and Gen Z Americans did not know that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

SEE MORE: Antisemitic attacks jump to highest levels in decades, ADL finds

Outgoing White House Domestic Policy Adviser Susan Rice said the National Holocaust Memorial Museum will launch the first ever U.S.-based holocaust education research center next year. Also, the National Endowment for Humanities will expand investments in K-12 education on antisemitism.

Federal agencies will also incorporate information on antisemitic bias in their anti-discrimination training programs.

White House officials on Thursday also highlighted the need to improve community safety. White House National Security Adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall said that the Biden administration had increased its funding to improve security at Jewish synagogues and other buildings from $180 million two years ago to $305 million today, and is calling on Congress for $360 million in the next budget.

The strategy follows months of community and inter-agency talks led by Doug Emhoff, who traveled to Poland and Germany earlier this year to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day and to meet with special envoys from across Europe to discuss strategies to combat antisemitic hatred.

In December, more than 100 members of Congress sent a letter to Biden urging him to formulate a national strategy on antisemitism. In the months since, officials have continued to highlight record levels of antisemitic speech online and increased hate crimes being committed in the U.S.

On Monday, a 19-year-old Missouri man crashed a U-Haul truck into a security barrier near the White House. 

The man, who was carrying a Nazi flag, said he wanted to "get to the White House, seize power and be put in charge of the nation," according to charging documents.

A coalition of 25 Jewish organizations praised the White House in a joint statement on Thursday for its "clarity and urgency" in releasing the strategy.

"We welcome the embrace of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism, which is a continuation of longstanding U.S. policy and a critical tool in the fight against anti-Jewish hate and bias. We look forward to collaborating with the White House and Congress to ensure the implementation of this National Strategy," the statement said.

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