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Biden vows antisemitism fight in Passover message: ‘I am committed to the safety of the Jewish people’


WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that he would be releasing a “comprehensive” strategy to combat antisemitism, citing incidents of anti-Jewish attacks from across the political spectrum in an apparent acknowledgment of concerns from the Jewish community that the focus should not be solely on the far right.

A senior official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the strategy, which Biden said would follow consultations with more than a thousand people, would be released before Rosh Hashanah.

“Rest assured that I am committed to the safety of the Jewish people,” Biden said Wednesday in a Passover-timed op-ed posted on CNN’s website. “I stand with you. America stands with you. Under my presidency, we continue to condemn antisemitism at every turn. Failure to call out hate is complicity.”

Biden once again said that his decision to run for president was spurred in part by the deadly 2017 neo-Nazi march in Charlottesville, Virginia, and then-President Donald Trump’s equivocal condemnations. But he also expanded his understanding of the threat as coming from other sectors, including physical attacks on visibly religious Jews, and the unease some Jewish students feel on campuses where they say pro-Palestinian advocacy can cross over antisemitism.

“We see this evil across society,” he said. “Terrorist attacks on synagogues. Bricks thrown through windows of Jewish businesses. Antisemitic flyers left on the front lawns of Jewish homes. Swastikas on cars and cemeteries. Antisemitic graffiti and acts in elementary, middle and high schools. Jewish students harassed on college campuses. Jews wearing religious attire beaten and shot on streets.”

At a roundtable convened late last year by the Jewish Second Gentleman, Doug Emhoff, a number of participants emphasized that the threat did not just come from the far right. Biden’s envoy to combat antisemitism, Deborah Lipstadt, has made that message central to her diplomacy.

Right-wing antisemites were responsible for two deadly attacks on U.S. synagogues in recent years — including in Pittsburgh, where the alleged shooter is set to stand trial later this month — and a recent Anti-Defamation League analysis found that a far-right group, the Goyim Defense League, largely drove a steep rise in the distribution of antisemitic literature. The ADL’s annual report, released last month, called on civic leaders including the president to denounce antisemitism of all origins.

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