Doug Emhoff
Doug EmhoffAnna Moneymaker/Pool via REUTERS

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff held a White House roundtable on antisemitism on Wednesday, during which he warned of a “rapid rise” in antisemitism across the United States.

Emhoff, the first Jewish person in the position, convened the discussion as antisemitism surges across the United States, which he termed an “epidemic of hate facing our country,” according to CNN.

“We’re seeing a rapid rise in antisemitic rhetoric and acts,” Emhoff said, opening the roundtable. “Let me be clear: words matter. People are no longer saying the quiet parts out loud – they are literally screaming them.”

He went onto say that there was no “both sides” to the issue. “Antisemitism is dangerous. We cannot normalize this… There is only one side. Everyone, all of us, must be against this.”

The event, held in the Indian Treaty Room, was attended by over a dozen Jewish organizations from all walks of Jewish life. Participating also were government officials, including Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt; White House Jewish Liaison Shelley Greenspan; White House Domestic Policy Adviser Susan Rice; Director of Public Engagement Keisha Lance Bottoms; and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Josh Geltzer.

Emhoff added that he planned to continue to use his position as second gentleman to speak out against antisemitism.

“As long as I have this microphone, I’m going to speak out against hate, bigotry, lies. I’m going to speak out against those who praise fascist murderers and idealize extremists. I’m going to speak out against Holocaust deniers. I’m going to call those out who won’t do it,” he said.

During the event, Lipstadt commented that “antisemites come in all political persuasions. They can also be Christians, they can be Muslims, they can be atheist and they can Jews. Antisemitism, the oldest and most consistent hatred, is so deeply based in social beliefs, that (there are) people who don’t consider themselves antisemites, and who are not antisemites, but who fall prey to antisemitic ideas.”

Emhoff is the first Jewish person among the top four officials — the president, vice president and their spouses — in the executive branch of government, and he has become increasingly outspoken about growing bias toward the Jewish community, and hate at large, in the US.

The roundtable follows the latest antisemitic comments by rapper Kanye West, who gave an interview to Alex Jones of Infowars last week in which he said he “loves everyone,” including Jews, as well as Nazis, spoke favorably of Hitler and denied the Holocaust.

West later posted an image of a swastika inside a Star of David on his Twitter account, prompting Twitter owner Elon Musk to suspend his account a second time.