US President Joe Biden on Tuesday denounced antisemitism and reiterated his support for Israel, as he spoke at a White House event in honor of Jewish Heritage Month.
Biden condemned antisemitism as a “stain on the soul of America”, and noted that it was the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, where protesters carried torches and chanted phrases including “Jews will not replace us,” that convinced him to run for the White House in 2020.
“That’s when I knew we had to stay engaged in the work of our time. Hate never goes away,” Biden said, before pointing out that antisemitic incidents are at record levels in the United States.
“It’s unconscionable. It’s almost unbelievable. It’s despicable,” Biden said. “These acts are a threat to other minority communities as well. But more importantly, it’s literally a stain on the soul of America. We have to be clear… Silence is complicity.”
The President also previewed his administration's national strategy to combat antisemitism, which will be officially revealed later this month.
"This strategy reflects input from over 1,000 Jewish community members and other stakeholders, including Jews from diverse backgrounds and all denominations. It also includes members of Congress, businesses and civil society at the state and local officials and so many more," Biden said.
He noted the plan will include over 100 meaningful actions that government agencies will take to counter antisemitism, as well as over 100 calls to action for Congress, state and local governments, companies, technology platforms, civil society, faith leaders and others.
The strategy is set include four separate pillars: addressing increasing awareness and understanding of both antisemitism and Jewish-American heritage, improving safety and security for Jewish communities, reversing the normalization of antisemitism and addressing antisemitic discrimination, and building coalitions across all communities to fight hate.
On Israel, Biden condemned "rockets launched indiscriminately into Israel from terrorists in Gaza, forcing terrified families to hide with their children and bunkers to seek safety."
"My support for Israel's security remains long-standing and unwavering, including the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks, and I'm proud of our support — and my colleagues that are here today as well — for Israel's Iron Dome, which has intercepted thousands of rockets and saved countless lives," he stressed.
Also speaking at Tuesday’s event was Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, the first Jewish spouse of a US President or Vice President, who has made combating antisemitism one of key elements of his time in office.
“Right now we are experiencing a marked rise of antisemitism, not only in our country but throughout the world,” he said. “And it’s unfortunately part of an overall epidemic of hate. But I know I’m doing everything I can to fight back.”