White House announces national strategy to combat antisemitism

The Biden administration has announced a national strategy to fight antisemitism.

On Thursday, President Biden said the program is “the most ambitious and comprehensive U.S. government-led effort” in history.

“The past several years, hate has been given too much oxygen, fueling a rapid rise in antisemitism,” Biden said in a prerecorded message. “It’s simply wrong. It’s not only it’s immoral, it’s unacceptable. It’s on all of us to stop it.”

The 60-page strategy also comes at a time when the U.S. is dealing with record highs of violence and hate speech directed at Jewish communities. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there were 3,697 antisemitic incidents recorded in 2022, a 36% increase compared to 2021’s record figures and the highest number since the ADL started keeping such statistics in 1979.

Biden echoed a similar sentiment in the strategy’s report noting domestic terrorismthat’s rooted in white supremacy, including antisemitism, is “the greatest terrorist threat” in the country.

“Together, we must acknowledge and confront the reality that antisemitism is rising, both at homeand abroad,” Biden said. “Loud voices are normalizing this venom, but we must never allow it to become normal. Antisemitism threatens not only the Jewish community, but all Americans.”

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Biden’s countering antisemitism strategy has four overarching themes

The president said the strategy has four broad themes. They include increasing awareness and understanding of antisemitism; improving safety and security in Jewish communities; reversing the normalizing of antisemitism; and building solidarity across communities.

The Biden administration’s strategy consists of more than 100 provisions that call for congressional action, increased monitoring by big tech platforms and improved education at the civic level.

“It sends a clear and forceful message: In America, evil will not win. Hate will not prevail. The venom of antisemitism will not be the story of our time,” Biden added.

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Biden’s plan to fight antisemitism praised by religious leader

Biden’s plan was well received by one national religious leader seeking to curb antisemitism. Amanda Tyler, the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty said in a statement Thursday that the national strategy is a helpful step forward in the ongoing work of fulfilling the nation’s promise of religious freedom for all.

“No American truly has religious freedom until we all do. Antisemitism denies the promise of faith freedom for all and is used by extremists to divide us against each other,” said Tyler, who participated in a listening session contributing to the strategy’s development.

“Those who advance antisemitism want our Jewish neighbors to feel alone,” Tyler continued. “…we refuse to be divided. We must come together across lines of religious difference as allies to form a united front for religious freedom, democracy and pluralism.”

The president acknowledged in the strategy’s report that antisemitism not only threatens the U.S.’s Jewish community, which is about 3% of the country’s overall population but all Americans.

“People who peddle these antisemitic conspiracy theories and fuel racial, ethnic, and religious hatred againstJews also target other communities, including Black and brown Americans; Asian Americans,Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders; LGBTQI+ individuals; Muslim Americans; women andgirls; and so many others,” Biden said.

Antisemitism strategy unveiled after a man rammed a truck near White House with a Nazi flag

The plan comes after Sai Varshith Kandula, 19, of Chesterfield, Missouri was arrested earlier this week on federal charges after he crashed a U-Haul truck into barriers near the White House, authorities said. A Nazi flag was among several items discovered in Kandula’s truck.

The suspect told Secret Service agents on Monday he flew to Washington from a St. Louis suburb on a one-way ticket after months of planning, according to court documents. Kandula wanted to “get to the White House, seize power and be put in charge of the nation,” the documents said. The suspect also said he would “kill the president, if that’s what I have to do.”

Kandula remains in custody and has been charged in federal court with one count of depredation of property of the United States in excess of $1,000. He was originally arrested on several charges, including threatening to kill or harm a president, vice president or family member. He could face additional charges.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: White House launches national strategy to combat antisemitism

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