White House unveils strategy to combat antisemitism

WASHINGTON — The White House on Thursday released a comprehensive plan to counter antisemitism across the U.S. that includes such things as addressing lack of education about the Holocaust, security at Jewish institutions and the proliferation of conspiracy theories on the Internet.

The strategy features four pillars: increasing awareness and understanding of antisemitism, improving safety for Jewish communities, reversing the normalization of antisemitism and building solidarity among religious groups.

“We must say clearly and forcefully that antisemitism and all forms of hate and violence have no place in America,” President Joe Biden said in a video clip at an event announcing the plan, which he said is the “most ambitious and comprehensive U.S. government-led effort to fight antisemitism in American history.”

Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris and the first Jewish spouse of a vice president, said at the event that antisemitism has divided American society.

“It threatens our democracy while undermining our American values of freedom, community and decency,” he said. “And antisemitism delivers simplistic, false and dangerous narratives that have led to extremists perpetrating deadly violence against Jews.”

To increase awareness about antisemitism, outgoing White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice said that next year, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. will launch “the first U.S.-based Holocaust education research center.” She also said that the National Endowment for the Humanities will expand its investment in K-12 education on Jewish history and added that federal agencies have “committed to incorporating information about antisemitic bias and discrimination into their diversity, equity inclusion and accessibility training programs.”

Biden’s homeland security adviser, Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, said that to improve security at synagogues and Jewish institutions, the administration has increased funding to improve the physical security of those buildings and has asked Congress for additional resources. The Department of Homeland Security will also reach out to Jewish communities to “ensure they are receiving and utilizing all the training and resources that are available to them,” she said.

In an effort to stop antisemitism from becoming mainstream, Sherwood-Randall said that the White House plan calls on tech companies to establish a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech on their platforms and to ensure that their algorithms do not pass along hate speech and extreme content to users.

Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, called the plan a “historic moment in the modern fight against what’s known as the world’s oldest hatred.” She noted that they were introducing the strategy in the same building that once housed the State and War departments and “a form of Jew-hatred took shape as official policy as State Department officials erected so-called paper walls around this country to prevent us from entering our borders.”

Under the plan, the FBI and National Counterterrorism Center will conduct an annual threat assessment “on antisemitic drivers of transnational violent extremism that can be shared with technology companies and other nongovernmental partners,” said the White House, which released a declassified version of its first assessment on Thursday.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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