Remarks by the Second Gentleman at a Convening of Special Envoys and Coordinators on Antisemitism in Berlin, Germany

January 30, 2023

[As prepared for delivery.]

SECOND GENTLEMAN DOUGLAS EMHOFF: Commissioner Klein, thank you for hosting us. Thank you also to Ambassador Gutmann for being such a great representative of our country in Germany.

I also want to recognize Coordinator von Schnurbein and my friend and colleague, Ambassador Lipstadt. It's an honor to be here with all our esteemed guests. I know like me, many of you traveled from all over to be here.

Each of you is laying crucial groundwork for those who will come after you, and I am proud to be your partner in the fight to combat antisemitism.

I was in Poland last week to honor the victims of the Holocaust and to reflect on the history of Jews in Europe. I'm still processing what I saw.

We had a series of somber and solemn visits.

I participated in a memorial service and wreath laying at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

I toured the Jewish Quarter of Krakow.

I visited the town of Gorlice, where my family was from.

It is a difficult and of course sad history to reflect on.

We must always put a spotlight on this history, especially now, as we continue to see Holocaust denial, distortion, and disinformation.

But this trip isn't just about the past. This trip is also about the present and the future.

When my wife, Vice President Harris, was sworn into office, I assumed the position of the first Second Gentleman.

I never would have thought that working on the safety and security for Jewish Americans and Jews around the world would be my cause.

It became my cause because I saw this epidemic of hate we are facing and how harmful it is to our world.

We are living at a time when the global levels of antisemitism are higher than at any time since the Second World War.

We can't just speak out. This moment requires bold action.

In the United States, the highest levels of our government are working to counter this rise in antisemitism.

President Biden and Vice President Harris care deeply about combatting this hatred.

One of the reasons President Biden decided to run for President was to confront the kinds of hate and antisemitism we saw in Charlottesville – people with tiki torches chanting "Jews will not replace us."

Before I came on this trip, President Biden pulled me aside to tell me how important this trip was.

He spoke to me about how his father told to him about the horrors of the Holocaust at his dining room table. He told me when he became a father and grandfather, he took his children and grandchildren to see the Dachau concentration camp. He wanted to make sure he helped teach the next generation the horrors of history.

Throughout her career, the Vice President has also been a staunch ally in the fight against antisemitism and also a leading advocate for the rights of marginalized communities and a strong voice against hate. She encouraged me to take on this issue.

In office, President Biden and Vice President Harris have taken significant steps to address hate and the rising tide of antisemitism and violence in America.

Most recently, they created the first-ever interagency process for combatting antisemitism.

The first mandate is to create a U.S. National Action Plan on Antisemitism.

I know that many of you have worked on your own national action plans, and your efforts will help inform ours.

I want to assure all of you here that the United States is committed to deepen our work with our European partners to combat the rise in antisemitism.

That is why we have joined here today at this convening.

As we look ahead, I am encouraged that governments around the world are thinking critically about their responsibility to turn the tides of hate.

I am also encouraged by the acts of the public – everyday people who are speaking out against antisemitism. They are taking action to combat antisemitism in their own communities by building coalitions and advocating to their governments.

All of us need to speak out against antisemitism and call out those who don't. We cannot normalize this.

We cannot be silent. We cannot live in fear.

We can learn from each other. Our work today is about trading notes, sharing best practices, and determining next steps.

We are in this together.

Our countries are bonded by shared values – equality, diversity, and human rights.

This moment calls on us to take action, together, based on these values.

So, I look forward to hearing from each of you and how we can move forward together.

You are the experts. You know firsthand from the Jewish communities in your countries the greatest causes of concern.

Together, we can forge solutions.

Together, we can amplify one another's efforts, and lay the groundwork for future Special Envoys and Coordinators.

I am grateful to be here and for the opportunity to partner with all of you.

Thank you.

Doug Emhoff, Remarks by the Second Gentleman at a Convening of Special Envoys and Coordinators on Antisemitism in Berlin, Germany Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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