Remarks by the Second Gentleman Prior to a Discussion with Jewish Community Leaders

October 11, 2023

[As prepared for delivery.]

SECOND GENTLEMAN DOUGLAS EMHOFF: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today.

The vice president and I are outraged at these horrific terrorist attacks in Israel, perpetrated by Hamas.

We are outraged. And with our broken hearts, we are sending our love, our strength, and our unwavering support to the people of Israel.

I am honored to be with you all today— as an American, as a patriot who loves his country, and as a Jew.

Like all Jews, I feel a deep, visceral connection to Israel and its people.

We witnessed a mass murder of innocent civilians. It was a terrorist assault.

And there is never any justification for terrorism. There are no two sides to this issue.

The images that we saw will be seared in our brains forever.

Rockets falling on cities. People dragged from their homes and shot dead. Children sheltering from bullets. Bodies lining streets. And all the while, we see videos of these terrorists cheering on their atrocities.

The toll on Israel and the Jewish community is unfathomable.

I know many of you have sent texts and calls this weekend checking in on loved ones. And I know too many of you received heartbreaking replies.

And we know today that at least 22 Americans won't be coming home.

I know you are hurting. The entire Jewish community is hurting. I'm hurting.

We grieve with you, and we stand with you.

But thank God we have the steady leadership of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris during this unthinkable time in our history. Their moral compass, calm, and empathy are what we need in this time of crisis.

And we saw that yesterday, when President Biden, with Vice President Harris and Secretary Blinken by his side, powerfully addressed the nation and made clear to the world that Israel has the United States' unwavering support.

Our president and vice president are making sure Israel has what it needs to defend itself.

We are grateful for their leadership and support for Israel at this exceptionally difficult time.

We also need to acknowledge and address how these events will impact all of us as Jews. I know many of us feel a deep fear that these attacks will, and unfortunately already have, led to a rise in hate and antisemitism.

That's why this discussion and the work your organizations are doing is so important.

Almost a year ago, I sat in this very room – many of you were there with me.

We called attention to the epidemic of hate we're facing.

Following that meeting, we took action.

In May, the Biden-Harris Administration released the first-ever National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. The plan includes over 100 meaningful actions we are taking to fight back against antisemitism and hate.

Each of you played a critical role in crafting this strategy. Thank you for the work that you have done and are continuing to do.

As we will discuss later, myself and Biden-Harris Administration officials are working with federal, state, and local leaders to implement this plan across the country.

We will continue to bring people together and build coalitions to fight back against this epidemic of hate.

The story of the Jewish people has always been one of perseverance and resilience.

In dark times, we come together, we fight back, and we seek to build a better world.

Last year, before my trip to Poland and Germany, President Biden took me into the Oval Office. He told me how his father had taught him about the horrors of the Holocaust and how he later traveled to Dachau with his children and grandchildren to teach them the same.

I know firsthand how important it is to President Biden to preserve our Jewish history and make sure hate has no safe harbor in America.

As an American Jew, I am so grateful that in this moment of tumult and pain we have Joe Biden as president and Kamala Harris as vice president.

It is now my honor to introduce a true advocate for the Jewish community. Please join me in welcoming President Joe Biden.

Doug Emhoff, Remarks by the Second Gentleman Prior to a Discussion with Jewish Community Leaders Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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