Remarks by the Second Gentleman at a Roundtable on Combatting Antisemitism in in Krakow, Poland

January 28, 2023

[As Prepared for Delivery.]

Thank you all for being here.

Thank you to the Galicia Jewish Museum for hosting us and to Director Jakub Nowakowski.

It's really fitting to gather here today. The Museum aims to challenge stereotypes and to educate Poles and Jews about their own histories – my history.

The Museum also encourages everyone to think about our shared future.

My trip to Poland and Germany has two main priorities:

One: I am here not only to honor the victims of the Holocaust, but to talk about and educate people on the true nature of the Holocaust.

Let's be clear: the Holocaust was real.

It happened. And there is no denying that.

It was a systemic, state-sponsored mass murder aimed to annihilate the Jewish people. This atrocity was motivated by antisemitic ideology and ethnic hatred.

This trip is a major part of our Administration's effort to push back against Holocaust denial, distortion, and disinformation.

Two: I am here as a representative of President Biden and my wife, Vice President Harris, to deepen our relationships with European partners — in and out of government — to combat the rise in antisemitism.

The President and Vice President have made a priority of revitalizing our partnerships and alliances—and that extends to fighting hate and antisemitism.

Yesterday, I visited Auschwitz and participated in the wreath laying and memorial service. The service was incredibly moving and powerful.

I am still trying to process what I saw.

The magnitude of cruelty, hate, and evil that Auschwitz represents is just staggering.

As the first Jewish spouse of a United States President or Vice President, I know this visit has a special significance — for me, for our Administration, and for Jews around the world.

My great-grandparents fled persecution in Poland 120 years ago. I am here because they were able to leave.

Yet, so many others were not.

I feel a deep connection to all those who perished in Auschwitz. I know many American Jews feel the same way.

It was an incredibly solemn and sad experience but, it also reminds us why the work we are doing is so important.

Given the rise in antisemitism, it is important for me — and for all of us — to put a spotlight on the history of Jews in Europe.

We know that in some cases knowledge about the Holocaust among young people is vague or nonexistent.

We must find new ways to remember and educate the next generation about the horrors of the Holocaust.

To tell the testimonies of survivors.

To remember the stories of those that perished.

And work to ensure "Never Again."

This convening is a critical part of that.

Antisemitism has been around for centuries. It is based on lies, misleading tropes, and falsehoods that we are all too familiar with.

Antisemitism is also ever evolving. Our efforts to combat it must be wide-ranging and relentless.

We must learn to recognize antisemitism in its many forms, so that we can call hate by its proper name and take effective action.

Antisemitism has been around for millennia—and some call it the oldest form of hatred—but in recent years, it has been a growing threat in the United States, in Europe, and around the world.

We see 'so-called' leaders use antisemitic tropes to promote warped agendas or for their own political gain.

We see other 'so-called' leaders who lack the courage to speak out.

We see murderous attacks on Jewish communities.

We see vandalism, threats, and violent, hateful rhetoric.

People used to be afraid to say the ugly epithets and lies out loud. Now they are literally screaming them.

We are witnessing an epidemic of hate in our country and internationally.

President Biden and Vice President Harris are firmly committed to countering the rise in global antisemitism.

In fact, before I left on this trip, I spoke to President Biden and the Vice President about it.

The President spoke to me about how his father spoke to him about the horrors of the Holocaust at his dining room table.

And how when he became a father and grandfather, he took his children and grandchildren to see the Dachau concentration camp.

To teach the next generation the horrors of history.

The Vice President and I have spoken at length about these issues. She has spent her career—as Attorney General, United States Senator, and Vice President—combatting hate and working to bring people together in coalitions.

And she has really encouraged me to use this platform to push back on the scourge of hate.

They both have told me how important this trip is.

We all need to speak out against antisemitism and call out those who don't.

We cannot normalize this. We must not stay silent.

We each need to do our part to educate those around us and instill knowledge in the next generation of leaders to help fight antisemitism.

And we are committed to working with you all – community leaders, religious leaders, and experts to take this on.

You all have done impressive work to promote tolerance, education, and inclusiveness.

I am with you in this fight.

So, on behalf of President Biden and Vice President Harris, it is my honor to join you here in Krakow today, and I am looking forward to our work together.

Thank you.

Doug Emhoff, Remarks by the Second Gentleman at a Roundtable on Combatting Antisemitism in in Krakow, Poland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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