Remarks by the Second Gentleman at the Launch of the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism

May 25, 2023

[As Prepared for Delivery.]


I want to thank President Biden, and my wife, Vice President Harris the comprehensive actions that they are taking to confront antisemitism, bigotry, and hate in all its forms. That is true leadership.

Right now, antisemitic hate crimes in the United States are occurring at the highest rates on record.

Hate crimes against Jews account for 63 percent of all religiously motivated hate crimes in the United States, even though we make up just over two percent of the overall population.

At its core, antisemitism divides us, erodes our trust in government, institutions, and one another. It threatens our democracy while undermining our American values of freedom, community, and decency.

Antisemitism delivers simplistic, false, and dangerous narratives that have led to extremists perpetrating deadly violence against Jews.

I know the fear, the pain, the anger that Jews are living with because of this epidemic of hate.

We've all heard the stories. And we know what they are:

The students who've had Swastikas drawn on their desks at school.

The parents who faced slurs and obscenities as they dropped their toddlers off at preschool.

The murder of eleven human beings at the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh.

No one should have to live in fear because of who they are.

And as the first Jewish spouse of a United States President or Vice President, let me say this: we cannot stay silent. I will not remain silent. I will not stand idly by and allow antisemitism to poison our society.

Last December, I hosted a roundtable at the White House with Jewish community leaders to discuss the rise of antisemitism across our nation and what we can do to counteract it.

A few days later, President Biden established an all-of-government group to combat hate and develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism.

Then, in January, I traveled to Poland with Ambassador Lipstadt to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We also traveled to Germany to meet with special envoys from across Europe to learn about their plans to safeguard Jewish heritage and combat hatred of Jews.

The trip was also personal to me. My great grandparents escaped persecution from what is now Poland around 120 years ago. I got to see the home of where my family once resided before fleeing to the United States.

And while they were lucky to escape, there were so many others who weren't.

My work continued after that trip. I spoke at the United Nations about the scourge of antisemitism.

I hosted conversations with many different groups: college students, interfaith leaders, executives in the sports and entertainment industries, and members of Congress. I also convened special envoys from European countries here at the White House.

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

But now more than ever, we must rise to the challenge, and meet this moment.

Today, I am proud to join my colleagues: Ambassador Susan Rice, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, and Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall to release the National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.

The strategy is rooted in President Biden and Vice President Harris's agenda to fight hate more broadly, strengthen our democracy, and protect religious freedom.

President Biden, Vice President Harris, and our entire administration are taking bold action to fight antisemitism and foster Jewish life.

The interagency group has mobilized more than two dozen federal agencies and conducted listening sessions with more than 1,000 Jewish leaders, faith leaders, and civil rights leaders.

Through a whole-of-society approach, we will build coalitions and work with key partners – Congress, state and local governments, civil society, schools and academic institutions, the private sector, and diverse religious communities – to prevent and combat antisemitism at every level of society.

In sum, this plan will save lives.

Our work to counter antisemitism will not stop with the release of this national strategy. We are dedicated to its implementation.

Antisemitism is a threat to Jewish communities and all Americans. And it can only be combated with united efforts.

We are committed to making sure that everyone can live openly, proudly, and safely in their own communities.

It is on all of us to put an end to the visceral hate that we are seeing across our nation. We cannot normalize this.

Lastly, we must not forget the joy that comes from celebrating our faith, celebrating our cultures, and celebrating our contributions to this great nation. There is more that unites us than divides us.

With that, I will turn it over to my good friend, Ambassador Rice.

Ambassador: thank you for all the work that you have done throughout your time in this administration – especially in these last few months –for your work on this plan, which is meaningful to me, and Jews across the world. Thank you for your service.

Doug Emhoff, Remarks by the Second Gentleman at the Launch of the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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