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White House unveils national plan to combat antisemitism

The proposal comes days after a man with a Nazi flag crashed a truck into barriers near the White House.

WASHINGTON (CN) — President Joe Biden is directing federal law enforcement to better monitor antisemitism, urging social media companies to combat hate speech and expanding educational opportunities as part of a national strategy for combating antisemitism.

The plan was revealed on Thursday, three days after a Missouri man with a Nazi flag crashed a truck into barriers near the White House.

“We must say clearly and forcefully that antisemitism and all forms of hate and violence have no place in America,” Biden said in prerecorded remarks. “Silence is complicity.”

The White House said the country has experienced an “alarming increase” in antisemitic incidents, including high-profile mass shootings at synagogues in Pittsburgh in 2018 and California in 2019. The announcement also highlighted the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, when white supremacists chanted “Jews will not replace us.”

American Jews account for 2.4% of the U.S. population, but they are the victims of 63% of reported religiously motivated hate crimes, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“Right now, antisemitic hate crimes in the United States are occurring at the highest rates on record,” said second gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish. “Antisemitism is a threat to Jewish communities and all Americans and it can only be combated with united efforts.”

The plan is broken into four pillars: increasing awareness and understanding of antisemitism and appreciation of Jewish American heritage; improving safety and security; countering discrimination; and building solidarity.

To expand educational opportunities, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will launch a Holocaust education research center next year. The initiative also includes an antisemitism awareness campaign in schools.

"Antisemitism has no place in our society, and I am proud that the Department will continue to use all available tools to prevent and address antisemitic discrimination in our nation’s schools," U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a press release. "No student should have to face discrimination or harassment because of their race, color, national origin, shared ancestry, such as Jewish ancestry, or ethnic characteristics."

Federal agencies will incorporate information about antisemitic bias and religious accommodations into their training programs. 

The Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice will hold workshops and community engagement meetings about combating hate-motivated violence. The FBI’s National Counterterrorism Center also will conduct an annual threat assessment on violent extremism.

The White House also called on Congress to pass legislation holding social media platforms accountable for the spread of hate-inspired violence while urging those companies to take independent actions to counter antisemitism.

The measure was applauded by Jewish organizations commending the White House for the policy.

“I know that the Jewish community is personally important to President Biden – and that it has been throughout his life of public service,” Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, said in a press release. “I want to thank him for bringing ‘the Delaware Way’ to Washington and for renewing his commitment to the Jewish people at home and abroad. Now, the real work begins.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, called the plan a “significant, comprehensive strategy.”

“It’s particularly notable that this approach recognizes that antisemitism is not about politics – it’s about principles,” he said in a press release. “We are pleased that this strategy comprehensively addresses hate and antisemitism on campus, online, and from extremists on both the far-right and the far-left.”

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