President Joe Biden creates task force to combat antisemitism

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President Joe Biden on Monday created a counter antisemitism task force to combat growing incidents of hate directed toward the Jewish community. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 13 (UPI) — President Joe Biden has formed a counter antisemitism task force to coordinate government efforts to stamp out discrimination amid a surge in related rhetoric and violence nationwide.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre unveiled the task force Monday in a statement, saying it will be led by staff of both the domestic policy and national security councils.

The interagency group will work to counter not only antisemitism, but also Islamophobia and related forms of bias and discrimination, she said.

“The president has tasked the interagency group, as its first order of business, to develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism,” she said.

“This strategy will raise understanding about antisemitism and the threat it poses to the Jewish community and all Americans, address antisemitic harassment and abuse both online and offline, seek to prevent antisemitic attacks and incidents and encourage whole-of-society efforts to counter antisemitism and build a more inclusive nation.”

The announcement was made amid growing concerns about antisemitism nationwide as several high-profile public figures, including former President Donald Trump and rapper Ye, have spread or been associating with those known to spread anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and rhetoric.

In response to the instances, 126 Senate and House lawmakers sent the president a letter dated Dec. 5 urging him to form a stronger, whole-of-government effort to confront the growing threat posed by antisemitism.

“Antisemitic voices, inciting hateful and violent action, are finding new audiences, with anti-Jewish conspiracies gaining traction across the globe and through social media,” the lawmakers said. “In the United states, the evidence of rising antisemitism is clear and alarming.”

The increase in such rhetoric and acts of violence have been on the rise for at least the past few years, with the FBI reporting a 12-year-high in antisemitic hate crimes committed in 2020.

For last year, the Anti-Defamation League reported a record 2,717 antisemitic incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism, representing a 34% increase on-year.

Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada, who led the bipartisan group that sent the letter to the president, said Monday she applauds the interagency group’s creation.

“The steps announced today will go a long way toward improving the United States’ ability to combat antisemitism, helping to keep communities safe and eradicate hate,” she said in a statement.

The American Jewish Committee similarly thanked Biden for the task force’s creation while offering its assistance to develop the national strategy to combat antisemitism.

“A whole-of-government approach is essential so government agencies can quickly and effectively combat the world’s oldest hatred as it morphs into contemporary forms,” AJC chief executive Ted Deutch said in a statement.

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