Dec 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Bipartisan coalition pushes for national strategy on antisemitism

U.S. President Joe Biden walks on the South Lawn to board Marine One at the White House in Washington, D.C.

President Biden walks on the South Lawn to board Marine One at the White House. Photo: Ting Shen/Xinhua via Getty Images.

A wide-ranging group across both parties and both chambers of Congress, led by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-N.V.), is calling on President Biden to develop a unified national strategy to combat antisemitism.

Why it matters: It comes on the heels of a barrage of antisemitic comments from rapper Ye, and former President Trump dining last month with white nationalist Nick Fuentes.

What we're watching: "Combating a growing threat of this magnitude ... requires a strategic, whole-of-government approach," the group — led by Rosen and other co-chairs of the House and Senate task forces for combating antisemitism — wrote in a letter addressed to Biden.

  • The group of more than 100 members of Congress is calling for closer interagency cooperation to share best practices, data, and intelligence, and to identify gaps in efforts to address antisemitism.
  • Co-signers include Republicans like Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) — and House Republicans such as Don Bacon (R-Neb.) and Maria Salazar (R-Fla.).

The group urges greater cooperation between agencies including the Department of Homeland Security, DOJ, FBI, the Department of Education and the State Department, including the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism.

  • "Interagency coordination also could benefit from considering a broadly understood definition of antisemitism, as several agencies have adopted or recognized individually," the letter says.

The big picture: The Jewish community in the U.S. has been bombarded with a series of high-profile attacks disseminated widely across social media, which have been followed by equally offensive posters and banners in public spaces.

  • It came to a head last week when Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, was suspended from Twitter after posting an image of a swastika depicted inside a Star of David.
  • The FBI issued a statewide warning of threats to New Jersey synagogues just three weeks ago.

The details: Last week, administration officials across the White House, State Department, DOJ, and DHS met with several Democratic members of Congress to discuss solutions.

  • Also present were representatives from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, Anti-Defamation League, and the American Jewish Committee.

What they're saying: Both Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and FBI Director Chris Wray told Rosen in a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing last month that they support a national strategy to combat antisemitism.

  • “The last couple of months has been incredibly intense and disconcerting. There is a need for a national strategy. We’ve been asking for this for a long time," said Holly Huffnagle, U.S. Director for Combating Antisemitism at the American Jewish Committee (AJC).
  • "Antisemitism is really a root cause of so many conspiracy theories and hatred, so fighting it is not just about people in the Jewish community."

What's next: Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff will host a roundtable with Jewish leaders and White House officials to discuss efforts to address antisemitism.

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