Spanberger Urges President Biden to Develop National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism

Dec 07, 2022
Press

The Congresswoman, Along with U.S. House and U.S. Senate Colleagues, Sent a Letter to President Biden Amid a Wave of Antisemitic Rhetoric and Violence

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger — a member of the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combatting Antisemitism — joined a bipartisan group of 126 U.S. House and U.S. Senate lawmakers in urging President Biden to create a unified national strategy to monitor and combat antisemitism.

Antisemitic hate crimes are becoming more widespread. In 2020, antisemitic hate crimes reached the highest rate in more than a decade — constituting 60 percent of all incidents based on religion — according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

In a letter to President Biden, the lawmakers urged the President to develop a stronger, whole-of-government effort to counter the growing danger of antisemitism. Additionally, the lawmakers warned that the rise in antisemitic violence threatens not only Jewish communities, but the security of other minority groups and the foundations of democracy itself.

“Antisemitic voices, inciting hateful and violent action, are finding new audiences, with anti-Jewish conspiracies gaining traction across the globe and through social media. In the United States, the evidence of rising antisemitism is clear and alarming,” wrote Spanberger and the bicameral group of lawmakers. “Jewish communal institutions and synagogues are increasingly targets of violent attacks, as evidenced by the violent and often deadly assaults on the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2018, Poway, California in 2019, Jersey City, New Jersey and Monsey, New York in 2019, and Colleyville, Texas in 2022.”

The lawmakers continued, “Because many individual agencies play a critical role in combating antisemitism, closer coordination is needed to share best practices, data, and intelligence; identify gaps in efforts; streamline overlapping activities and roles; and execute a unified national strategy.”

The letter is led by U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and James Lankford (R-OK), as well as U.S. Representatives Kathy Manning (D-NC-06) and Chris Smith (R-NJ-04) — co-chairs of the Senate and House Bipartisan Task Forces for Combating Antisemitism.

Click here to read the letter, and the full text is below.

Dear President Biden:

As members of the House and Senate Bipartisan Task Forces for Combating Antisemitism, we write to urge you to ensure leaders working within your Administration are working together to execute a unified national strategy to monitor and combat antisemitism. With Jewish communities worldwide facing increasing discrimination, as well as threats and acts violence, we believe a whole-of-government approach is needed to effectively address the scourge of antisemitism. History has taught us that attacks and conspiracy theories that target Jews not only threaten Jews, but frequently grow to threaten the security of other communities and the foundations of democracy.

Rising antisemitism puts Jews both in the United States and around the world at risk. Antisemitic voices, inciting hateful and violent action, are finding new audiences, with anti-Jewish conspiracies gaining traction across the globe and through social media. In the United States, the evidence of rising antisemitism is clear and alarming. The Federal Bureau of Investigation found that antisemitic hate crimes rose by six percent in 2020, representing the highest total in 12 years and constituting 60 percent of all incidents based on religion. Similarly, nonprofits focused on monitoring and combating antisemitism have also noted record-breaking highs in antisemitic incidents, with 2021 being the highest year on record – an increase of more than a third from 2020. Jewish communal institutions and synagogues are increasingly targets of violent attacks, as evidenced by the violent and often deadly assaults on the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2018, Poway, California in 2019, Jersey City, New Jersey and Monsey, New York in 2019, and Colleyville, Texas in 2022.

We welcome the measures the Administration has taken thus far to address antisemitism. However, combating a growing threat of this magnitude, particularly here at home, requires a strategic, whole-of-government approach. Interagency coordination also could benefit from considering a broadly understood definition of antisemitism, as several agencies have adopted or recognized individually. Because many individual agencies play a critical role in combating antisemitism, closer coordination is needed to share best practices, data, and intelligence; identify gaps in efforts; streamline overlapping activities and roles; and execute a unified national strategy. The strategic collaboration of such entities would also send a key message to the American people and the international community that the United States is committed to fighting antisemitism at the highest levels.

As such, we urge you to prioritize coordination among all agencies working in this space, including, but not limited to, officials from the Department of Homeland Security; the Department of Justice, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Department of Education, including the Office for Civil Rights; and the Department of State, including the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, the Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, and the Office of International Religious Freedom; in addition to representatives from the Intelligence Community; the Office of Management and Budget; the National Security Council; the Homeland Security Council; the Domestic Policy Council; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; in order to ensure all relevant entities within the Executive Branch and Congress are working in tandem. Creation of an interagency task force led by an official at the Assistant Secretary rank or higher is one way to accomplish such coordination.

Likewise, we request that agencies working collaboratively to combat antisemitism work with the leadership of the House and Senate Bipartisan Task Forces to Combat Antisemitism and key non-profit community stakeholders to develop a National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism. Doing so will provide a cohesive and comprehensive plan for interagency efforts in this critical space.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your response and continuing to work with you to combat antisemitism at home and abroad.

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