Biden warns of ‘resurgence of antisemitism’ in Holocaust commemoration

US president says recent hostage standoff incident at Texas synagogue is a reminder ‘that hate doesn’t go away; it only hides’; VP, second gentleman meet with Holocaust survivor

US President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with private sector CEOs in the State Dining Room of the White House on January 26, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via AFP)
US President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with private sector CEOs in the State Dining Room of the White House on January 26, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images via AFP)

Marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, US President Joe Biden on Thursday decried continued manifestations of antisemitism and hatred in the United States, including at a synagogue hostage standoff earlier this month.

“From the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, to a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, we are continually and painfully reminded that hate doesn’t go away; it only hides. And it falls to each of us to speak out against the resurgence of antisemitism and ensure that bigotry and hate receive no safe harbor, at home and around the world,” he said in a statement from the White House.

Biden called for better education to counter efforts to distort and deny the Holocaust, noting an Israel-led resolution on the matter that was approved by the UN General Assembly last week.

“We must teach accurately about the Holocaust and push back against attempts to ignore, deny, distort, and revise history — as we did this month, when the United States co-sponsored a UN resolution that charged the international community with combating Holocaust denial through education,” he said.

“We must continue to pursue justice for survivors and their families. And we must ensure that aging survivors have access to the services they need to live out their lives in dignity,” he added.

The US president said he would host Holocaust survivor Bronia Brandman in the Oval Office later on Thursday.

“A survivor of Auschwitz who lost her parents and four of five siblings, she could not speak of her experiences for half a century. Today, she’ll share her story at the White House — and speak for millions who never got the chance,” he said.

Holocaust survivor Bronia Brandman talks at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York, Jan. 22, 2020. (AP/Jessie Wardarski)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is Jewish and the stepson of a Holocaust survivor, also issued a message for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In a video statement, Blinken cited his own family’s past and that of other State Department officials who had ancestors in the Holocaust.

“We see rising antisemitism and Holocaust distortion and denial around the world. History tells us these acts are often the canary in the coalmine,” he said. “In moments like this, it becomes ever more important that we all remain vigilant against efforts to rewrite history, and protect the facts of the Holocaust.”

US Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff also marked the day, meeting with Holocaust survivor Ruth Cohen to hear her story and “bear witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust,” a White House official said in a statement.

Cohen was born in Mukachevo, Czechoslovakia in 1930 and was later imprisoned in multiple Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz. Her mother, brother, cousins and other loved ones were murdered during the Holocaust.

“During the meeting, the vice president discussed the president’s and her commitment to combatting antisemitism and hatred wherever it exists. The vice president also discussed the importance of staying vigilant and teaching our children the truth about the horrors of the Holocaust,” the White House official said.

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