White House announces new inter-agency group to counter antisemitism

Biden administration heeds calls from Congress, Jewish groups who urged ‘whole of government’ approach to better coordinate combatting various forms of discrimination

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US President Joe Biden speaks during a Toys for Tots event at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia on December 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
US President Joe Biden speaks during a Toys for Tots event at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia on December 12, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The White House on Monday announced the establishment of an inter-agency committee aimed at combatting antisemitism, heeding calls from US lawmakers and leading American Jewish organizations who urged a “whole of government approach” to the intensifying phenomenon.

The decision came days after the White House hosted a round table meeting with executives from prominent Jewish groups who made the recommendation — the same one that was pushed by a bipartisan group of 125 House lawmakers in a letter to US President Joe Biden.

“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 said.

In a Monday statement, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Inter-Agency Group to Counter Antisemitism will be led by the White House’s Domestic Policy and National Security Councils, which will coordinate with community leaders, other government officials, Congress, and activists.

The panel’s first order of business will be to develop “a national strategy to counter antisemitism,” Jean-Pierre 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 White House statement said.

Doug Emhoff, center, the husband of US Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks during a roundtable discussion with Jewish leaders about the rise in antisemitism and efforts to fight hate in the United States in the Indian Treaty Room in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House Campus in Washington, December 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

It notably added that the new group will seek to better coordinate US government efforts to counter other types of discrimination, namely Islamophobia.

“We look forward to working with advocates, civil rights leaders, civil society, and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to continue countering the scourge of antisemitism,” Jean-Pierre added.

While Jewish groups have long called for more aggressive efforts to address antisemitism, the issue received national attention last month after former president Donald Trump hosted at his Mar-a-Lago resort Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and Kanye West, just weeks after the rapper lost a series of business deals over antisemitic posts he made on social media. Trump has refused to condemn the pair, who days after their dinner appeared on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s radio show, with West using the opportunity to repeatedly express his praise for Hitler and the Nazis. West proceeded to get suspended from Twitter after posting a picture that showed a swastika interlaced with a Star of David, just weeks after new owner Elon Musk allowed the rapper back on the platform. West had been suspended for posting antisemitic threats.

Most Popular
read more: