Biden’s Blunder? A ‘Strategy’ Against Antisemitism that Disappoints and Divides

Biden’s Blunder? A ‘Strategy’ Against Antisemitism that Disappoints and Divides

Biden's Antisemitism Strategy: Incoherence Wrapped in Diplomatic Jargon or Just Pandering to the Radical Left?

Michelle Rosenberg
Michelle Rosenberg
May 29, 2023

The White House on Thursday introduced a comprehensive 60-page strategy aimed at countering the rising tide of antisemitism sweeping across the United States. However, some Jewish and anti-hate groups are voicing concerns, suggesting the strategy fails to adequately address the issues at hand.

The Biden administration’s strategy comes in the wake of a disconcerting increase in hate crimes, with American Jews being disproportionately affected. This surge in hate crimes forms a significant part of the rationale behind the federal initiative to combat antisemitism.

The strategy pivots on four key pillars. These include enhancing awareness and understanding of antisemitism and its implications for American society, fostering a broader appreciation of Jewish American heritage, improving safety and security for Jewish communities, countering the normalization of antisemitism and discrimination, and fostering cross-community solidarity to counter hate.

However, the administration’s definition of antisemitism has sparked controversy. Some groups argue that the White House’s understanding of the term is diluted, failing to acknowledge that it’s antisemitic to oppose Israel’s existence or to hold the Jewish state to different standards than other countries.

The White House strategy does not solely employ the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, a definition preferred by numerous mainstream Jewish organizations. Instead, the document deems several definitions of antisemitism as “valuable”.

The strategy states, “The most prominent is the non-legally binding ‘working definition’ of antisemitism adopted in 2016 by the 31-member states of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which the United States has embraced,”.

The document further recognizes other efforts, mentioning the Nexus Document which claims that opposition to Zionism isn’t necessarily antisemitic. The Zionist Organization of America has criticized this view, arguing that it fails to appreciate the importance of the connection many Jews have to their ancestral and religious homeland as a core part of their Jewish identity.

Former UN Ambassador and South Carolina Governor, and current Presidential hopeful, Nikki Haley, has added her voice to the mix. Known for her staunch support of Israel, Haley has been a critic of what she views as the Biden administration’s lackluster support for the Jewish state.

On Twitter, Haley posted a critical response to the White House’s plan: “Joe Biden is pandering to the radical Left and siding with Israel’s enemies. It’s shameful. Anti-Semitism is not hard to define if you’re serious about stopping it.”

Haley’s tweet underscores her contention that the strategy’s diluted definition of antisemitism is a result of the Biden administration pandering to the radical Left at the expense of Israel. In her view, a firm, clear, and unambiguous definition of antisemitism is fundamental to any serious effort to confront and eradicate it.

Haley’s criticisms echo those of other detractors who believe that the Biden administration has missed an opportunity to take a more definitive stance against antisemitism. It remains to be seen how these concerns will be addressed as the implementation of the strategy moves forward.

StopAntisemitism, an anti-hate watchdog group, has also voiced concerns over the strategy. The group’s executive director, Liora Rez, asserts that the acceptance of multiple definitions contradicts the plan’s own assertion that acknowledging and identifying a problem is the first step toward resolving it.

Matt Brooks, CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition, expressed disappointment with the strategy, stating that Biden missed an opportunity to take a strong stand against antisemitism. Brooks underscored the importance of the IHRA definition, which is endorsed by all mainstream Jewish organizations and recognizes that criticism of Israel becomes antisemitic when it delegitimizes, demonizes, or applies double standards to Israel.

Despite the criticisms, some have applauded the administration’s efforts. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of global social action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, commended the White House’s initiative but emphasized the importance of a unified definition of antisemitism for accountability purposes.

Cooper also pointed out that a significant portion of antisemitic hate specifically targets genocidal and murderous rhetoric and acts against the democratic Jewish state of Israel, the home of the world’s largest Jewish community.

In response to the criticisms, White House Deputy Director of Communications Herbie Ziskend stated, “President Biden’s comprehensive National Strategy to counter antisemitism reaffirms the United States’ unshakable commitment to Israel’s right to exist, its legitimacy, and its security—and makes clear that when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred, that is anti-Semitism. And that is unacceptable.”

Michelle Rosenberg

Michelle Rosenberg

Michelle Rosenberg is a proud holder of a Master's degree in Global Affairs with a concentration in Globalization and Security, as well as a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, both from Florida International University. Michelle's academic pursuits illustrate her commitment to understanding the complex dimensions of international relations and global dynamics. When she's not diving into the intricacies of global affairs, she cherishes time with her three beloved daughters and relishes exploring new places with her family

Subscribe to the newsletter everyone in Florida is reading.

[ifform list="4209"]
%d bloggers like this: