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Biden, Mayorkas, pledge to fight antisemitism as they celebrate Jewish heritage

President Biden denounced the recent spate of antisemitism as “despicable, unconscionable,” and “un-American” on Friday and said he would “not allow our fellow Americans to be intimidated or attacked because of who they are or the faith they practice.”

In a statement released by the White House, Biden recounted several recent incidents: “a brick thrown through the window of a Jewish-owned business in Manhattan, a swastika carved into the door of a synagogue in Salt Lake City, families threatened outside a restaurant in Los Angeles, and museums in Florida and Alaska, dedicated to celebrating Jewish life and culture and remembering the Holocaust, vandalized with anti-Jewish messages.”

These are among 222 antisemitic incidents the Anti-Defamation League has counted over the two weeks of Israel’s latest violence battle with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, a 75% increase from the 127 it saw the two weeks before.

“We cannot allow the toxic combination of hatred, dangerous lies, and conspiracy theories to put our fellow Americans at risk,” Biden said, noting that the Department of Justice had announced on Thursday a renewed focus on combating hate crimes. “In recent days, we have seen that no community is immune. We must all stand together to silence these terrible and terrifying echoes of the worst chapters in world history, and pledge to give hate no safe harbor.”

Biden noted that May is Jewish American Heritage Month, the subject of a virtual White House event earlier on Friday in which Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of homeland security, addressed American Jews in the first-ever such acknowledgement of the month.

“I want to assure the Jewish American community that I am committed to strengthening the safety and security of our community, and of all communities that suffer from the rise in hate,” said Mayorkas, who is Jewish.

Mayorkas mentioned that his mother fled Romania for Cuba amid Nazi persecution in the early 1940s and lost many family members during the Holocaust, saying it was his mission to “bring honor” to his mother in his current position.

“I grew up with a profound understanding of the fragility of the safety and security of the Jewish people,” he said. “I feel privileged to be in a position where I can strengthen the safety and security of our and so many communities.”


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