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As Biden announces reelection bid, Republican Jewish Coalition calls him complicit in rising antisemitism

Just as swiftly, other Jewish leaders called out the attack against the president as hypocritical

An hour after Joe Biden announced his reelection bid Tuesday, the Republican Jewish Coalition assailed the president for rising antisemitism in the U.S. at his feet.

“Joe Biden has been derelict in his duty to keep Jewish Americans safe, kowtowing to the most radical elements of his party and legitimizing ascendent far left voices,” the RJC leadership said in a statement. “On Biden’s watch, antisemitic hate crimes have skyrocketed.” It also took aim at House Democrats, noting that all voted against a resolution removing Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her criticism of Israel and past comments that some perceived as antisemitic. 

The RJC referenced the Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit, which counted 3,697 antisemitic incidents last year, the highest number since it started tracking antisemitism in 1979 and a 36% increase from 2021. 

Just as swiftly, other Jewish leaders rejected the RJC accusations as untrue and hypocritical. 

Halie Soifer, chief executive of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, noted that the ADL report concluded that white supremacists have been driving the increase in antisemitic incidents, which include bomb threats, banner drops, flyering and other stunts. “They also know that Donald Trump, whom the RJC supported not once but twice, blatantly refused to condemn white supremacy and instead incited extremists to launch a violent insurrection,” Soifer said.

Abraham Foxman, the former longtime head of the Anti-Defamation League, said the RJC statement, which was titled the “case against Joe Biden in 2024” is “not only ridiculous but it politicizes antisemitism.” 

“They didn’t like it when Democrats blamed it on the Trump administration and now they are doing the same,” Foxman added. The ADL’s report on 2017, Trump’s first year in office, showed a 60% surge in antisemitic incidents. 

Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner, has come under fire even from his own Jewish supporters over his dinner in November with rapper Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, one of the country’s most prominent young white supremacists, and his refusal to condemn them. In recent months, Trump has assailed Jewish billionaire George Soros in a series of fundraising emails, accusing him of aiming to “single-handedly buy” President Joe Biden’s reelection. In one email, Trump called Soros “Biden’s puppet master,” a common antisemitic trope. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is seen as Trump’s most serious challenger in the Republican primary, has also been accused of failing to call out antisemitism and for “embracing antisemites” to boost his political career.

The Biden record

Biden has spoken out against antisemitism and white supremacy, directly and indirectly.

Biden launched his successful campaign for president in 2020 to “restore the soul of America,” referencing the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. Trump had upset many when he referred to the “very fine people on both sides” of that display of white supremacy.

In a pre-Passover op-ed published on CNN’s website, Biden reiterated his administration’s commitment to aggressively confront the rise in antisemitic rhetoric and physical attacks against Jews. “Rest assured that I am committed to the safety of the Jewish people,” Biden wrote. “Under my presidency, we continue to condemn antisemitism at every turn. Failure to call out hate is complicity.”

Biden recently announced that the White House plans to release a “comprehensive” strategy to combat antisemitism, following consultations with more than a thousand Jewish community stakeholders and faith leaders in the coming months.

In the video announcement he released Tuesday morning, Biden said the goal of his 2024 run remains the same. “We’re a nation where we give hate no safe harbor,” the president said, imploring his supporters, “Let’s finish this job.” 

Doug Emhoff, the second gentleman of the United States, told Jewish supporters in a virtual briefing on Tuesday that in his conversations with Biden, the president had told him several times that “one of the things that hit him so hard” about the events in Charlottesville were the white supremacists carrying tiki torches and the “Jews will not replace us” chants. “We’ve got unfinished business and this fight is far from over,” Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, said on the call, hosted by the Democratic National Committee. 

Emhoff, who is Jewish, noted that he’s spent much of his time in recent months as the administration’s official spokesperson “on the frontlines pushing back against antisemitism and hate.” He recently visited Poland and Germany to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. After an emotional visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp and sites made infamous by Nazi atrocities, Emhoff said he regretted not speaking up when witnessing antisemitism in his own past. 

Biden also nominated Deborah E. Lipstadt, one of the world’s most respected historians of the Holocaust, as the U.S. envoy to monitor and combat global antisemitism.

Foxman, who supported Biden in 2020, said he has been “the most outspoken” U.S. president in history in his condemnations of antisemitism. 

An exit poll conducted by J Street in 2020 showed Jewish voters supporting Biden over Trump 77% to 21%. An RJC-sponsored poll put Jewish support for Biden at 60%. “There’s nothing that has changed in the last two years that should make the Jewish community feel less supportive than they were the last go-round,” Foxman said.

This post was updated.

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