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Ahead of 2024, senior Democrats rally top Jewish activists

House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries vowed to ‘crush’ antisemitism in the US

Senior Democrats rallied top Jewish supporters on Tuesday as the presidential campaign kicks into high gear. 

Speaking at a dinner hosted by the Jewish Democratic Council of America’s leadership in Washington, D.C., Douglas Emhoff, the Jewish husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, thanked the group’s board for leading the fight against antisemitism and standing up for America’s democracy.

The group, convening a two-day gathering to discuss strategy and legislative priorities ahead of the 2024 elections, also heard from House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was honored with its “defender of democracy” award. 

Emhoff, who often speaks out against antisemitism on behalf of the Biden administration, described the 2024 election as “the most important election of our lifetime,” and condemned as “foolishness” Republicans’ failure to curtail gun violence and efforts to ban abortion. 

Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff on May 23, 2023 Photo by Jacob Kornbluh

Rep. Kathy Manning of North Carolina, the co-chair of the House bipartisan task force for combating antisemitism, introduced Emhoff, calling him “the Queen Esther of our time.” 

The White House is expected to unveil the first-ever national plan to counter anti-Jewish bigotry later this week. Emhoff in recent months played a key role in formulating the plan. Emhoff told the crowd that President Joe Biden “has been doing a lot of work with us behind the scenes on the plan.” 

At a reception following a board meeting, Jeffries said, “Our pledge as House Democrats is to make sure that we stand up, speak up and show up until we crush antisemitism in the United States,” Jeffries is one of eight co-sponsors of a bipartisan resolution recognizing Jewish American Heritage Month. It highlights “the rich history of Jewish people in the United States” and calls out antisemitism.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on May 23, 2023. Photo by Jacob Kornbluh

The strong words come a month after Jeffries faced backlash for a report that as a college student in the 1990s, he defended Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, known for his antisemitic vitriol, and his uncle, Leonard Jeffries, a professor who had made antisemitic comments. House Democrats and Democratic Jews defended Jeffries, who said he does not share the controversial views espoused by his uncle over 30 years ago.

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