Joe Biden on Monday promised he will not remain silent in the face of growing anti-Semitism in the United States, as the president hosted a White House reception celebrating Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights.
“I recognize your fear, your hurt, your worry that this vile and venom is becoming too normal,” Biden said as he stood next to a menorah, a traditional Jewish candelabra, lit by guests to mark the second of the festival’s eight nights.
“Silence is complicity,” said the president. “We must not remain silent… I will not be silent. America will not be silent.”
Among the guests were Holocaust survivor Bronia Brandman, and Charlie Cytron-Walker, the rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas that was the scene of a hostage-taking in January.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the United States experienced a record 2,717 anti-Semitic acts such as assaults, verbal attacks and property damage in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 34 percent.
In its own report, the American Jewish Committee, one of the country’s oldest Jewish advocacy organizations, said that 39 percent of US Jews acknowledged they had “changed their behavior, limiting their activities and concealing their Jewishness due to concerns about anti-Semitism,” while about one in four had themselves been a victim of anti-Semitism over the past year.
Experts have voiced concern they are witnessing a trivialization of anti-Jewish rhetoric, highlighted by public figures including the rapper Kanye West, who recently blurted out “I like Hitler” during an online interview with a conspiracy theorist.
For his part, former president Donald Trump sparked a wave of outrage for dining with a known white supremacist and Holocaust denier last month at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida.