The statements from the White House come as attacks on Jewish people have been on the rise with a staggering surge over the past week, prompted by the escalation of deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Even with a ceasefire late last week, tensions have continued around the world, reverberating in the U.S. through the rise in public antisemitic attacks against Jews.
Authorities are presently investigating hate crimes that have occurred in Los Angeles, New York City and other major cities across the globe.
“The recent attacks on the Jewish community are despicable, and they must stop,” President Biden tweeted on Monday. “I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad — it’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.”
Vice President Harris took to Twitter to post, “The surge in anti-Semitic attacks against the Jewish community in the U.S. and around the world is despicable — it must be called out, condemned and stopped. As a country, we must stand united against hate of any kind.”
Harris is married to Doug Emhoff, the first-ever Second Gentleman in American history and the first Jewish spouse of a Vice President. Since Biden and Harris were elected, the vice president and her husband have brought Jewish culture onto the world’s stage, such as publicly celebrating Hanukkah, shortly after the election.
Roughly one week ago, an assault occurred at a Los Angeles sushi restaurant, resulting in the arrest of one man, who has been booked for assault with a deadly weapon. The LAPD is still working to identify and arrest the other suspects who are connected to the crime. The attack occurred when a caravan of allegedly 30 people, appearing to be pro-Palestinian protestors, began to throw glass bottles at Jewish diners and shout anti-Jewish slurs from the cars, which then escalated to physical violence.
After the L.A. attack, Hollywood began to use its megaphone to speak out against antisemitism with “The Big Bang Theory” star Mayim Bialik, “Will & Grace” star Debra Messing, comedian Michael Rapaport and “The View’s” Meghan McCain being some of the most vocal stars to stand up for the Jewish community.
As the attacks have grown in numbers around the world, more celebrities have utilized their voice, though more slowly than other social justice movements. An Instagram campaign launched last Friday where social media users would post a blue square to stand in solidarity with Jewish people. Stars like Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Garner posted messages calling to stop hate crimes against Jews, while A-listers like Kim Kardashian, Hailey Bieber and Demi Lovato posted to urge for peace in the Middle East.
In New York City, numerous attacks have publicly taken place in Times Square and the diamond district in midtown Manhattan. Over the weekend, two hate-related incidents occurred in Brooklyn. Last week, a man was charged for arson, after allegedly trying to set a Brooklyn synagogue and Jewish school on fire. In response, the NYPD has stepped up its presence among the city’s Jewish communities.
Politicians including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, California Governor Gavin Newsom, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti have all condemned the attacks.
National news outlets like CNN, Fox News and ABC News began to cover the antisemitic attacks more prominently over the weekend weekend, as violent hate crimes continued to take place across the U.S., and in Britain, Germany and France, which has the largest Jewish and Muslim populations in Europe.
Prior to Biden and Harris releasing statements, five prominent American Jewish organizations — the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Orthodox Union and Hadassah — urged the administration to speak out against antisemitism last week, as the string of attacks were being reported. In a letter, the groups asked the White House to “speak out forcefully against this dangerous trend and stand alongside the Jewish community in the face of this wave of hate before it gets any worse.”
On Monday afternoon, actor Jon Voight — a staunch Trump reporter and outspoken Republican — posted a video on his social media accounts condemning the rise of antisemitism and pointing a finger at his followers that he described as “liberal non-thinkers.”
“What’s wrong with everyone?” Voight said, as part of his nearly two-minute video. “Can’t you see this horror, the horror, attacking Jews. I’m sick and tired of you followers, you liberal non-thinkers who only follow and bash and don’t see what the truths are. The Jews have been attacked for centuries, Hitler took down millions of innocent Jews and babies and put them in gas chambers. What is wrong with you all? How dare you attack the righteous souls of God’s highest truths, in our own streets of Beverly Hills.”
Last week, the ADL reported an increase in antisemitic social media rhetoric, finding that 17,000 tweets for one week in mid-May included variations of the words, “Hitler was right.”
Actor and anti-Trump comedian Sacha Baron Cohen took to Twitter this weekend to blast the social media platform for not taking action against antisemitic activity.
“The surge in antisemitism on the streets is fueled by antisemitism on social media,” Cohen tweeted directly at Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey. “Why do you allow #HitlerWasRight?! Those who celebrate the Holocaust aim to perpetuate another.”
Actor Josh Gad — one of Hollywood’s most vocal proponents for many social justice causes — also spoke out about the lack of public support for Jewish people, in comparison to other groups subjected to hate.
“It never stops breaking my heart how easily antisemitism comes to so many. And how difficult it seemingly is for people to speak out against it,” Gad tweeted. “I will stand up against bigotry of all kind from Islamaphobia to racism. Wish others would do the same when it comes to anti-Semitism.”