President Joe Biden unveiled a multifaceted and broad strategy to combat antisemitism in the United States that reaches from basketball courts to farming communities, from college campuses to police departments, JTA reported.
“We must say clearly and forcefully that antisemitism and all forms of hate and violence have no place in America,” Biden said in a prerecorded video. “Silence is complicity.”
The 60-page document and its list of more than 100 recommendations stretches across the government, requiring reforms in virtually every sector of the executive branch within a year. It was formulated after consultations with over a thousand experts, and covers a range of tactics, from increased security funding to a range of educational efforts.
The plan has been in the works since December, and the White House has consulted with large Jewish organizations throughout the process. The finished document embraces proposals that large Jewish organizations have long advocated, as well as initiatives that pleasantly surprised Jewish organizational leaders, most of whom praised it upon its release.
Among the proposals that Jewish leaders have called for were recommendations to streamline reporting of hate crimes across local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, which will enable the government to accurately assess the breadth of hate crimes. The proposal also recommends that Congress double the funds available to nonprofits for security measures, from $180 million to $360 million, JTA reported.
One proposal that, if enacted, could be particularly far-reaching — and controversial — is a call for Congress to pass “fundamental reforms” to a provision that shields social media platforms from liability for the content users post on their sites. The plan says social media companies should have a “zero tolerance policy for hate speech on their platforms.”
In addition, the plan calls for action in partnership with a range of government agencies and private entities. It says the government will work with professional sports leagues to educate fans about antisemitism and hold athletes accountable for it, following instances of antisemitic speech by figures such as NBA star Kyrie Irving or NFL player DeSean Jackson.
Rabbi Levi Shemtov, the executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) praised the breadth of the plan, and said the delay seemed to produce results.
“There are so many opinions and positions to consider. And the White House sought wide input. Not everyone will be delighted, but this initiative is encouraging,” Rabbi Shemtov told COLlive.
“Unfortunately, beyond the Orthodox Jewish New York community, we have been the recipients of a disproportionate number of attacks and prevented attempted attacks on our facilities and persons.
“This being clearly acknowledged by the White House initiative announced today, as well as many Jewish organizations with strong voices in its development, is significant and a good basis to continue to counter this scourge.
“Obviously, as I have claimed, the most efficient answer to antisemitism is a strong semitism. Beyond the protection, we need identity reinforcement and education for Jewish people across the board of all ages. And we are uniquely suited to help provide that across the country and indeed globally.
“Shavuos is a most appropriate time to renew our commitment to the strength of the Jewish people and the continuity of the Torah’s teachings.
“Further, the directive which the Torah states more than any other is to be unafraid. That should be the next phase of focus. We are not just targets or victims of antisemitism.
“We are actually the ones chosen to continue semitism and will bring us a better result in the end,” Rabbi Shemtov concluded.
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Rather encouraged by the strong start in today's announcement. Took a while, worth the wait. I hope to help work to build on this and happy with the specific focus on our community. Clarity is key.
— Levi Shemtov (@shemtovdc) May 25, 2023