Biden denounces anti-Semitism on campus in a speech commemorating the Holocaust. • Wisconsin Examiner

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden warned Tuesday about rising anti-Semitism in the U.S. and said too many people are forgetting the attack on Israel in October.

During a Holocaust remembrance speech at the U.S. Capitol, Biden emphasized the importance of honoring the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust and the victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel that sparked the war between Israel and Hamas.

“Now here we are, not 75 years later but just seven months later, and people are already forgetting, they are already forgetting that Hamas unleashed this terror,” he told attendees at the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual commemoration day.

“I haven’t forgotten, and neither have you, and we won’t forget,” he continued.

Biden criticized student protests on college campuses across the country over Israel’s war efforts. Protesters have called on their institutions to get rid of companies linked to Israel and called for a ceasefire.

“We have seen a wild wave of anti-Semitism in America and around the world,” Biden said. “There is no room for anti-Semitism, hate speech, or threats of violence of any kind on any campus in America, no place in America.”

Biden praised the peaceful student protests last week, while criticizing those that turned violent.

As the war reaches the seven-month mark, more than 34,000 Palestinians – including 13,000 children – have been killed, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. The war began after Hamas militants killed about 1,200 Israelis and foreigners and took 199 people hostage on October 7.

Combating anti-Semitism

Biden announced several new government initiatives on Tuesday to combat anti-Semitism.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will issue new guidance to all school districts and colleges to provide examples of anti-Semitic discrimination and how these instances may violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The agency said it has opened more than 100 investigations in the past seven months into complaints of discrimination based on shared origins or ethnic characteristics, including anti-Semitism.

The Department of Homeland Security will also create an online guide to campus safety information and develop best practices for “community-based targeted violence and terrorism prevention to reduce these attacks and assaults,” according to a White House fact sheet.

The State Department also has an agency, the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, that will convene tech companies to identify best practices for tackling anti-Semitist content online.

US House action

Biden was joined Tuesday by Republican Chairman Mike Johnson of Louisiana and Democratic House Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York.

The House of Representatives last week passed legislation to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism for the Department of Education’s enforcement of the Civil Rights Act. All schools that receive federal funding must comply with that law.

Some Democrats have raised concerns that the language is too broad and could lead to restrictions on free speech.

The definition’s lead author, Kenneth Stern, then an anti-Semitism expert at the American Jewish Committee, repeatedly opposed the definition and raised concerns when the Trump administration attempted to issue an executive order similar to the recent bill from the House of Representatives.

“It was never intended to be a hate speech code on campus, but that is what Donald Trump’s executive order accomplished this week,” Stern wrote in 2019. “This order is an attack on academic freedom and freedom of speech, and will harm not only Palestinian advocates, but also Jewish students and faculty, and the academy itself.”

Johnson is also leading a House-wide effort to crack down on college campus protests, including targeting college presidents and threatening to withdraw federal funding from those institutions.

Members of the House Education and Workforce Committee questioned Education Secretary Miguel Cardona on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses. Several similar hearings are scheduled in the coming weeks.

“We are witnessing American universities quickly becoming hostile places for Jewish students and faculty,” Johnson said.

Johnson said there has been a rise in anti-Semitism since October 7, which was the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust.

“The threat of a repeat of the past is so great,” Johnson said. “There are those who prefer to criticize Israel and lecture them on its military tactics… than to punish the terrorists who committed these heinous crimes.”