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President Joe Biden speaks during a Hanukkah holiday reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House
Biden called antisemitism 'venom' during a White House Hanukkah eventImage: Susan Walsh/AP Photo/picture alliance
PoliticsUnited States of America

Biden condemns antisemitism at White House Hanukkah event

December 20, 2022

US President Joe Biden said he will not remain silent as long as antisemitism in the US is on the rise. He made the comments during a Hanukkah event at the White House.


US President Joe Biden said Monday he will not remain silent in the face of growing antisemitism in the country.

"Silence is complicity," he said, adding, "I will not be silent. America will not be silent."

Biden was speaking at an event celebrating Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, at the White House.

"I recognize your fear, your hurt, you 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. 

What do we know about the event?

The White House Hanukkah celebration was attended by at least one Holocaust survivor, Bronia Brandman, and Charlie Cytron-Walker, the rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, where a hostage had been taken in January.

The reception had the first-ever official menorah, which will now be the first Jewish artifact to be added to the White House archives.

First lady Jill Biden said, "The White House has never had its own menorah, until now. It is now a cherished piece of this home, your home, tonight," 

Saving Holocaust artifacts for the future

Why is Biden speaking up now?

Biden's move comes as reports of antisemitism have increased in the US.

Last week, he launched a new effort to develop a national strategy to counter antisemitism.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, the US recorded 2,717 antisemitic acts such as assaults, verbal attacks and property damage in 2021, a year-on-year increase of 34 percent.

The American Jewish Committee, one of the country's oldest Jewish advocacy organizations, said that 39% of Jewish people in America acknowledged they had "changed their behavior, limiting their activities and concealing their Jewishness due to concerns about antisemitism."

One in four reported being a victim of antisemitism over the past year.

Recently, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West made antisemitic statements.

Former President Donald Trump had sparked criticism for hosting white supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes at his Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, last month shortly after announcing that he is running for the presidency again.

tg/ar (AFP, Reuters)

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