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125 lawmakers call for national antisemitism strategy, propose interagency task force

The call is the most robust yet for a national, cross-agency strategy for addressing spiking antisemitism nationwide

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Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) speaks to members of the press after a weekly Senate Democratic policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol May 10, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

A bipartisan group of 125 lawmakers urged President Joe Biden on Monday to establish a  “whole-of-government” approach to antisemitism, the broadest call yet for such a unified plan to combat spiking antisemitism across the country. 

In a letter to Biden, the lawmakers call on the administration to develop a “National Strategy to Combat Antisemitism” and suggest that the administration establish an interagency task force to combat antisemitism, led by an official with the rank of assistant secretary or higher to help the administration work more closely to tackle the problem.

The communique, organized by the chairs of the bipartisan Senate and House antisemitism task forces — Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), James Lankford (R-OK) and Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Chris Smith (R-NJ) — includes 33 Senate and 92 House signatories.

“Combating a growing threat of this magnitude, particularly here at home, requires a strategic, whole-of-government approach,” the letter’s signatories argue. “Antisemitic voices, inciting hateful and violent action, are finding new audiences, with anti-Jewish conspiracies gaining traction across the globe and through social media.”

The lawmakers argue that interagency coordination should include “a broadly understood definition of antisemitism,” as some individual agencies have adopted, as well as “closer coordination” among the various entities involved in combating antisemitism, across the administration and within Congress, to share information, fill gaps and minimize overlaps.

“The strategic collaboration of such entities would also send a key message to the American people and the international community that the United States is committed to fighting antisemitism at the highest levels,” the letter continues.

The lawmakers further request that the administration work with the leaders of the House and Senate task forces and nonprofit leaders to develop a national strategy.

“At this moment of heightened antisemitism, fighting hate cannot be a partisan issue. That Senators Rosen and Lankford, and Representatives Manning and Smith have come together with more than 100 of their colleagues — a critical moment where Members not only reached across the aisle, but across chambers as well — to stake out a position on this is a welcome and necessary show of leadership from the Hill,” Dan Granot, the Anti-Defamation League’s director of government relations, told Jewish Insider. “ What they are demanding is what ADL has long called for in our COMBAT Plan: A unified national strategy to combat antisemitism. Our leaders cannot approach this problem passively — or haphazardly.  Now is the time for a concerted, coordinated, whole-of-government strategy to address the hatred that is becoming dangerously mainstream.”

The letter follows movement on the Hill pushing for such a national strategy — Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), joined by Rosen and others, convened a meeting on Capitol Hill last week with administration and nonprofit leaders to discuss such a national strategy. 

Rosen pressed FBI Director Christopher Wray and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas on whether they would support a national strategy to combat antisemitism at a Senate hearing last month. Both said that they would.

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, White House advisers Susan Rice and Keisha Lance Bottoms and antisemitism envoy Deborah Lipstadt will be hosting a meeting at the White House on Wednesday with Jewish leaders to further discuss antisemitism.

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