Ambassador Susan E. Rice Remarks at Launch of U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism
As Prepared For Delivery:
Thank you, Mr. Second Gentleman. Good morning, everyone. Thanks so much for joining us for today’s special announcement.
Like President Biden and the Second Gentleman, I take antisemitism personally. I grew up in a mixed Jewish and Black neighborhood in Washington, D.C. My family home used to belong to the Israeli Embassy, and we kept a mezuzah on our doorframe. I learned prayers from my Jewish classmates and was welcomed at Passover seders in their homes.
I was fortunate to travel with my father and brother to Israel for the first time at age 14 and visit Yad Vashem, Masada, and a working kibbutz. When I was Ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Advisor, I witnessed the ugly impacts of antisemitism in the international arena. At the UN, I was proud to defend Israel against unfair attacks on its legitimacy and security. I embraced this role with passion, because I loathe injustice. I loathe antisemitism, racism, and any form of hatred.
Jewish commitments to justice and tikkun olam—repairing the world—have long been sources of inspiration for me and the work that I do.
But, as the Second Gentleman has said, we still have a lot of “tikkun” to do when it comes to the dangerous threat of antisemitism.
A firm and unrelenting response—from government, business, and civil society—is essential and urgent.
That is exactly the action this new U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism represents. It is the first and most comprehensive and ambitious national strategy to counter antisemitism in American history.
Today, we’re announcing over 100 new actions that the federal government will take in the next 12 months to counter antisemitism. We are also making more than 100 specific calls on Congress, state and local governments, the private sector, and civil society to join in countering antisemitism now and over the long term.
Our strategy has four pillars.
Let me dive into two of these pillars and share a few examples of actions we’re announcing today. White House Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall will address the other two pillars.
Our first pillar is to increase awareness and understanding of antisemitism, including its threat to America, and broaden appreciation of Jewish American heritage.
Eight-five percent of Americans believe at least one antisemitic trope, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
In 2020, a study found more than 3 in 5 American millennials and Gen Z did not know that 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.
This is simply unacceptable. We must increase school-based education about antisemitism, including the Holocaust and contemporary antisemitism, as well as Jewish American heritage.
To that end, we are proud to announce that, in 2024, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will launch the first-ever U.S.-based Holocaust education research center.
What’s more, the National Endowment for the Humanities will expand its investment in K-12 education on Jewish history through partnerships with independent organizations and other federal agencies.
But our efforts to raise awareness about antisemitism and Jewish heritage must extend far beyond the classroom—to our workplaces and our communities.
Under the strategy, federal agencies have committed to incorporating information about antisemitic bias and discrimination into their diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility training programs. They have also committed to educating their networks about the many invaluable contributions of Jewish Americans to our country.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, for example, will develop educational programs that highlight the diversity of veterans and the outstanding service of Jewish veterans. The Institute of Museum and Library Services willpartner with the Council of American Jewish Museums to host a summit for museums, libraries, archives, and patrons on countering antisemitism.
Another pillar of the strategy is focused on increasing cross-community solidarity and collective action to counter antisemitism and other forms of hate.
When a gunman entered a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, in January 2022, taking the rabbi and four worshippers hostage, a nearby Catholic church opened its doors to the hostages’ families. Baptist and Muslim neighbors arrived to help.
When the only mosque in Victoria, Texas, was burned to the ground in a hate crime in 2017, the town’s sole rabbi handed mosque leaders keys to the synagogue.
Such unity and allyship are essential. We can conquer hate, but only by joining forces with one another. Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. That’s America’s unique comparative advantage.
To foster unity and partnerships, the White House will recognize leaders of outstanding projects in the newly announced Ally Challenge. Americans will be invited to describe their acts of allyship with Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, or other communities that are not their own.
The Department of Health and Human Services will also leverage the National Youth Sports Strategy and the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition to spotlight how activities like sports, fitness, dance, cooking, and volunteering can build community solidarity to counter antisemitism and other forms of hate.
To support this whole-of-society strategy, today, organizations across the private sector, civil society, religious and multi-faith communities, and higher education are announcing new commitments to counter antisemitism. We encourage organizations across America to join them in taking meaningful steps to address antisemitism and hate.
Tomorrow is my last day as the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor. It has been the greatest privilege to serve President Biden alongside my colleagues in the Domestic Policy Council, at the White House, and throughout the federal government.
My parting request for those listening today is do whatever you can—in your communities, your schools, your dorms, your houses of worship, your workplaces—to counter antisemitism and all other forms of hate. We all must do our part. It is essential to preserving our democracy and national unity.
Finally, I encourage you all to read our national strategy. The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring its effective implementation and to leveraging it in our fight against all forms of hate.
Thank you. With that, I will turn it over to my friend and close colleague, Liz Sherwood-Randall.