President Joe Biden’s administration has announced a national strategy, the nation’s first, for combating antisemitism, with a call to action across government agencies, law enforcement and other institutions against a reported wave of discrimination and proliferation of online hate.
“It sends a clear and forceful message: In America, evil will not win. Hate will not prevail,” the president said in a prerecorded message shared on 25 May. “The venom of antisemitism will not be the story of our time.”
Sharing a video of the announcement, Republican US Rep Lauren Boebert said the plan would instead be used to target “conservatives” like her.
“When they say stuff like this, they mean they want to go after conservatives,” she wrote on Twitter on 26 May. “Their tactics are straight out of the USSR’s playbook.”
Her critics were quick to point out that she was conflating a campaign against hate with an attack on the American right, an echo of other far-right criticism against attempts to combat hate speech, white supremacism and violent extremist groups.
Democratic US Rep Sara Jacobs shared Ms Boebert’s post with a meme from Mean Girls, with the caption: “So you agree? You think you’re antisemitic?”
“Congresswoman Boebert is mistaken; antisemitism is not ‘conservative’ – it is evil,” deputy White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates told The Independent.
“President Biden is standing up for a bedrock American value that goes beyond politics and is embraced by liberals, conservatives, and independents: that we are better than antisemitism and hate,” he added. “Those vile forces fly in the face of what America represents. If anyone finds opposition to hate threatening, they need to look inward.”
Mr Bates also suggested that Ms Boebert study the history of the Soviet Union’s “long, repulsive history of antisemitism” – a regime that the president also has condemned.
In a statement to The Washington Post, Ms Boebert’s office condemned antisemitism and charactised the Biden plan as an attempt to censor speech.
“This is the latest version of this administration’s failed ‘Ministry of Truth,’” Ms Boebert said in the statement. “The First Amendment guarantees a marketplace of ideas where truth, beauty, and justice ultimately win out.”
“If the congresswoman believes efforts to combat antisemitism are a way to ‘go after conservatives’,” said Jonathan Reiner, a professor of medicine and surgery at George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, “then what does that say about conservatives?”
The Independent has requested additional comment from Ms Boebert’s office.
In 2022, there were 3,697 reported incidents of antisemitic assault, harassment and vandalism in the US, according to the Anti-Defamation League. That figure marks a 36 per cent increase from 2021, and represents the largest number of attacks against Jewish people in the US since the organisation began reporting such incidents more than 40 years ago.
The venom and violence of antisemitism will not be the story of our time.
Today, I'm releasing the most ambitious and comprehensive U.S. government-led effort to combat antisemitism in history.
Allow me to lay it out: pic.twitter.com/XaELutboLV
— President Biden (@POTUS) May 25, 2023
The Biden administration’s plan – with input from hundreds of federal and local officials, faith leaders and civil rights groups, among others – includes more than 100 recommendations for policy changes and congressional action, among other steps.
It also includes 10 separate calls for technology companies to bolster zero-tolerance policies against hate speech and to combat the spread of antisemitic language across their platforms.
Democratic Senator Jacky Rosen, co-chair of the Senate and House Bipartisan Task Forces for Combating Antisemitism, said the “whole-of-government approach” will “effectively utilize the full force of the United States government to root out antisemitic hate across our nation.”