230 years ago, President George Washington reassured the Jews of Newport that our new nation would give bigotry no sanction and persecution no assistance.
His meaning and message were quite specific: in the United States of America, the bigotry of antisemitism must have no place, no quarter, no haven, no home.
Antisemitism – or, more explicitly, Jew-hatred – the world’s longest oldest form of prejudice has pierced and permeated too many countries, too many cultures faiths, and communities.
It comes at us from all political, religious, and cultural directions. Groups that agree on nothing else often agree on their suspicion and hatred of Jews.
And if we needed any reminder about the validity of that claim, the past five weeks have made it plain.
So today, as a representative of President Biden and Vice President Harris and the United States government, I can tell you without hesitation:
Regardless of party or political persuasion, at the White House or in Congress, at home and abroad, this government stands shoulder-to-shoulder against Jew-hatred.
We stand arm-in-arm to combat antisemitism wherever it hides or attempts to reside.
We echo our Founding Father, unequivocally and unreservedly:
Today, in America, we give antisemitism no sanction, no foothold, no tolerance…
Not on campus.
Not in grade school.
Not in our neighborhoods.
Not in the streets of our cities.
Not in our government.
The reason is simple – antisemitism is wrong. It is hateful. It is an immediate threat to Jews everywhere. And that alone would be sufficient reason to combat it.
But antisemitism is far more than just that.
It’s an affront to the integrity of our laws. It is a gateway to prejudice and racism and injustice of every form. It is a direct danger to our democracy. And We – the United States Government – will fight it. Full stop.
I have the honor and responsibility to travel the world to wage this fight in foreign lands. In the past five weeks I have visited many of our major European allies. And the message I deliver – the message I hear – everywhere is unmistakable: no sanction for antisemitism.
When Holocaust memorials are vandalized in Canada, France, Greece, Denmark, or the United States;
When Molotov cocktails are thrown at synagogues in Berlin and Montreal;
When Jews peacefully protesting are physically or verbally intimidated;
When Jewish children are harassed;
When protestors chant “Gas the Jews”;
When Jewish stars are painted on buildings housing Jews;
That is not expressing support for Palestinian rights. That is Jew-hatred pure and simple.
We must not be blind to the hate implicit in the widespread celebrations of Hamas’ October 7 killing spree.
When protestors streets chant “Peace and glory to the martyrs.” That incites more hatred and more death. It is a danger to the values and underpinning the stability and decency of ANY society anywhere in the world.
Hate is not a zero-sum game. Hate and violence directed at any member of our society because of who they are is un-American, and wrong.
Thankfully, countries once beset by antisemitism are acting to counter it. Our major European allies have deployed legions of police officers to protect Jewish institutions. But there are some countries that are spreading and fostering hatred of Jews. The world must unite to condemn and combat it.
Today, gathered before me on this mall are people of all faiths, beliefs, identities, and backgrounds. You are united by your abhorrence of Jew-hatred and your recognition of its lethal nature.
We are grateful for the myriad law enforcement personnel who protect us. And please remember to thank them.
But the fact is, that no group of Americans should have to live that way. They should live free, in need of no protection, unflinching, and unafraid.
Let me be clear: do not sink to the level of those who harass you. Do not tear down posters. Do not intimidate those who disagree with you. Do not block their path or taunt them as they do to you.
But do not cower. Allow no one make you afraid.
The message is built into the Jewish people’s most ancient history:
Jews are strongest at their broken places.
Know that this nations’ leaders are determined to oppose antisemitism at every turn. They are by your side now and long into the future.
The fight will be a long one.
But Jews have faced such challenges before and have overcome them.
You who hate this evil will prevail because this cause has justice wholly on its side.
The fight will be won because there is no other option – and because, as President Washington reassured the Jews of Newport, this nation gives bigotry no sanction, and 230 years later, that still holds true.
Hazak v’amatz. Be strong and of good courage. Thank you for that strength. Thank you for that courage. Thank you.