In primetime address, President Biden denounces rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia in United States as war rages
President Biden addressed Americans on the war in Israel and Gaza from the Oval Office on Thursday evening. He emphasized that “Israel and Palestinians equally deserve to live in safety, dignity, and peace.” What struck me the most about the speech was his call for vigilance and self-reflection here at home. Here is an excerpt:
[W]e have to be honest with ourselves. In recent years, too much hate has been given too much oxygen, fueling racism, a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia right here in America.
Today, Jewish families worried about being targeted in school, wearing symbols of their faith walking down the street, or going out about their daily lives.
You know, I know many of you in the Muslim American community or the Arab American community, the Palestinian American community, and so many others are outraged and hurting, saying to yourselves, “Here we go again,” with Islamophobia and distrust we saw after 9/11.
Just last week, a mother was brutally stabbed, a little boy — here in the United States — a little boy who had just turned six years old was murdered in their home outside of Chicago. His name was Wadea — Wadea — a proud American, a proud Palestinian American family.
We can’t stand by and stand silent when this happens. We must, without equivocation, denounce antisemitism. We must also, without equivocation, denounce Islamophobia.
We’re a nation of religious freedom, freedom of expression. We all have a right to debate and disagree without fear of being targeted at schools or workplaces or in our communities.
Last week, the FBI released hate crime statistics for 2022, noting that antisemitic hate crimes in the U.S. rose 25% and accounted for more than half of the reported religion-based hate crimes. President Biden commented on the report on Monday and reiterated the administration’s commitment to combating all religious-based hate crimes:
To those Americans worried about violence at home, as a result of the evil acts of terror perpetrated by Hamas in Israel, we see you. We hear you. And I have asked members of my team, including Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas and Attorney General Garland, to prioritize the prevention and disruption of any emerging threats that could harm Jewish, Muslim, Arab American, or any other communities during this time. My Administration will continue to fight Antisemitism and Islamophobia.
In a statement on the war in Israel and Gaza, BJC’s Amanda Tyler reminded us to “consider the suffering of our human siblings.” And to avoid dehumanizing any of the actors in the conflict. “God yearns for peace,” she added, “and therefore so should we.”