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An open letter to President Biden on rising anti-Semitism from Ronald S. Lauder

26 Jul 2021

Dear President Biden:

I write to you today not just as president of the World Jewish Congress, but as an American, a proud Jew, and a longtime friend.

For over 40 years, I have come to know you as a man of profound decency and moral strength. In the Senate, you were an outspoken defender of the Jewish state of Israel. Five years ago, as Vice President, you honored the World Jewish Congress by accepting the 2016 Theodor Herzl Award, in recognition of your steadfast support of the Jewish people.

But recently, American Jews have witnessed something we never thought we would see in this country we love. Today, a Jewish man wearing a yarmulke cannot walk down an American street without fear of violence. Jews have been attacked by pro-Palestinian mobs in Los Angeles, New York and other cities. Anti-Semitic incidents have more than doubled in the past year. Hate crimes against Jews in America are twice as high as crimes against any other religious group.

A recent survey conducted by the World Jewish Congress found that more than half of American Jews believe anti-Semitism is a real problem in their communities, 71% are concerned for America’s support for Israel, and 6-in-10 have personally experienced anti-Semitism.

Most worrisome, several members of Congress — under the guise of criticizing Israel — have embraced age-old anti-Jewish vulgarities and turned them loose on the digital world. In attacking Israel, these elected representatives give credence to long discredited and vile anti-Semitic slurs. These are not the ravings of anonymous internet commenters. They are carefully and deliberately chosen words originating in the halls of the United States Congress, the highest legislative body in our land.

I know you share our concern that some of this rhetoric comes from the political party of which you have been a life-long member, and which you now lead. I certainly know you do not condone these lies and that you condemn anti-Semitism in the strongest possible terms.

But I humbly urge you to do more. As President of the United States, you have the ability to delineate which lines cannot be crossed. If a member of Congress—regardless of party affiliation — contributes to the noxious anti-Semitic discourse, I ask that you declare such hatred beyond the pale of decency and say so publicly.

You are the one man in our country who can make a difference in this critical moment. You are the one leader who can restore justice, peace and harmony in our country. More than ever, we need your leadership, and we need your bold, decisive action, consistent with the great American spirit you represent.

Yours sincerely,

Ronald S. Lauder

President, World Jewish Congress