(Washington, D.C., May 25, 2023)—B’nai B’rith President Seth J. Riklin and CEO Daniel S. Mariaschin have issued the following statement:
The new White House national strategy to combat anti-Semitism is a welcome and unprecedented effort by the U.S. government to address the growing issue of anti-Jewish animus in the country. We commend the Biden administration for the magnitude of this effort, starting with its inter-agency task force, resulting in the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Anti-Semitism.
We appreciate the affirmation in the national strategy on the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition of anti-Semitism, which has been accepted by local and national governments, nongovernmental organizations, academic institutions, corporations and sports teams around the world. Fighting anti-Semitism involves defining it: the IHRA definition does that.
We applaud President Joe Biden’s introduction of the strategy, with the forceful words: “Silence is complicity.”
And we agree with Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Liz Sherwood-Randall’s description that, “anti-Semitism is un-American.”
Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, the U.S. special envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism noted the “unprecedented” determination of the plan to fight anti-Semitism and suggested it can serve as a global model. “This could not be more essential.”
We are encouraged that this broad approach touches many aspects of society, including security for synagogues; education initiatives to address rampant anti-Semitism at the K-12 and university levels; data collection; attention to anti-Semitism online, and noting the critical role that tech companies must take on their own platforms; and workplace protections, among many pieces within the four critical pillars outlined within the plan.
We are, however, disappointed in the document’s mention of the Nexus definition of anti-Semitism. We believe that definition allows the more invidious of Israel’s nemeses to hide their animus behind “strident” criticism of Israel. The important and well-established IHRA definition addresses this issue in a far superior manner.
But even with those concerns we are deeply satisfied that the national strategy to fight anti-Semitism provides an invaluable investment in promoting and realizing tolerance, safety and security for Jews across the country.
We will work with the administration to ensure, as Lipstadt noted, the “broadest support of the American people.”