Biden, Again, Decries Antisemitism On U.S. Campuses In Holocaust Remembrance Remarks

President Joe Biden delivers remarks regarding college campus protests at the White House on Thursday, May 2, 2024.
President Joe Biden delivers remarks regarding college campus protests at the White House on Thursday, May 2, 2024. Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Tuesday renewed his call against antisemitism on college campuses and vowed not to forget the more than 1,100 victims of the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by the militant group Hamas — the trigger for Israel’s subsequent assault on Gaza that has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians.

Biden spoke at a ceremony marking this year’s Holocaust Days of Remembrance at the U.S. Capitol to honor the 6 million Jews killed by German dictator Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime.

“Here we are not 75 years later, but just seven and a half months later, and people are already forgetting, have already forgot, that Hamas unleashed this terror,” he said. “It was Hamas that brutalized Israelis. It was Hamas that took and continues to hold hostages. I have not forgotten, and nor have you. And we will not forget.”

Biden said the Oct. 7 attack and Israel’s response had brought out antisemitism both in the United States and around the world, especially on college campuses that have become the recent focus of protests against Israel’s military response in the Gaza Strip.

“On college campuses Jewish students blocked, harassed, attacked while walking to class,” he said, repeating a message he delivered last week from the White House: “There is no place on any campus in America, any place in America, for antisemitism or hate speech or threats of violence of any kind.”

Biden and his aides have, since reports of verbal and physical attacks against Jewish students emerged months ago, denounced them — but have nevertheless been accused by many Republicans of remaining silent or actually encouraging antisemitic behavior.

Last week, Biden spoke directly on the topic in his White House remarks, telling pro-Palestinian protesters that they had a right to demonstrate peacefully but no right to abuse others, use violence or prevent others from attending classes or graduation ceremonies.

Ahead of this year’s presidential election, Biden has angered some supporters of Israel by publicly reminding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about adhering to the laws of war and protecting civilians from harm, which Biden did even during a visit to Israel days after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. And he enraged many supporters of Palestinians, including in the key battleground state Michigan, by refusing to cut off military aid to Israel despite the tens of thousands of civilians its army and air force reportedly have killed, along with thousands of Hamas militants.

He repeated that support for Israel again Tuesday. “My commitment to the safety of the Jewish people, the security of Israel, and its right to exist as an independent Jewish state is ironclad, even when we disagree,” he said.