Biden Condemns 'Ferocious' Surge in Antisemitism in Speech

President Joe Biden on Tuesday warned of “the ferocious surge of antisemitism” in the wake of pro-Palestinian protests that have swept college campuses nationwide over Israel’s war with Hamas, and vowed to continue to support Israel.

“I understand people have strong beliefs and deep convictions about the world,” Biden said at a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol to remember victims of the Holocaust. “But there is no place on any campus in America or any place in America for antisemitism or hate speech, or threats of violence of any kind.”

As college commencement season begins, many of which have been canceled or disrupted by protests, Biden addressed the climate at American universities. “On college campuses, Jewish students [have been] blocked, harassed, attacked, while walking to class,” Biden said. “Antisemitism, antisemitic posters, slogans calling for the annihilation of Israel, the world’s only Jewish state. Too many people denying, downplaying, rationalizing, ignoring the horrors of the Holocaust and Oct. 7... It is absolutely despicable, and it must stop.

Biden’s remarks come as he faces increasing pressure to stop sending arms to Israel as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza grows. More than 34,000 people have been killed in Gaza, with many of the area’s 2.3 million people on the brink of starvation, following Hamas’ kidnapping of more than 200 hostages and killing of 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7, 2023.

Read More: Biden Condemns Campus Unrest Over Israel-Hamas War: ‘None of This Is a Peaceful Protest’

Biden on Tuesday signaled that he would continue to support Israel even as his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has soured over his government’s push to invade the southern Gaza city of Razah. “My commitment to the safety of the Jewish people and Israel is ironclad,” Biden said, “even when we disagree."

While Biden has been a longtime supporter of Israel's right to defend itself, he continues to face intense scrutiny for the civilian casualties and humanitarian crisis resulting from the conflict. Protests at college campuses across the country have erupted over Israel’s response and his Administration’s handling of the war, highlighting potential problems could face among young voters as he seeks re-election.

Biden said that his Administration is "working around the clock" to free remaining hostages in Gaza. Hamas on Monday said it has accepted a ceasefire deal proposed by Egypt and Qatar which seeks to halt the seven-month war with Israel, though it’s unclear what the ceasefire deal entails and whether Israel will accept the terms.

During his speech, Biden also honored the memory of the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust and reaffirmed his commitment to never forgetting the lessons of “one of the darkest chapters in human history.”

"Never again simply translated for me means: Never forget. Never forgetting means we must keep telling the story, we must keep teaching the truth," Biden said. "The truth is we're at risk of people not knowing the truth." Biden connected the Holocaust to the Oct. 7 attack, which was the deadliest day for Jews in Israel since: “Here we are, not 75 years later, but just seven and a half months later—people are already forgetting that Hamas unleashed this terror… I have not forgotten.”

Biden’s speech took place one day after Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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