Biden Condemns Violence, Antisemitism During Annual Holocaust Remembrance Ceremony

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today on Capitol Hill, President Joe Biden delivered a keynote address at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual Days of Remembrance ceremony. 

Today’s ceremony comes as antisemitism around the globe rises and as the war between Israel and Hamas rages into its seventh month. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), there was a 140% increase in antisemitic incidents from 2022 to 2023, with a large spike after October 7. 

According to Congressional leaders, there were 30 Holocaust survivors at the ceremony. Some shared stories of how their families died in concentration camps.  

President Biden and other leaders honored the six million Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust and emphasized how important it is to never forget what happened during that dark period, roughly eighty years ago. 

Today’s ceremony occurs as protests ramp up on college campuses, in some instances turning violent. President Biden said he supports the right to protest and freedom of speech but added order must prevail. 

“I understand people have strong beliefs and convictions of the world. In America we respect and protect the fundamental right to free speech, to debate and disagree, to protest peacefully and make our voices heard,” said Biden. “I understand that’s America, but there’s no place on any campus in America, any place in America for antisemitism or hate speech or any threats of violence of any kind,” Biden added. 

“We remembered what happened then, and now today we’re witnessing American universities quickly becoming hostile places for Jewish students and faculty. The very campuses which were once the envy of international academy have succumbed to an antisemitic virus,” said House Speaker Mike Johnson (R- LA). 

“The effort to combat antisemitism is not a Democratic issue or Republican issue. It’s an American issue. We must crush antisemitism along with racism, sexism, islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, and all other forms of hatred together,” said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D- NY). “Thats the American way. And together we will defeat antisemitism with the fierce urgency of now,” Jeffries added. 

Senator Bob Casey (D- PA) is pushing for the Senate to pass the “Antisemitism Awareness Act.” The bill requires the Department of Education to use the working definition of antisemitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance alliance when they are investigating or reviewing complaints of discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal funding. The House passed that bill last week.  

The attacks on October 7 killed roughly 1,200 people in Israel, it was the largest killing of Jewish people since the Holocaust. In Gaza, more than 34,000 people have been killed since the start of the war. 

The Israeli military is moving forward with operations into the heavily populated city of Rafah, where they’ve threatened an assault for weeks, despite heavy pushback from the Biden Administration.