EXTREMISMU.S. Creates New Antisemitism Task Force

Published 3 March 2023

Four out of 10 Jews in the US feel less secure than they did a year ago. Faced with an uptick in antisemitism, the White House responds with an action plan.

My predecessors could go to Europe and say, ‘something is happening in your country, and we are very concerned about it.’ I can’t do that,” explains the US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism to a group of international colleagues gathered in Washington. These days Deborah Lipstadt’s message is: “We have a problem, and we are all concerned about it.”

Ambassador Lipstadt is nothing short of a living legend. She is the one who put author David Irving behind bars in Austria for spreading antisemitic lies. She is known for facing down antisemitism whenever and wherever it starts gnawing away at the foundations of society. In 2023 this means taking a hard look at the problems in Washington’s own backyard.

Antisemitism Rising in the U.S.
In 2021, the United States recorded its highest level of antisemitic attacks in recent years — on average seven per day. The Anti-Defamation League, an NGO that fights all all forms of antisemitism, fears even worse figures for 2022. Doubtless many incidents also go unreported. As the US wakes up to a new, more anti-Jewish reality, US President Joe Biden has vowed to ensure that “antisemitism has no place in America.” To this end, the White House set up an inter-agency group at the end of 2022, tasked with putting together the country’s first national strategy for countering antisemitism.

Together with the White House, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) has called on antisemitism envoys from the very countries that used to take America’s advice on how to tackle the problem. The European Union, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain all have antisemitism strategies in place already. Moreover, the US and Germany also have similar federal systems with wide-ranging powers.

Germany’s antisemitism commissioner, Felix Klein, believes the two countries share a common challenge and has stressed the need for setting up reliable structures. In Germany, Klein is pushing for more focal points and specially trained staff to work with both state prosecutors’ offices and local police stations. This, Klein says, is the only way to ensure antisemitic crimes are recognized for what they are.