Rabbi Yaakov Menken: Biden’s address to Congress left anti-Semitism unaddressed. Why?


We all expected President Biden to speak about hate in America during his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night.

He did not disappoint.

He talked about the murder of George Floyd, systemic racism, and white supremacy. He mentioned attacks upon Blacks, Native Americans, and women. He celebrated a hate crimes act to protect Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

This past weekend, in fact, provided Biden with an additional reason to discuss hate in America. Beginning Thursday night and proceeding through the weekend, four different synagogues and three vehicles were vandalized in a Jewish neighborhood in the Bronx. All were damaged in precisely the same way: smashed windows.

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Every student of the Holocaust knows that the Nazis’ first wholesale, violent attack on Jewish property was Kristallnacht—the Night of Broken Glass.

Seeing it replicated in microcosm on the streets of New York traumatized the Jewish community, and gave Biden the opportunity to assuage its concerns with words of healing.

There’s one problem: he passed.

President Biden spoke about “the viciousness of the hate crimes over the past year,” but never mentioned the community that is, according to the FBI, overwhelmingly the most frequent victim. Given the small Jewish population of the United States, merely 2 percent of Americans, a Jew is several times more likely to be the target of a hate crime than all of those who earned Biden’s mention.

For Biden to spend so much time talking about racism and hate in America, and to rattle off a long list of targeted groups—yet omit entirely the targets of multiple hate crimes carried out within the previous week—sends its own message: Jews don’t qualify as a targeted group.

Could we imagine that President Biden would have said nothing if it had instead been four Black churches, or four mosques, vandalized last weekend?

Of course not. It would have been a leading element of his address, the centerpiece of his section on fighting bigotry.

For Biden to spend so much time talking about racism and hate in America, and to rattle off a long list of targeted groups—yet omit entirely the targets of multiple hate crimes carried out within the previous week—sends its own message: Jews don’t qualify as a targeted group.

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Instead, Biden called for passage of a bill, the “Equality Act,” that would give state sanction to anti-Semitism. It provides a potent weapon to be used against anyone who dares to hold a Jewish wedding with a Mechitzah, a divider between men and women, in accordance with thousands of years of Jewish observance.

For Asians, Biden called for the passage of a new hate crimes act. For the more frequent Jewish victims of precisely the same random, violent assaults, he called to make their religious practices a violation of American statute… and to declare their Bible a bigoted document.

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This is not entirely new. We did not have to wait for a joint session of Congress to wonder whether Jewish concerns were being ignored. One Biden appointee after the next has a track record of hostility towards the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

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Biden placed Maher Bitar, whose animosity against the world’s only Jewish state is longer than his career, in charge of intelligence on the National Security Council.

As USAID Administrator he selected Samantha Power, the former U.N. Ambassador who, in 2016, architected the ridiculously anti-historical and obviously hateful UNSC Resolution 2334, which declared the site of the Jews’ Holy Temple, David’s city, the Mount of Olives, Judea and Samaria to all be “occupied Arab land.”

And as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israel and Palestinian Affairs at the State Department, he picked Hady Amr, who responded to the neutralization of a notorious Hamas terrorist by decrying Israel’s “brutal murders of innocents” and implying that both Israelis and Americans deserved to be targeted in return. And this is by no means an exhaustive list of Biden appointees with similar records and attitudes.

Also, within the past week, dozens of rockets from Hamas terrorists have targeted Israeli towns, attempting to murder men, women and children indiscriminately for the “crime” of being a Jew trying to live on the Jews’ Holy Land.

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Yet on Wednesday night, Biden claimed that “our intelligence agencies” not only regard white supremacy, biased thoughts, as terrorism, but “the most lethal terrorist threat today.”

The most frequent targets of terrorist threats would, of course, beg to disagree. But according to the Oval Office’s newest occupant, Jews aren’t a targeted group, after all.

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