JCRC Blog – We Applaud the White House’s Interagency Plan to Address Antisemitism

By Jeff Dawson
Associate Director, Jewish Community Relations Council
Published June 7, 2023

Antisemitism has reached such levels that on May 25, the White House released its whole-of-society, interagency plan to address it. The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) has been actively advising the White House and advocating for key elements that align with our policy priorities.


In line with the statement put out by JFNA, we applaud President Biden and his team for crafting a comprehensive plan to address the urgent issue of rising antisemitism. The plan incorporates several vital elements for which we have been advocating, including increased funding of $360 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, support for the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act and a commitment to quality Holocaust education.


As communal leaders, our involvement in the four pillar areas outlined in the plan is crucial for advancing a “whole-of-society” approach to combating antisemitism at the local, state and national levels. We are pleased to note that the plan includes specific timelines to accomplish stated goals. Although the White House did not officially adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, it did reaffirm and embrace it as the primary definition. The Federation movement remains committed to the IHRA definition’s uncontested use, as it has proven effective in combating this age-old hatred, acknowledged by the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt.


There have been critiques of the White House’s plan. Some have been articulated by Emet, which highlights concerns regarding the universalization and abstraction of antisemitism, the need for a clear definition of antisemitism in academic institutions and the inclusion of certain organizations in the White House Task Force on Antisemitism.


Other critiques are expressed by Elder of Ziyon, which criticizes the White House’s plan to combat antisemitism for too narrowly focusing on far-right antisemitism while largely ignoring antisemitic strands from the political left. Elder of Ziyon also says the plan lacks specific definitions and strategies to combat modern antisemitism often disguised as anti-racism and justice, rendering the plan too vague to be effective.


As this piece indicates, the White House plan faces an early test in the wake of the CUNY Law commencement speech controversy. How the plan addresses incidences such as these is crucial.


We greatly appreciate the White House’s unprecedented efforts to address the issue of antisemitism. It marks a historic moment for America in the modern fight against the world’s oldest hatred. The true measure of the plan, however, lies in its implementation. As such, we actively welcome the outlined timelines to which they will be held accountable. These benchmarks establish transparency and trust and ensure the sustained momentum of efforts toward our common goal. It’s vital to continually engage in dialogue, critique, and refine the strategies to guarantee the best possible results for our community. We stand prepared to collaborate in this endeavor to ensure the success of these measures in safeguarding our community and effectively combating antisemitism.


Read the JCRC blog to stay up to date about issues affecting the Jewish community of the Palm Beaches.