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Anti-Defamation League calls on Biden to appoint Jewish liaison amid rise in antisemitic attacks

Anti-Defamation League takes on antisemitism
Anti-Defamation League CEO on taking action against antisemitism 12:35

The Anti-Defamation League is asking the White House to appoint a liaison to the Jewish community after recent violence between Israel and Hamas led to a rise in antisemitic attacks in the United States. 

"We want to see the administration appoint a Jewish liaison at the White House," the organization's CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said on CBSN Thursday.

The position was filled by presidents for decades and left vacant under former President Trump. The ADL told CBS News it is looking for "the re-establishment and filling" of the role, in order to "enable clear channels of communication between the White House and the American Jewish community."

Greenblatt also said, "We have been waiting for them to name a position at the State Department that is still vacant, the special envoy for antisemitism, and desperately Congress and the White House should work together to fund a program called security grants for nonprofits."

That program, the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, awards funding to nonprofit organizations deemed high-risk targets for terrorist attacks. 

"It already exists and whether it's synagogues or Black churches or mosques, we know that houses of worship are vulnerable," Greenblatt said. "That program should be increased — the White House, the administration, on a bipartisan basis could work with Congress and really get something done there."

Nearly 200 anti-Semitic incidents were reported to the Anti-Defamation League in one week after the Israeli-Palestinian conflict erupted this month, the group said in a press release last week. The figure is up from 131 reports the group recorded the week prior. 

"Oftentimes in the past where there would be a conflagration in the Middle East, there might be an uptick in anti-Semitism here," Greenblatt said. "But the last two weeks, it has been more drastic and frankly, more dangerous."

Part of the reason, he says, is social media.

"We have seen unhinged memes, we have seen inflammatory videos, and we have seen crazy conspiracy theories that are circulating through Instagram, through WhatsApp, through TikTok and Twitter, through YouTube," he said.

The ADL said more than 17,000 tweets used variations of the phrase "Hitler was right" between May 7 and May 14.

It also mentions "messages including explicit praise for Hitler, promoting tropes about Jewish control and demonizing all Jews," and claims that "extreme antisemitic and anti-Zionist content can be found across a wide variety of channels calling for the destruction of the Jewish state."

"These companies need to step up and take down that type of poison before it hurts more people," Greenblatt said. 

Greenblatt lauded President Biden for the steps he has taken so far, but urged those in office to be clear in their condemnation of anti-Semitism.

"We were really heartened that President Biden and Vice President Harris spoke out strongly on Monday of this week," Greenblatt said. "Frankly Joe Biden's whole career, he stood up against hate."

"Elected officials need to say clearly, without qualifications, this hate and anti-Semitism is unacceptable."

Leaders from five Jewish organizations held their second meeting with Mr. Biden this week, Axios reports. On Monday they urged the president to appoint people to the positions of White House liaison to the Jewish community and State Department special envoy for anti-Semitism. The special envoy position would require Senate confirmation after being elevated to the rank of ambassador.   

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