Last Thursday, the White House released its much-hyped U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. As our readers are well aware, combating antisemitism is absolutely central to our efforts. As such, we feel this issue is important enough that we’re going to deviate from our traditional multi-topic Update and focus exclusively this week on the strategy put forth by the Biden administration.

What is it?


The Biden administration introduced this strategy as a “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach to combating antisemitism. While we are grateful for the first White House report on the rising tide of antisemitism, and it’s call to action against a clear and present threat against the Jewish people, there are limitations on what government can do, and challenges in trying to move private citizens and corporations to address any societal ill. As we see it, in sum, the document includes some worthwhile executive action points coupled with numerous “recommendations” which we and many others will be closely tracking. The strategy is divided into four pillars:

1.      Raise awareness of antisemitism and its threat to American democracy,

2.      Protect Jewish communities,

3.      Reverse the normalization of antisemitism,

4.      Build cross-community solidarity.

On its face, one would want to welcome such a national strategy with great fanfare. But we can’t in good conscience just send out a tweet patting them on the back – especially after having reviewed the words on those pages. While the strategy does reference IHRA – albeit in what we see as an inadequate manner - the Biden administration took a step back in efforts to combat antisemitism by elevating a definition of antisemitism which seeks to undermine  the IHRA definition by opening up further avenues for criticism of Israel, despite the fact that IHRA has been acknowledged by a majority of U.S. states and dozens of countries around the world (including the U.S.). With that in mind, we can move to the next question: will it work?

Will it Work?


The answer to this question is that if handled well, some elements of the strategy will have some impact. For example, there are certain executive branch actions, such as the establishment of a Holocaust education research center at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum that if run properly, could be beneficial. Likewise, the emphasis on incorporating certain best practices into law enforcement efforts to gather and analyze information on antisemitic incidents and entities as well as the call to Congress to fully fund the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) could and should make our Jewish neighbors safer if done properly.

Sadly, however, once we move beyond executive action to the next element of each pillar, most of the document includes recommendations to Congress that require a degree of consensus the Biden administration has failed to achieve on this – or nearly any other – issue.

Moving to the third element of each pillar, we’re not terribly optimistic that many of the “whole-of-society” recommendations have much of a chance of coming to fruition. For example, calls to tech companies to police their platforms for hate-speech are hardly new and yet this has not happened. Moreover, the administration’s effort to make tech companies more responsible for what’s on their platforms would require a key law to change, and, frankly, that has been discussed in Washington for years, with no impact.

Finally, in another example of what sounds nice but is unlikely to happen, the administration emphasizes the inclusion of antisemitism awareness education in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) training at the corporate level, but we expect that will be largely ignored – especially in light of the fact that a noticeable amount of DEI activists do not seem to care much about antisemitism (at best). It will take organizations like CUFI to impact corporate behavior. The government generally fails in such efforts unless laws are passed (see our earlier reference to consensus building).

What’s Next?


For us, what is next is that we keep doing exactly what we have been doing because we’ve actually had an impact.

Since we began our Holocaust education enhancement efforts, a number of states have either legally mandated such or skipped the legislative process and directly incorporated Holocaust education into their statewide social studies standards. Likewise, we’ve been there to support the Jewish community every time they’ve asked for help with NSGP funding. At the local level, we recently backed the successful effort to authorize funds for NSGP in Arizona. At the federal level, we’ve advocated for an increase in those funds, which has taken us from a $90 million annual appropriation when we embarked on this policy endeavor to seeing just over $300 million in funds presently appropriated. 

At the end of the day, we see this strategy as bolstering some of the important elements of the fight against antisemitism while at the same time undermining other elements such as the failure to uphold IHRA as the singular gold standard definition.

Bottom line, even in our modern age, actions still speak louder than words, and as of now, this memo is heavy on the latter and short on the former.


The CUFI Action Fund Team


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