White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday emphasized the need to speak out against antisemitism one day after she drew criticism for responding to a question about the administration’s concern about a rise in antisemitism due to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
In response to that question, Jean-Pierre on Monday said officials have “not seen any credible threats” before speaking about crimes targeting Muslims and Arab Americans.
On Tuesday, Jean-Pierre took to the podium at the top of the daily press briefing to address the matter.
“I want to make something clear at the top because I understand how important moral clarity is, especially at this time,” Jean-Pierre said.
“When Jews are targeted because of their beliefs or their identity, when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred, that is antisemitism, and that is unacceptable,” she continued. “There is no place for antisemitism full stop, period. This is important to the president, it’s important to me personally and to everyone in the administration.”
“We must all do our part and forcefully, forcefully speak out against antisemitism, and we must ensure there is no place for hate in America,” Jean-Pierre added. “Not against Jews, not against Muslims, not against Arab Americans, not against Palestinian Americans. Not against anyone.”
The press secretary’s comments appeared to be a response to some of the criticism she received over an answer during Monday’s briefing.
Jean-Pierre was asked then about the president’s level of concern with the potential rise in antisemitism in light of the terrorist attacks in Israel earlier this month. She responded that there has not been any indication of credible threats before speaking about the “disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks” Muslims, Arab Americans and Palestinian Americans are dealing with.
“What a weak answer. And why are you looking in the book? What’s the approved answer?” Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, in response to Jean-Pierre’s comments. “The simple answer is yes, you are concerned about the rise of antisemitism. Of course we are also worried about hatred against Muslim Americans. Must do better.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, wrote on X that he had “no clue” what Jean-Pierre was trying to say.
“Of course, all hate crimes are bad, but the question was about antisemitism,” Greenblatt said, adding that the ADL “has tracked a massive increase in antisemitic incidents in the past 2 weeks — on top of the historic levels of anti-Jewish hate we’ve already been seeing.”
President Biden has repeatedly spoken in the wake of the terrorist attacks that killed more than 1,400 Israelis about the rise in antisemitism and the horrors Jews have had to endure. In an Oval Office speech delivered last week in primetime, Biden condemned antisemitism and Islamophobia.
The White House has more broadly made efforts to address concerns about a rise in antisemitism across the country. In May, the administration released a first-of-its-kind national strategy for combating antisemitism amid record levels of violence, vandalism and hate speech directed at Jewish communities.