Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff convened a roundtable of Jewish leaders at the White House Wednesday to discuss the rise in antisemitism around the country, acknowledging the U.S. has a serious problem that for too long has been ignored.
Emhoff was joined by leaders from the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox denominations and made the case no one can remain silent in the face of the growing Jewish hatred they're facing today.
"I will not remain silent. I am proud to be Jewish," said Emhoff. "I'm proud to live openly as a Jew. I am not afraid. I refuse to be afraid."
As the first Jewish person married to a president or vice president, the growing problem of antisemitism is deeply personal to Emhoff, and he says everyone must stand against it.
"There is an epidemic of hate facing our country," declared Emhoff.
Emhoff said Wednesday's roundtable was only the beginning of the conversation.
"Let me be clear: words matter," he continued. "People are no longer saying the quiet parts out loud, they are screaming them."
According to a 2021 Pew Research poll, more than nine in ten U.S. Jews surveyed claim there is at least some antisemitism in America, and three-quarters believe there is more antisemitism now than five years ago.
Globally, a 2018 CNN poll revealed one in 20 Europeans surveyed said they'd never heard of the Holocaust. Of those who have, a third indicated they believed the Jewish people use the Holocaust to advance their position or to achieve certain goals, and 28% percent responded that Jewish people have too much influence over global finance and business.
"American Jewry is a little over 2% of the American population, and we are the targets of 63% of all religious-based hate crimes in the United States," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Rabbi Cooper tells CBN News there's been a recent explosion of anti-Jewish hatred in the U.S. coming from influential people like the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and he warns words matter.
"We're already a community that spends a lot of its resources to secure the safety of our Jewish schools, simply walking to Synagogue on the Sabbath you coordinate with the local PD," he said.
Cooper is calling on social media giants like Twitter to do more to stop the problem.
"Degrade the capability of extremists of all types, including antisemites, from leveraging social media to create even more problems in society," Cooper said.
And he said he welcomes the conversation hosted by Emhoff Wednesday but thinks Democratic leadership needs to do more.
"I still await action by the Democratic leadership against members of the squad who have from the congressional bully pulpit expressed antisemitism and paid no price whatsoever for it," Cooper continued.
Leaders at the White House Wednesday claimed that for far too long people have failed to take antisemitism seriously, and added the time to act to curtail the surge is now because later it will be too late.