Biden to host White House Hanukkah ceremony amid fears about rising antisemitism

A man returns to his seat during the National Chanukah Menorah lighting, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2023, at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

President Joe Biden hosted a reception at the White House Monday to mark Hanukkah, celebrating the holiday as he continued to criticize rising antisemitism in the U.S. and abroad amid ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

The president, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will attend the reception. Hanukkah continues through Friday.

The Biden administration in May announced what it called the first-ever national strategy to combat antisemitism. That outlines more than 100 actions, including a series of measures to raise awareness and understanding of antisemitism and the threat it poses to the US environment.

However, antisemitism has only intensified in some quarters since the October 7 attack by Hamas and other militants that sparked Israel’s ongoing war in Gaza, which has faced mounting criticism for the growing number of Palestinians. that death. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza and urged its members to demand an immediate humanitarian cease-fire.

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The Biden administration has supported a since-expired, temporary ceasefire while Hamas releases some of the hostages it is holding in Gaza, and is pushing for another truce — but the fighting continues in the meantime.

The husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, Emhoff is the first Jew to become the spouse of one of the national elected leaders. Last week, he led the lighting ceremony of a large menorah in front of the White House to mark the first night of Hanukkah, saying that American Jews “feel alone” and “in pain .”

On Saturday, Liz Magill, the president of the University of Pennsylvania, resigned amid pressure from donors and criticism over testimony at a congressional hearing in which she failed to say under repeated questioning that the calls to campus for the genocide of Jews violates school ethics. policy.

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Universities across the US have been accused of failing to protect Jewish students amid rising fears of antisemitism around the world and fallout from the war in Gaza.