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

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

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is hosting a White House reception Monday to mark Hanukkah, celebrating the holiday as he has continued to denounce rising antisemitism in the U.S. and abroad amid the 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 counter antisemitism. That laid out more than 100 actions, including a series of steps to raise awareness and understanding of antisemitism and the threat it poses around the U.S.

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

The Biden administration supported a since-expired, temporary pause in the fighting as Hamas released some of the hostages it held 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 Jewish person to be the spouse of one of the country’s nationally elected leaders. Last week, he presided over the lighting ceremony of a massive menorah in front of the White House to mark Hanukkah’s first night, saying then that American Jews are “feeling 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 where she was unable to say under repeated questioning that calls on campus for the genocide of Jews would violate the school’s conduct policy.

Universities across the U.S. have been accused of failing to protect Jewish students amid rising fears of antisemitism worldwide and fallout from the war in Gaza.

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