In line with its efforts to promote belonging and democracy, William & Mary will partner with the White House and other organizations across the country on the first-ever U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, the Biden-Harris Administration announced Thursday. 

The strategy includes more than 100 new actions to raise awareness of antisemitism and its threat to American democracy, protect Jewish communities, reverse the normalization of antisemitism and build cross-community solidarity, the White House announced.

U.S. President Joe Biden said it’s the most ambitious and comprehensive U.S. government-led effort to fight antisemitism in American history.

“In the past several years, hate has been given too much oxygen, fueling a record rise in antisemitism. It’s simply wrong. It’s immoral. It’s unacceptable. It’s on all of us to stop it,” Biden said during a video presentation. “We must say clearly and forcefully that antisemitism and all forms of hate and violence have no place in America, and we cannot remain silent. I will not remain silent, and you should not either.”

According to a White House press release, the U.S. has recently experienced an increase in antisemitic incidents, among other acts of hatred. American Jews account for 2.4% of the U.S. population, but they are victims of 63% of reported religiously motivated hate crimes, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The White House received commitments from W&M and other institutions of higher education, as well as organizations across the private sector, civil society and religious and multi-faith communities to support the whole-of-society call to action.

Belonging is one of W&M’s core values, and democracy is one of the central pillars of William & Mary’s Vision 2026 strategic plan.  

“William & Mary played a foundational role in establishing our republic. As a public institution, we remain steadfastly committed to our national leadership role in preparing graduates for lives as citizens and professionals to flourish in our pluralistic democracy,” W&M President Katherine A. Rowe said. “We look forward to joining the White House in this important national effort.”

This is the latest action by William & Mary to counter antisemitism and other religious discrimination. Some of the university’s other initiatives include:

  • Leading an antisemitism training for university administrators in October in collaboration with the Anti-Defamation League.
  • Sponsoring the dean of students’ participation in a Fellowship and Summer Institute on Antisemitism and Jewish Inclusion in Educational Settings.
  • Hosting a full-year “lunch and learn” program for faculty and staff designed to bridge differences and educate on topics such as “The Convergence of Abrahamic Major Religious Holidays: A Discussion of Interfaith and Religious Diversity.”
  • Convening William & Mary’s entire Student Affairs Division in programs on religious pluralism and the student experience.
  • Supporting a co-curricular series on faith in action for students, which has included field trips to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

During Thursday’s White House presentation, Deborah Lipstadt, U.S. special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, said the White House’s strategy is essential because antisemitism “threatens not just the safety of Jews, but the strength of our democracy.”

“Here again, history is instructive, telling us that where antisemitism persists, democracy suffers,” Lipstadt added. “Where Jews are at risk, so too are the rights of everyone from every race, religion, ethnicity or creed. Yet where communities and nations step forward to combat antisemitism, they tend to emerge more secure, more free and more fair for all.”

, University News & Media