White House Would Rather Discuss Islamophobia Than Anti-Semitism

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

There are times when the Biden administration expresses categorical, unequivocal support for Israel’s war of survival against the Iran-backed terror group Hamas. “Enough is enough should have been the case with Hamas two weeks ago,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday. “It would be good to hear the entire world speaking clearly and with one voice about the actions that Hamas took.” But then there are times when the Biden administration demonstrates all the moral assurance of a blind man on a tightrope.

An exchange of this latter sort occurred on Monday, when White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to a reporter’s question about President Biden’s “level of concern right now about the potential rise of anti-Semitism in light of everything that’s going on in Israel.”

“Look, we have not seen any credible threats,” replied Jean-Pierre. “I know there’s been always [sic] questions about credible threats. And so, just want to make sure that that’s out there.”

Having disposed of anti-Semitism in 27 words, Jean-Pierre pivoted: “But, look, Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks. And certainly President Biden understands that many of our Muslim, Arab Americans, and Palestinian American loved ones and neighbors are worried about the hate being directed at their communities. And that is something you heard the president speak to in his address just last Thursday.”

Jean-Pierre spent three more paragraphs morally equating anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, noting that President Biden has directed the Department of Homeland Security “to prioritize prevention and disruption of any emerging threats that could harm the Jewish, the Muslim, Arab Americans or any other communities.” She added that Biden “ran on … bringing people together … protecting the soul of the nation,” which means “we’re going to continue to denounce any sort of hate.”

Sadly, there have been vile acts provoked by anti-Muslim motives as a result of the Hamas attack. On October 14, an Illinois landlord stabbed two Palestinian American tenants, a six-year-old boy (26 times) and his mother (12 times); the boy died.

But anti-Muslim violence does not negate or mitigate anti-Jewish violence — which is actually a larger problem. Citing FBI data from 2021, Klein granted that Muslims were victims of a “disproportionate number” of “anti-religious hate crimes,” being the targets of about 10% of anti-religious crimes, although Muslims comprise only 1% of the population. But he noted that Jews (2% of the population) are the victims of 51% of anti-religious crimes.

Nor is anti-Muslim violence equivalent to the rising threat of anti-Semitism. Over the past two weeks, people in America have displayed swastikas, glorified terrorists who murdered Jews, argued that Israel has no right to exist, tore down posters of Israeli kidnapping victims, beaten and taunted Jews, and fantasized about killing Jews. Pro-Hamas demonstrators have grown increasingly aggressive, even entering congressional office buildings and clashing with police. Even before Hamas’s October 7 terror attack, the Biden administration in May saw a need for a multi-department “National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.” Yet Jean-Pierre overlooked all of this to conclude, “We have not seen any credible threats of anti-Semitism.”

Jean-Pierre’s statement at the press briefing was not an outlier. National Review Online Editor Philip Klein identified the same trend in the president’s social media posts. “Notice how Biden’s post about Islamophobia does not mention anti-Semitism, but the one on anti-Semitism mentions Islamophobia,” said Klein, with images of two tweets side-by-side.

Yet that does not mean Jean-Pierre’s response was good. Democratic Congressman Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) criticized it as “a weak answer.” He said, “The simple answer is yes, you are concerned about the rise of antisemitism.” Jean-Pierre clarified later Monday on social media, “To be clear: the President and our team are very concerned about a rise in antisemitism, especially after the horrific Hamas terrorist attack in Israel.”

If so, why didn’t she say so in the first place?

One possible reason is that the term “Islamophobia” functions as a Trojan horse to import an array of leftist dogma. According to Runnymede Trust, a British race-equality think tank who claims to have coined the term in 1997, the term “doesn’t mean racial hatred,” wrote Brendan O’Neill, editor of the independent British publication Spiked, in 2018. He distinguished “Islamophobia” as a concept from anti-Muslim hatred, which he acknowledged does exist. O’Neill explained:

“Runnymede’s definition of Islamophobia, which has been adopted by the Metropolitan Police, includes any suggestion that Islam is ‘inferior to the West’, and even the belief that Islam is sexist. If you think Islam is ‘unresponsive to change’, you are Islamophobic. And, get this, if you ‘reject out of hand’ ‘criticisms of the West made by Islam’, you’re an Islamophobe. So even to ridicule Islam’s view of the West is apparently to be infected with the ‘cancer’ of this so-called racism.”

According to this definition, “Islamophobia” accusations are a useful vehicle for Westerners to communicate their self-loathing. The definition is also internally inconsistent. It dictates that Westerners must not think Islam is “unresponsive to change,” but they must also accept Islamic criticisms of Western culture, even when Muslims criticize the very changes of which the same Westerners are most proud — the LGBT agenda comes to mind.

To be clear, Western civilization is far from perfect, and it is not “superior” to others for any racial reasons. Nevertheless, through centuries of interacting with Christianity, Western civilization has been infused with a recognition of biblical principles such as the inherent dignity of each human life, the equal value of women, and the importance of caring for the poor. These principles are widely acknowledged, even among non-Christians, and among those who don’t connect these principles with Christianity. The practical applications of these principles help to make countries like the United States of America much better places to live than places like Afghanistan or Somalia. Jesus described the kingdom of heaven as “leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened” (Matthew 13:33).

Some Westerners wish to distance themselves from Western civilization’s biblical legacy and increasingly embrace unbiblical ideas and policies. Exterminating “Islamophobia” provides perfect camouflage for their agenda. If the Biden administration wishes to distance themselves from accusations such as these, they would have a difficult time proving that case based on their policy record.

Another possible reason why the Biden administration may want to equate anti-Semitism with Islamophobia is that discussions anti-Semitism raises uncomfortable questions concerning members of their own left-wing coalition. According to a Harvard/Harris poll conducted this month, 49% of Americans aged 18 to 24 — a demographic the Democratic party actively courts — explicitly supports Hamas — not Palestinians generally, but the terrorist group in particular — in its war against Israel.

Even members of Congress issued anti-Israel statements in the wake of the terror attack against Israel and have falsely described the country as an “apartheid” state for years.

In other words, the Biden administration is reluctant to forcefully condemn anti-Semitism (and anti-Semitism alone) because a substantial faction of its own coalition is anti-Semitic. Decoupling anti-Semitism from Islamophobia — an entirely different issue — takes moral courage. If Biden really cares about “the soul of America,” now would be a good time to show it.

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.

Photo: washingtonstand.com

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Family Research Council
Founded in 1983, Family Research Council is a nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to articulating and advancing a family-centered philosophy of public life. In addition to providing policy research and analysis for the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the federal government, FRC seeks to inform the news media, the academic community, business leaders, and the general public about family issues that affect the nation from a biblical worldview. Website: frc.org 1-800-225-4008 801 G Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001