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Biden marks Hanukkah by condemning antisemitism

President Joe Biden speaks during a Hanukkah Holiday Reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Photo by Samuel Corum/UPI
1 of 4 | President Joe Biden speaks during a Hanukkah Holiday Reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday. Photo by Samuel Corum/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 20 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden vowed during a White House reception Monday night marking the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah that he and the United States will not be silent in the face of growing antisemitism nationwide.

"Silence is complicity. We must not remain silent," he said. "And I made no bones about it from the very beginning: I will not be silent. America will not be silent."

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Biden made the comment in a speech before guests assembled in the White House's Entrance Hall for a Hanukkah holiday reception amid growing fears about antisemitism in the Untied States.

In the past few months, several high-profile figures, including former President Donald Trump, rapper Kanye West and NBA star Kyrie Irving, have spread or been seen associating with those who spread anti-Jewish conspiracy theories and rhetoric.

Earlier this month, the Anti-Defamation League released a report that found antisemitic incidents targeting Jewish institutions jumped 61% from 2020 to 2021 with this year looking to present similar numbers.

According to the ADL, since June there have been at least 121 antisemitic incidents targeting Jewish institutions with 10 such instances reported last month alone with those numbers expected to climb as instances are confirmed.

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The anti-hate group said these threats are occurring as antisemitism becomes "increasingly mainstreamed."

The president in his remarks Monday quoted a speech given at the White House in April of 1999 by author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who said, "Indifference is always the friend of the enemy."

"Today, we must all say clearly and forcefully: Antisemitism and all forms of hate and violence in this country can have no safe harbor in America. Period," he said. "And evil -- this is not hyperbole -- evil will not win. Hate will not prevail."

During the ceremony, first lady Jill Biden called attention to the first-ever White House menorah.

The seven-branch candelabra was made by the Executive Residence Carpenter Shop of wood removed from the White House around 1950 during a Truman-era renovation project.

Other menorah's displayed in the White House over the years were borrowed, with this one being the first Jewish artifact in the entire White House collection.

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"It's a work, really of historic importance, but it's also a work of love," she said.

The president added that the diverse people of the United States are bonded by the Jewish menorah and the belief that "we know and we love the story of a nation that depends not on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us."

"We are the United States of America and there's nothing beyond our capacity when we decide to do it together," he said. "Not a single thing."

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