White House Releases First-Ever Strategy to Combat Antisemitism

Matt Gonzales By Matt Gonzales June 7, 2023

​President Joe Biden in May rolled out a plan to reduce antisemitism in the U.S.—a widespread issue that has worsened since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first-ever National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism outlines more than 100 new actions that federal agencies have committed to take to counter anti-Jewish hate. The plan includes four pillars that focus on raising awareness, improving security, reversing normalization and building solidarity.

Biden called the strategy the "most ambitious and comprehensive U.S. government-led effort to fight antisemitism in American history."

"Protecting the Jewish community from antisemitism is essential to our broader fight against all forms of hate, bigotry and bias—and to our broader vision of a thriving, inclusive and diverse democracy," Biden wrote in a letter accompanying the strategy.

The plan addresses key themes raised by more than 1,000 stakeholders from various sectors across the Jewish community and beyond. It includes over 100 calls-to-action for Congress, state and local governments, tech companies, and others to mitigate antisemitism.

The strategy comes five months after Biden launched the Interagency Policy Committee on Antisemitism, Islamophobia and Related Forms of Bias and Discrimination to combat religious hate nationwide.

Strategy Promotes Jewish ERGs

Jonathan Segal, a Philadelphia-based employment law attorney, said the strategy appropriately encourages employers to call out antisemitism in their training and policies related to discrimination and harassment.

"If they have not done so already, employers should modify their compliance efforts to incorporate antisemitism," said Segal, who is Jewish. "For compliance efforts on antisemitism to be effective—particularly in terms of training—employers and HR professionals, in particular, need to understand what antisemitism is."

Segal noted that antisemitism is a conspiracy theory alleging that Jews have exaggerated power and use it to help themselves or hurt others. As the White House plan explains, antisemitism intensely affects the Jewish community and "threatens the democracy, values, safety and rights of all Americans."

Kenneth L. Marcus, founder and chairman of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, said the strategy signals that antisemitism has risen to a level that requires urgent national attention—not only from the federal government, but also from the private sector, states and localities.

"It is extraordinary to see the White House urging education and training on antisemitism in the workplace so that managers and workers will be better equipped to identify and counter it," he added.

Marcus was particularly pleased that the White House is joining the effort to promote employee resource groups (ERGs) for Jewish employees, which provide a space for these workers to connect and build allyship.

According to the White House report, "Employers should work with [ERGs], especially in issuing both internal and external statements when instances of antisemitism arise."

Many employers in the past have failed to launch ERGs for their Jewish employees, Marcus noted.

"We're still getting resistance from some quarters when we urge companies to provide their Jewish employees with the benefit," he said. "This is something that many Jewish employees are getting upset about. The Biden administration is recognizing that this has got to stop."

[SHRM Online: Combating Antisemitism in the Workplace]

How Prevalent Has Antisemitism Become?

A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) revealed that antisemitic incidents in the U.S. grew by 36 percent in 2022—the highest level recorded since 1979. This is the third time in the past five years that the year-end total has been the highest number ever recorded.

According to the ADL, antisemitic occurrences in 2022 took place at:

  • Jewish institutions, including synagogues, community centers and schools (589 incidents).
  • K-12 schools (494 incidents).
  • Businesses (327 incidents)
  • College campuses (219 incidents).

The rise in antisemitism "is a result of increasing sociopolitical polarization and the rise of hate-ridden extremes on both ends of the spectrum," Marcus said. "With improved communications technologies, social media and migration, this oldest hatred has multiplied and spread."

Segal said that workplaces can address antisemitism in several ways:

  • Talking about the prevalence of discrimination against Jews, including the dangers of conspiracy theories, via cultural initiatives.
  • Including in their anti-harassment policies examples of antisemitism, such as the use of hate symbols or inappropriate comments about people's faith.
  • Adhering to religious accommodations.
  • Creating an inclusive environment that recognizes Jewish heritage, history and culture.
  • Speaking out against antisemitism to the same degree they do with racism and sexism.

"The failure to speak out when it comes to antisemitism contributes to the normalization of it," Segal said. "Employers are well-advised to consider each recommendation [made in the White House's strategy] specific to employers as a way to audit their policies and practices to see if they can do more to address antisemitism in their workplaces."



Hire the best HR talent or advance your own career.

Are you a department of one?

Expand your toolbox with the tools and techniques needed to fix your organization’s unique needs.

Expand your toolbox with the tools and techniques needed to fix your organization’s unique needs.



HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.