On Thursday, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff marked the start of Hanukkah by criticizing a group of university presidents during the National Menorah lighting near the White House.
Emhoff expressed concern over what he deemed an “unacceptable” lack of moral clarity when these presidents refused to confirm if advocating for the genocide of Jewish people would be considered harassment under their campus policies.
The criticism stemmed from their recent appearance at a congressional hearing, where they avoided directly answering Rep. Elise Stefanik’s question on the matter.
Emhoff, acknowledging the challenges faced amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas and a surge in antisemitism, emphasized the importance of condemning antisemitism unequivocally.
He cited instances of college students fearing to attend class, people hesitating to go to synagogues, and individuals being attacked in the streets due to their Jewish identity. Emhoff concluded by stating that targeting Jews for their beliefs or identity and singling out Israel due to anti-Jewish hatred constitutes antisemitism and must be condemned.
The rise in antisemitic incidents followed Hamas’s terrorist attacks against Israel on Oct. 7, leading to approximately 1,200 casualties. President Biden and the White House have consistently condemned antisemitism and Islamophobia in recent weeks.
A White House spokesperson mentioned on Thursday that, as Hanukkah begins, there are no specific, credible threats against Jewish communities, but the federal government is actively monitoring intelligence for potential issues.