COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Biden-Harris administration just announced a first-of-its-kind, lengthy plan to combat antisemitism and on Monday, the Second Gentleman of the United States Doug Emhoff was in Columbus to talk with mayors from across the country at the annual Conference of Mayors, about the plan.
After he met with mayors, he talked with NBC4 in an interview you will only see here.
“I think there’s a small but very loud group sowing a lot of hate and division; there’s a much bigger group that wants to lead with love, lead with joy, lead with compassion,” Emhoff said. “Hate is insidious, hate against one community is a hate against all.”
Emhoff said the administration’s plan to fight antisemitism focuses on education and leading with compassion and said it can only be done with the help of local leaders like mayors, business and religious leaders.
“They’re really best to take the message from the Biden-Harris administration,” he said. “We can’t do it alone as an administration, we want partnership with local communities, we want partnerships with the private sector.”
Emhoff said while talking with mayors from all over the country, they discussed how to make those partnerships work.
“We talked about safety at houses of worship and in communities, which is obviously a concern, but on the flip side we talked about compassion, leading with compassion,” Emhoff said. “The antidote to anti-Semitism, antidote to hate is love and joy and leading with positivity.”
This plan comes as antisemitic instances are popping up across the country and here in Ohio including Nazi home-schooling and Proud Boy appearances.
“We still see antisemitism in Ohio, we see it in other states,” Gov. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) said in an April interview. “And we have to speak out about it.”
Emhoff said one piece of the puzzle is education, both in the classroom and for law enforcement.
“A lot of people may not know what antisemitism is, they may not know a lot of Jewish people, so, we also talked about ways in which communities and mayors can get the word out: ‘here’s who Jewish people are, here’s what antisemitism is,’” Emhoff said. “To kind of to debunk a lot of the horrible tropes and stereotypes that have been around for literally thousands of years.”
And DeWine agrees education is important; in that late April interview, he said continuing the conversation about tragedies like the Holocaust is imperative so history does not repeat itself.
“So that more kids will understand it and see it and it will become real for them,” DeWine said, “I think too often it’s not real for people.”
“Jews are really only about 2% of the population in America and yet make up a huge amount of the hate crimes that are going on,” Emhoff said.
Emhoff said the goal is to implement the plan to combat antisemitism over the next 12 months across the country.