The White House roundtable on Wednesday follows a surge in anti-Jewish vitriol spread by a famous rapper, an NBA star and other prominent people.
Emhoff is the first Jewish person among the top four officials — the president, vice president and their spouses — in the executive branch of government, and he has become increasingly outspoken about growing bias toward adherents of the Jewish faith, and hate at large, in the U.S.
“It’s painful, it hurts,” Emhoff said Friday after he was asked about rising antisemitism during an appearance at the NewDEAL Leaders conference of state and local officials in Washington.
Former President Donald Trump recently hosted Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust-denying white supremacist, at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. The rapper Ye — formerly known as Kanye West — expressed love for Adolf Hitler in an interview. Basketball star Kyrie Irving appeared to promote an antisemitic film on social media. Neo-Nazi trolls are clamoring to return to Twitter as new CEO Elon Musk grants “amnesty” to suspended accounts.
Emhoff, in his response at the conference, said he did not want this type of sentiment to “feel normal.”
“I don’t want people to think, ‘Well, it’s just words,’” he said. “We have to all step up and speak out about this as leaders in your communities. So as long as I have this microphone, I’m going to keep speaking up, speaking out, and again, not just about antisemitism but about hatred and bringing everyone else together.”
“This is not OK. It’s not OK,” Emhoff continued. “We cannot be silent. We gotta push back. We gotta speak up. And we cannot make this normal. We cannot.”
The White House did not announce on Monday which Jewish leaders will participate in the roundtable.
White House officials, including senior presidential advisers Susan Rice and Keisha Lance Bottoms, and Deborah Lipstadt, special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism, were slated to join.