White House press secretary says she misheard question on antisemitism during briefing

The response received backlash online, including from one Democratic lawmaker who slammed the “weak answer” in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“What a weak answer,” Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), who is Jewish, posted on Monday evening. “The simple answer is yes, you are concerned about the rise of antisemitism. Of course we are also worried about hatred against Muslim Americans. Must do better.”

Jean-Pierre’s response was “clearly a whiff,” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who is also Jewish, said during an interview on CNN on Tuesday — though she noted that President Joe Biden “could not possibly be standing more strongly with Israel.”

The number of antisemitic episodes across the world has been on the rise since the war between Israel and Hamas began earlier this month, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Attorney General Merrick Garland has directed U.S. attorneys across the country to keep in close contact with state and local officials as threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities rise.

Biden denounced both antisemitism and Islamophobia during an Oval Office speech last week, following the death of Wadea Al-Fayoume, the 6-year-old Palestinian American boy who authorities say was stabbed to death because he was Muslim.

“We can’t stand by and stand silent when this happens,” Biden said. “We must without equivocation denounce antisemitism. We must also without equivocation denounce Islamophobia. And to all you hurting, I want you to know I see you. You belong. And I want to say this to you: You’re all American.”

Jean-Pierre has previously condemned antisemitism during several White House appearances. In an Oct. 12 briefing, she noted that the “entire Biden–Harris administration” is “committed to doing all we can to protect against antisemitism and other forms of hate.”

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