President Biden on Monday welcomed Jewish lawmakers and community members to the White House for a celebration of Hanukkah with the backdrop of a surge in antisemitism amid Israel’s war with Hamas.
“Hanukkah is a timeliness story of miracles,” Biden said, describing it as a symbol of survival and hope. “But we know this year’s Hanukkah is different.”
Guests at Monday’s reception, which fell on the fifth night of Hanukkah, included Holocaust survivors and members of the Jewish community, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and roughly 20 other lawmakers, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The celebration comes two months after Hamas carried out terrorist attacks in Israel that killed roughly 1,200 people, making it the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust. Thousands of Palestinians have died in subsequent fighting in Gaza.
In addition, there has been a global spike in instances of antisemitism, according to experts and organizations tracking such cases.
“I also recognize you’re hurt from the silence, and the fear and for your safety because the surge of antisemitism in the United States of America and around the world is sickening,” Biden said. “You know, we see it across our communities, and schools, and colleges, and social media. They surface painful scars from millennia of hate.”
Monday’s event came on the same day the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a leading group tracking and fighting antisemitism, reported antisemitic incidents in the United States have increased 337 percent since Hamas launched its deadly attack on Israel more than two months ago.
The ADL reported there have been more than 2,000 antisemitic incidents in the U.S. since the Oct. 7 attacks, the most incidents the ADL has recorded in a two-month period since it started tracking such activity in 1979.
Jewish businesses have faced protests and vandalism, and antisemitic graffiti has been discovered on college campuses since Oct. 7.
Last week major university presidents came under scrutiny after they declined to say if a call for the genocide of Jewish people would be considered harassment under their campus policies. The resulting outcry led to the resignation of the president of the University of Pennsylvania.
In the aftermath of the attacks, Biden has repeatedly expressed support for Israel and the Jewish people. In the days after Oct. 7, Biden visited Israel and noted that the Hamas attacks marked the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust.
The president and other White House officials have in recent weeks urged Israel to minimize civilian casualties as it carries out attacks in Gaza targeting Hamas leaders.
Biden on Monday called his commitment to Israel “unshakeable,” but he added, “they have to be careful. The whole world’s public opinion can shift overnight. We can’t let that happen.”
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This story originally Appeared on The Hill