Some Orthodox Jewish leaders have cried foul after they say they were barred from attending a White House summit about hate crimes against minority groups.
On September 15, the Biden administration hosted a hate crime summit called “United We Stand.” Though Rev. Al Sharpton originally requested the summit after 10 black people were murdered in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, back in May, the summit was pitched as a means of publicly condemning hate crimes in all forms, including anti-Semitic attacks.
During his speech at the summit, President Joe Biden condemned the “anti-Semitic bile” uttered by white supremacists at the Charlottesville clash in 2017. He also claimed that a “through-line of hate” is endemic to American culture and that this hateful American instinct manifests in attacks against ethnic minorities, such as Mexicans and Chinese, and religious minorities, including Catholics, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, and Jews.
Despite these professions of support for persecuted Jews, several notable Orthodox Jewish leaders say they weren’t welcome at United We Stand. Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce CEO Duvi Honig said that he attempted to contact administration officials three times to secure his place, but that no one ever responded to his requests.
Honig does not believe that the silence he received from the administration was a mere oversight.
“The question is, is [Biden] punishing the Orthodox community for supporting [former President Donald] Trump?” Honig asked.
“The White House used hate,” Honig added. “They used us, our blood — they used our DNA of Jews being persecuted and attacked daily as an excuse to make an event and didn’t include Orthodox Jews, who were the number one [target of] hate and anti-Semitism.”
Honig is not the only Orthodox Jew who was not permitted to attend the event, either. Four Orthodox Jewish journalists from Ami magazine say they were similarly denied entry due to “spacing constraints.” The White House claims there were only 40 press spots available total and that 50 applicants were vying for the 20 spots not already taken by members of the daily press pool.
Though it is unclear whether the White House actually denied the accusation that it had deliberately barred Orthodox Jews from United We Stand, according to the New York Post, the White House did point out that Orthodox Union leader Nathan Diament and panelist Joseph Borgen both attended the event and that Rabbi Moshe Hauer was invited but could not be there due to a scheduling conflict. Several other Reformed and Conservative Jews attended the event, including Jewish Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
However, Honig seems to view these Jewish representatives as the exceptions that prove the rule. “One person trickled in!” he said derisively in reference to Diament. He also noted that Reformed Jews are less likely to face persecution since they often do not wear apparel, such as a yarmulke, that would mark them as Jewish.
Still, Jake Turx, one of the four Ami journalists kept from the event, was satisfied with the explanations given by the White House.
“I’m relieved that we were able to reach an understanding,” Turx said in a statement to the New York Post. “The Jewish people have enough enemies as is. Thankfully the White House press shop isn’t on that list.”