Biden in Yom Hashoah speech; ‘People already forgetting’ Oct. 7. ‘I have not’.

US President Joe Biden (L) and House Speaker Mike Johnson hold images of Holocaust victims during the annual Days of Remembrance ceremony for Holocaust survivors at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 7, 2024.

President of United States of America, Mr. Joe Biden offered his most forceful condemnation to date of the anti-Israel campus protests on Tuesday, blasting a “ferocious surge” of antisemitism and denial of Hamas’s October 7 atrocities, which have been regular features of the demonstrations that have shaken universities across the country.

“Not 75 years later, but just seven and a half months later, and people are already forgetting, they’re already forgetting that Hamas unleashed this terror, that it was Hamas that brutalized Israelis, that it was Hamas that took and continues to hold hostages,” Biden said in a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual commemoration.

“I have not forgotten, nor have you. And we will not forget,” he added.

The speech came less than a week after Biden offered his first public comments on the protests, in which he defended the pro-Palestinian demonstrators’ right to assemble but slammed the activists for crossing the line into creating “chaos.”

Biden’s support for Israel has alienated many of the campus demonstrators who regularly chant that he is complicit in a “genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza. Young voters were essential to his victory over Donald Trump in 2020 and will likely be just as decisive in what is gearing up to be a similarly neck-and-neck rematch in November.

The anti-Israel campus protests have received a massive amount of media attention, leading many to assume that they are representative of where a majority of college students stand regarding the war in Gaza.

But a majority of the over 2,000 arrested in recent weeks have not actually been college students, and a poll published Tuesday in the Axios news site revealed that just eight percent of students have participated in the protests. The 1,250 respondents ranked the Middle East as the least important among nine other issues they keep in mind while voting.

A more measured understanding of the campus protests may have given Biden the political space to speak out aggressively against them.

“We know scapegoating and demonizing any minority is a threat to every minority,” he said. “There is no place on any campus in America for antisemitism, hate speech or threats of violence of any kind.”

“There’s no place on any campus in America” or any place in America for antisemitism or threats of violence, he added. “We’re not a lawless country — we are a civil society”

In conjunction with Biden’s speech, the White House administration announced new steps to combat antisemitism on college campuses and beyond. The Education Department’s Civil Rights Office sent every school district and college in the nation a letter outlining examples of antisemitism and other hate that could lead to federal civil rights investigations.

The Homeland Security Department moved to educate schools and community groups about resources and funding available to promote campus safety and address threats. The State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism also met with technology companies to discuss combating the rise in hateful content online.

On Monday, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff met with Jewish college students at the White House about the administration’s efforts to combat antisemitism. He heard students describe their own experiences with hatred, including threats of violence and hate speech, his office said.

Biden also spoke out more broadly against antisemitism in his Tuesday speech, which drew comparisons between the Holocaust and October 7, when Hamas-led terrorists invaded Israel, massacring some 1,200 people and taking 252 hostage.

In response, Israel launched a campaign to remove Hamas from power in Gaza, which has taken the lives of over 34,700 Palestinians in the Strip, according to unverifiable figures from Hamas health officials that do not distinguish between gunmen and civilians. Israel says it has killed 13,000 Hamas gunmen in Gaza as well as 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7. Two hundred and sixty-seven IDF soldiers have been killed in the fighting in Gaza and amid operations on the border.

“As Jews around the world still cope with the atrocity and trauma of that day and its aftermath, we’ve seen a ferocious surge of antisemitism in America and around the world,” Biden said.

“‘Never again’ simply translated for me means: Never forget. Never forgetting means we must keep telling the story, we must keep teaching the truth,” Biden said at the US Capitol’s Emancipation Hall. “The truth is we’re at risk of people not knowing the truth.”

“It’s absolutely despicable and it must stop,” he said regarding October 7 denialism. “Silence and denial can hide much but it can erase nothing… it cannot be buried no matter how hard people try.”

“We’re at risk of people not knowing the truth,” Biden said of the horrors of the Holocaust, when 6 million Jews were systematically killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators. “This hatred continues to lie deep in the hearts of too many people in the world.”

Addressing Jewish Americans directly, Biden said, “I see your fear, your hurt and your pain. Let me reassure you as your president you are not alone. You belong — you always have and you always will.”

“My commitment to the safety of the Jewish people, the security of Israel, and its right to exist as an independent Jewish people and Israel is ironclad, even when we disagree,” the president asserted, adding that he was “working around the clock” to secure a hostage deal that would bring about an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza.

US President Joe Biden greets Holocaust survivors during the annual Days of Remembrance ceremony for Holocaust survivors at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 7, 2024.