White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre admitted that she misheard a question Monday when she downplayed the rise of antisemitism and pointed to Muslim-Americans being targeted instead.
Jean-Pierre was asked about President Joe Biden’s ‘level of concern’ about a potential rise in antisemitism due to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
The press secretary answered that she had not seen ‘any credible threats’ and then pointed out that ‘Muslim and those perceived to be Muslim have endured a disproportionate number of hate fueled attacks.’
The remark that drew criticism from a number of Jewish members of Congress.
‘I misheard the question,’ Jean-Pierre said in a statement to multiple news outlets. ‘As I have footstomped many times from the podium and on the air, antisemitism is an abomination that this president has fought against his entire life; and I feel strongly about that work.’
At the top of Tuesday’s briefing, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre slammed antisemitism. In a statement to media outlets, Jean-Pierre said she had misheard a question when she downplayed the rise of antisemitism on Monday
Democratic Florida Rep. Jared Moskowitz nailed Jean-Pierre on X Monday for her answer calling it ‘weak’ and asking why she needed to page through her briefing book to say the rise of antisemitism was a concern
‘That’s why, in the briefing room, I have blasted the repulsive increase in antisemitic rhetoric, conspiracy theories, and hate crimes in our nation, calling out that, tragically, this is a rising threat,’ she added.
She made a show of that Tuesday by opening the briefing with a condemnation of antisemitism.
‘I want to make something clear at the top because I understand how important moral clarity is especially at this time,’ she said.
‘So when Jews are targeted because of their beliefs or their identity, when Israel is singled out because of anti-Jewish hatred, that is antisemitism and that is unacceptable,’ she said. ‘There is no place for antisemitism full stop, period.’
‘This is important to the president, it is important to me personally and to everyone in the administration,’ the press secretary added.
She said that following Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel ‘the president has been consistent and clear.’
‘We must all do our part and forcefully, forcefully speak out against antisemitism,’ she said.
Biden dedicated a portion of his Thursday night Oval Office address to combating hatred in America.
‘Not against Jews, not against Muslims, not against Arab-Americans, not against Palestinian -mericans, not against anyone,’ she said. ‘So wanted to start there today,’ Jean-Pierre added, not including the mea culpa in her official remarks.
Monday’s gaffe had Democratic Florida Rep. Jared Moskowitz incensed.
‘What a weak answer. And why are you looking in the book? What’s the approved answer?’ he posted on X.
Jean-Pierre had been leafing through her briefing book when delivering her response Monday.
‘The simple answer is yes, you are concerned about the rise of antisemitism. Of course we are also worried about hatred against Muslim Americans,’ Moskowitz said. ‘Must do better.’
Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on CNN Monday that Jean-Pierre’s answer was ‘clearly a whiff,’ but said Biden – who traveled to Tel Aviv Wednesday – ‘could not possibly be standing more strongly with Israel.’