Photo Credit: Erin Scott / White House
US Vice President Kamala Harris looks on as President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a reception for new members of Congress on Jan. 24, 2023, in the East Room of the White House.

US President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House on Thursday that while free speech is protected in America, “violent protest is not.”

Speaking about the massive antisemitic hate demonstrations that have shut down multiple Ivy League university campuses across the country in recent weeks, the president declared, “Antisemitism has no place in America” — but made certain to maintain the traditional moral equivalence of the White House, adding there is also no place for Islamophobia.


Following is the transcript of the president’s remarks, including his responses to two brief questions from the reporters gathered for the briefing.

“Good morning. Before I head to North Carolina I wanted to speak a few moments about what’s going on on our college campuses here.

We’ve all seen the images, and they put to the test two fundamental American principles; the first is the right to free speech and for people to peacefully assemble and make their voices heard. The second is the rule of law; both must be upheld.

We are not an authoritarian nation where we silence people or squash dissent. The American people are heard; in fact, peaceful protest is in the best tradition of how Americans respond to consequential issues.

But neither are we a lawless country; we are a civil society and order must prevail.

Throughout our history we’ve often faced moments like this because we are a big, diverse, freethinking and freedom loving nation.

In moments like this there are always those who rush in to score political points. But this isn’t a moment for politics — it’s a moment for clarity.

So let me be clear: peaceful protest in America, violent protest is not protected; peaceful protest is.

It’s against the law when violence occurs.

Destroying property is not a peaceful protest. It’s against the law.

Vandalism, trespassing, breaking windows, shutting down campuses, forcing the cancellation of classes and
graduations — none of this is a peaceful protest.

Threatening people, intimidating people, instilling fear in people is not peaceful protest — it’s against the law.

Dissent is essential to democracy but dissent must never lead to disorder or to denying the rights of others so that students can’t finish the semester and their college education.

Look: it’s basically a matter of fairness, it’s a matter of what’s right. There’s the right to protest but not the right to cause chaos.

People have the right to get an education, the right to get a degree, the right to walk across the campus safely without fear of being attacked.

But let’s be clear about this as well: there should be no place on any campus, no place in America for antisemitism or threats of violence against Jewish students.

There is no place for hate speech or violence of any kind, whether it’s antisemitism, Islamophobia or discrimination against Arab Americans or Palestinian Americans — it’s simply wrong.

There’s no place for racism in America; it’s all wrong, it’s

I understand people have strong feelings and deep convictions in America — we respect the right and protect the right for them to express that. But it doesn’t mean anything goes.

It needs to be done without violence, without destruction, without hate and within the law.

You know, make no mistake; as president I will always defend free speech and I will always be just as strong and standing up for the rule of law. That’s my responsibility to you, the
American people, and my obligation to the Constitution.

Thank you very much.

Q: Mr. President, have the protests forced you to reconsider any of the policies with regard to the region?

A: No.

Q: Mr. President, do you think the National Guard should intervene?

A: No.”


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.