Mon, Jan 30, 2017 - Page 4 News List

White House defends Trump Holocaust statement that did not mention Jews

The Guardian

Holocaust survivors Josiane Traum, left, and Alfred Traum light a memorial candle during an International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington on Friday.

Photo: AFP

The White House has defended its omission of Jews and anti-Semitism from a statement remembering the Holocaust by saying that US President Donald Trump’s administration “took into account all of those who suffered.”

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday, the White House made no mention of Jews, Judaism or the anti-Semitism that fueled Nazi Germany’s mass murder of 6 million Jews in the 1940s.

Anti-Defamation League chief executive Jonathan Greenblatt wondered aloud about the “puzzling and troubling” statement, and its break with the precedent.

Anne Frank Center executive director Steven Goldstein similarly scolded the president: “How can you forget, Mr President, that 6 million Jews were murdered because they were Jews? You chose the vague phrase ‘innocent people.’ They were Jews, Mr President.”

White House representatives did not answer queries about the statement until Saturday, when spokeswoman Hope Hicks forwarded to CNN a link to a Huffington Post article about the millions of people who were killed by Nazis for their ethnicities, sexual orientation, politics or religious beliefs.

“Despite what the media reports [say], we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered,” Hicks told CNN.

In its original statement, the White House said: “It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.”

Trump also pledged in the statement “to do everything in my power throughout my presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good.”

“Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world,” he added.

Past US presidents have made special note of Jewish people, who were singled out for persecution throughout Adolf Hitler’s regime.

In 2015, then-US president Barack Obama condemned “the scourge of anti-Semitism.”

In 2007, then-US president George W. Bush said: “We must continue to condemn the resurgence of anti-Semitism, that same virulent intolerance that led to the Holocaust.”

And in 1993, then-US president Bill Clinton said: “Millions died for who they were, how they worshipped, what they believed, and who they loved. But one people, the Jews, were immutably marked for total destruction.”

In 1985, then-US president Ronald Reagan’s White House apologized even for the perception of omitting the Jewish people from public remarks on the Holocaust, saying: ‘The president is very sensitive to the colossal tragedy of the Jewish population during world war II. He has often said that the Holocaust should never be forgotten.”

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