When I first saw that President Trump had issued a statement for Holocaust Remembrance Day that included no mention of the six million Jews exterminated by the Nazis, I was actually willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I assumed it was the sort of oversight that can occur in the beginning days of a new administration.
It turns out I was being too generous. In fact the Trump administration deliberately left the Jews out of the statement.
The White House statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day didn’t mention Jews or anti-Semitism because “despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered,” administration spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN on Saturday.
Anti-Defamation League Director Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that the “@WhiteHouse statement on #HolocaustMemorialDay, misses that it was six million Jews who perished, not just ‘innocent people'” and “Puzzling and troubling @WhiteHouse #HolocaustMemorialDay stmt has no mention of Jews. GOP and Dem. presidents have done so in the past.”
Asked about the White House explanation that the President didn’t want to exclude any of the other groups Nazis killed by specifically mentioning Jews, Greenblatt told CNN that the United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day not only because of Holocaust denial but also because so many countries — Iran, Russia, Poland, and Hungary, for example — specifically refuse to acknowledge Hitler’s attempt to exterminate Jews, “opting instead to talk about generic suffering rather than recognizing this catastrophic incident for what is was: the intended genocide of the Jewish people.”
I’m reminded of the posts at Harry’s Place over the years about people criticizing the supposed exclusive focus of HRD on the Jews when so many other “holocausts” are happening in the world. Not exactly the same as what Ms. Hicks said, but a little too close for comfort.
And as Josh Marshall points out at Talking Points Memo: “[I]t has long been a trope of Holocaust deniers and white nationalists to insist that Jews were only incidentally targeted.”
Am I convinced (as some are) that Trump’s top adviser Steve Bannon was behind this? No. Would I be shocked to learn that he was? Again, no.
Given all the abuse that Barack Obama took from some of our commenters and others about his alleged hostility to the Jews, I think it’s fair to point out that all of his HRD statements as president mentioned the extermination of the Jews.
In 2015 he said:
On the tenth International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the American people pay tribute to the six million Jews and millions of others murdered by the Nazi regime. We also honor those who survived the Shoah, while recognizing the scars and burdens that many have carried ever since.
In January 2016 Obama spoke at the Israeli embassy in Washington. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. If you have seen it, it’s worth watching again:
Update: White House chief of staff Reince Priebus was reduced to incoherent babbling in an effort to defend the HRD statement.