As Holocaust Remembrance Day was marked in Israel Monday, US President Barack Obama issued a statement mourning the six million Jews “senselessly murdered” by the Nazis during World War II and vowing to oppose anti-Semitism “wherever it takes root.”
Using the Hebrew name for Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah, Obama said he joined “people of all faiths in the United States, in the State of Israel, and around the world” in remembering the “innocent men, women and children” who were victims of the Nazi genocide.
Vowing to oppose anti-Semtism everywhere and to “give enduring meaning to the words ‘Never Again,’” Obama also mourned the many other victims of the Nazis’ “brutality and violence.”
There was also a note of optimism in Obama’s message, which said the day of mourning also provided an opportunity to celebrate those survivors who “emerged from the darkness of the Shoah to rebuild their lives in new communities around the world.”
The US president also said he would be “honored” to address Holocaust survivors and those working to preserve and share their testimonies at the University of Southern California (USC) Shoah Foundation’s 20th-anniversary gala event.
At the event, which will be held on May 7, Shoah Foundation founder and renowned “Schindler’s List” director Steven Spielberg will present Obama with the organization’s highest award, the title of “ambassador for humanity.”
“President Obama’s commitment to democracy and human rights has long been felt,” Spielberg said last month in a statement announcing the foundation’s decision to honor Obama.
“As a constitutional scholar and as president, his interest in expanding justice and opportunity for all is remarkably evident. The president’s recent appointment of the first special envoy for Holocaust Survivor Services in United States history demonstrates his staunch commitment to honoring the past while building a better future,” he said.
Obama’s statement came as Holocaust Remembrance Day was marked in Israel, but not in the United States.
Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day separately from the rest of the world, which observes it on January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau by the Red Army. In Israel, the date – a week after Passover – commemorates the start of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.