WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump issued a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day Friday in which he vowed to combat the forces of evil, and called to “make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world,” but failed to mention Jews or anti-Semitism.
The absence of any specific mention of Jews or anti-Semitism was highlighted and criticized by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” the president said. “It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.”
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt promptly took to Twitter to exclaim it was “puzzling and troubling” that the 117-word statement did not specifically cite the persecution of the Jewish people that was central, though not exclusive, to the Nazi genocide.
Trump’s statement, Greenblatt said, “misses that it was six million Jews who perished, not just ‘innocent people.'”
In his statement, Trump vowed to use the power of the presidency to safeguard the world from allowing an atrocity such as the Holocaust to repeat itself.
“In the name of the perished, I pledge 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,” Trump said. “Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.”
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) January 27, 2017
It is not the first time an international leader has failed to mention Jews while honoring the memory of those murdered by Adolf Hitler’s regime.
This year, Trudeau avoided making that a tradition. “Today, on the 72nd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, we remember the more than six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust and the countless other victims of Nazi brutality,” he said.
Trudeau further pledged to use the day of remembrance to “reaffirm our commitment to stand against anti-Semitism, xenophobia and prejudice in all its forms.”
Trump was among several world leaders who devoted statements in memory of Holocaust victims on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which in 2005 the United Nations set for Jan. 27 — the day in 1945 that the Red Army liberated the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. More than 1 million Jews out of the 6 million murdered in the Holocaust were killed there.
“Tragically, and contrary to our resolve, anti-Semitism continues to thrive,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement made Thursday in New York that was read out the following day at UN headquarters in Geneva. “We are also seeing a deeply troubling rise in extremism, xenophobia, racism and anti-Muslim hatred. Irrationality and intolerance are back.”
In Germany, outgoing Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is to become president this year, noted during a speech the political instability in the world today.
“History should be a lesson, warning and incentive all at the same time,” he said. “There can and should be no end to remembrance.”
JTA contributed to this story.