Thousands of American Jews have signed a petition challenging the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s invitation to US President Donald Trump to deliver the keynote remarks Tuesday during the National Days of Remembrance.
Launched Monday by Bend the Arc, a Jewish group that advocates for social justice causes, the petition by the following morning had almost 8,000 signatures.
“President Trump’s administration has repeatedly insulted the memory of the Holocaust, and embraced the agenda and rhetoric of white nationalism and anti-Semitism. So how can the US Holocaust Museum invite him to deliver the keynote remarks at the National Day of Remembrance?” the petition asks. “Jews across the country are outraged by this bizarre and unacceptable choice.
“While we recognize the longstanding tradition of American presidents giving remarks at this ceremony, this is not a normal president and this is not a normal moment. It is an insult to the memories of survivors, descendants, and allies that he would speak on this sacred day.”
The remarks to be delivered Tuesday in the US Capitol rotunda are among the events for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual Days of Remembrance, which are being observed April 23-29 this year. Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, was observed in Israel on Monday.
Every president since the museum opened in 1993 has participated in Days of Remembrance ceremonies.
The Trump administration came under fire in January for its statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day that omitted a specific mention of Jews.
Earlier this month, White House press secretary Sean Spicer apologized for saying that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons in a discussion of Syrian leader Bashar Assad and calling Nazi concentration camps “Holocaust centers.”
On Monday, in a proclamation marking the week-long Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust, Trump described how “six million Jews had been brutally slaughtered,” and pledged to support the “Jewish diaspora and the State of Israel as we fulfill our duty to remember the victims, honor their memory and their lives, and celebrate humanity’s victory over tyranny and evil.”
On Sunday night, in a prerecorded video, Trump paid extended tribute to the memory of the Holocaust and to Israel in a speech to the World Jewish Congress.
If both statements represented an evolution in the White House’s statements on the Holocaust, they did not move Bend the Arc or its petitioners.
The petition continues: “Just as crucial, Trump’s demonization of immigrants and Muslims, his denigration of the press, his attacks on the judicial system and other actions that seek to undermine the institutions that protect our civil society, coupled with his ongoing admiration for authoritarian leaders, illustrate both his failure to learn the painful lessons of the Shoah and his contempt for the most fundamental democratic, Jewish and American values.”
The Days of Remembrance observance was first held in 1979 and later established by Congress as the nation’s commemoration of the Holocaust.