White House: ‘No regret’ over omitting Jews from Holocaust Day statement
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White House: ‘No regret’ over omitting Jews from Holocaust Day statement

Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus defends administration, says 'there was no harm or ill-will or offense intended'

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017. (AFP/Saul Loeb)
US President Donald Trump signs an executive order as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus looks on in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 23, 2017. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus said Sunday there is “no regret” in the administration over omitting Jews from its International Holocaust Remembrance statement.

“I don’t know about regret, no there’s no regret,” Priebus told NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.” “We acknowledge the horrible time of the Holocaust and what it meant for history.”

When Todd pressed the former Republican National Committee chair on whether the White House made a mistake by leaving out any reference to Jewish suffering in the Holocaust, Priebus cited Trump’s Jewish ties and reiterated that the administration had no contrition over the statement’s language.

“Certainly we don’t mean any ill will to anybody,” he said. “You know that President Trump has dear family members that are Jewish and there was no harm or ill will or offense intended by any of that.”

He added: “I don’t regret the words, Chuck. I’m trying to clear it up for you. I mean, everyone’s suffering in the Holocaust, including obviously all of the Jewish people affected and the miserable genocide that occurred is something we consider to be extraordinarily sad, and something that can never be forgotten, and something that, if we could wipe it off of the history books, we could, but we can’t.”

“It’s terrible,” Priebus said. “I mean, I don’t know what more to tell you.”

On Friday, the White House released a statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day that didn’t mention Jews, later explaining that this was because Jews were not the only group targeted and murdered by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.

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

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt speaking at the organization’s Never is Now conference in New York City, Nov. 17, 2016. (Courtesy of the ADL)
ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt speaking at the organization’s Never is Now conference in New York City, Nov. 17, 2016. (Courtesy of the ADL)

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt promptly took to Twitter to exclaim that it was “puzzling and troubling” that the 117-word statement did not mention the persecution of the Jewish people, which was central to the Nazi genocide.

Trump’s statement, Greenblatt said, “misses that it was six million Jews who perished, not just ‘innocent people.'”

White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN on Saturday that the statement left out Jews because other groups were also killed. “Despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered,” she said.

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