WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump released on Friday the second International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement of his presidency. This time, however, he mentioned anti-Semitism and the Jews.
“We take this opportunity to recall the Nazis’ systematic persecution and brutal murder of six million Jewish people,” he said for the annual day of remembrance that is marked January 27.
It marked a stark difference from last year, in which he failed mention that six million of the victims of the Holocaust were Jewish.
Trump’s 2017 omission prompted widespread criticism and anger. The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called it “puzzling and troubling,” while the White House rationalized that it was more inclusive of other communities who were also targeted by the Nazi regime.
Trump’s 2018 statement also mentioned the other groups beyond Jews who were victims of the the Holocaust.
“In their death camps and under their inhuman rule, the Nazis also enslaved and killed millions of Slavs, Roma, gays, people with disabilities, priests and religious leaders, and others who courageously opposed their brutal regime,” he said.
Trump went on to mention anti-Semitism, saying that Shoah survivors gave future generations the strength to combat intolerance.
“Our nation is indebted to the Holocaust’s survivors,” he said. “Despite the trauma they carry with them, they continue to educate us by sharing their experiences, strength, wisdom, and generosity of spirit to advance respect for human rights. Although they are aging and their numbers are slowly dwindling, their stories remain with us, giving us the strength to combat intolerance, including anti-Semitism and all other forms of bigotry and discrimination,” he said
Trump’s one-year old presidency has been consumed with controversies surrounding his reluctance to condemn his anti-Semitic supporters, as well as accusations that he is a racist.
Last year’s omission coincided with frequent bomb threats being called into Jewish schools and community centers throughout the country, many of which turned out to be from a teenage Israeli.
This summer, he failed to forcefully denounce a white-supremasict rally the turned deadly in Charlottesville, Virginia. On repeated occasions, he blamed “both sides” for the violence. And during a press conference in the gilded lobby of Trump Tower, he said there were “very fine people” marching alongside neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen.
Most recently, he spurred intense censure for a report in The Washington Post this month that said he referred to African immigrants as coming from “shithole countries.” He also reportedly told his aides he preferred the US to welcome immigrants from countries like Norway, which, unlike African nations, is predominantly white.
On Friday, the president vowed to learn the lessons of Nazi Germany.
“Every generation must learn and apply the lessons of the Holocaust to prevent new horrors against humanity from occurring,” Trump said. “On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we acknowledge this dark stain on human history and vow to never let it happen again.”