Obama in Yom Hashoah message cites commitment to combat intolerance


WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama in his Yom Hashoah message recalled his recommitment in Israel last month to combating anti-Semitism and intolerance.

"Today, we honor the memories of the 6 million Jewish victims and millions of others who perished in the darkness of the Shoah," Obama said Monday in a message timed for Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"As we reflect on the beautiful lives lost and their great potential that would never be fulfilled, we also pay tribute to all those who resisted the Nazis’ heinous acts and all those who survived," he said. "On my recent trip to Israel, I had the opportunity to visit Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, and reaffirm our collective responsibility to confront anti-Semitism, prejudice and intolerance across the world."

Obama concluded: "On this Yom Hashoah, we must accept the full responsibility of remembrance, as nations and as individuals — not simply to pledge ‘Never again,’ but to commit ourselves to the understanding, empathy and compassion that is the foundation of peace and human dignity."

In a separate statement, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, noted that the day marked the Hebrew calendar’s anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

"This day is a reminder of all who had the courage to fight back; who refused to allow the inhumanity of the Nazis to deprive them of their own humanity," she said. "It is a reminder of the defiant spirit of the survivors, whose strength and perseverance still inspire us today.  It is a reminder of the righteous among the nations who risked their own lives to protect the lives of their neighbors."

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum announced Monday that the Capitol Rotunda remembrance it organizes each year would take place this year on April 11 and that its theme would be "Never Again: Heeding the Warning Signs."

Eli Rosenbaum, the lead war crimes prosecutor at the Justice Department, will be the main speaker.

"Why did so many countries and individuals fail to respond to the warning signs?" the museum said in its release. "And what can we learn from the few who chose to act, despite widespread indifference?"

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