(JTA) — In his first statement about the Holocaust as president, Donald Trump vowed to make “love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world” and made no mention of Jews.
“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” Trump said in a statement on Friday, International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.”
But, he added, “We know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest. As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.”
In the name of the perished, Trump wrote, “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’s omission of Jews follows the commemorative last year by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who came in for criticism by Jewish groups, including the Zionist Organization of America, for delivering a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that similarly failed to mention Jews.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, lamented the omission in Trump’s statement, tweeting, “Puzzling and troubling
@WhiteHouse #HolocaustMemorialDay stmt has no mention of Jews. GOP and Dem. presidents have done so in the past.”
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,” U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement made Thursday in New York that was read out the following day at U.N. 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.”