JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Yad Vashem Holocaust museum said in a statement that the Holocaust was “the unprecedented genocide of six million Jews.”
The statement Tuesday by the Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem comes in the wake of a controversy over Friday’s White House statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which failed to mention Jews or anti-Semitism.
“Yad Vashem representatives stressed to all that the Holocaust was the unprecedented genocide of six million Jews, perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, motivated by a radically racist, anti-Semitic ideology, which sought the annihilation of the Jewish people, its culture and its heritage,” the statement from Yad Vashem said in discussing several of the events it held in commemoration of the remembrance day. “The Nazis’ barbaric intent and policy to wipe out an entire people violated the fundamental tenets of human morality, thus making the Holocaust a distinct event of eternal universal significance.
“Yad Vashem emphasizes the imperative to understand the Holocaust in a historically accurate manner, in order to ensure that it remains a perpetually relevant component of human consciousness and discourse throughout the world.”
The statement followed a day after the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum released a statement saying “Millions of other innocent civilians were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, but the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi policy.”
That statement also said: “As Elie Wiesel said, ‘Not all victims were Jews, but all Jews were victims. … The Holocaust teaches us profound truths about human societies and our capacity for evil. An accurate understanding of this history is critical if we are to learn its lessons and honor its victims.”
Jewish critics have said that omitting Jews from Holocaust commemoration statements, wittingly or not, plays into the agenda of groups that seek to diminish the Nazi genocide of the Jews.
Since the controversy over the White House statement erupted, Trump administration spokespeople, including his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, press secretary, Sean Spicer, and spokeswoman Hope Hicks have doubled down on the argument that they chose not single out Jews in order to be “inclusive.”