U.S. President Donald Trump addressed the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual Days of Remembrance event on Tuesday, saying that he was "deeply moved to stand before those who survived history's darkest hour."
"The State of Israel is an eternal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people," he added. "The fervent dream that burned in the hearts of the oppressed is now filled with the breath of life and the Star of David waves atop a great nation arisen from the desert."
"The survivors in this hall through their testimony fulfill the righteous duty to never forget and to engrave into the world's memory the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people," Trump said.
Speaking of the need to bear witness, Trump said that "that is why we are here today, to remember and to bear witness. To make sure that humanity never ever forgets. The Nazis massacred six million Jews. Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide. Millions more people were imprisoned and executed by the Nazis without mercy. Without even a sign of mercy."
"Yet even today there are those who want to forget the past. Worse still, there are even those filled with such hate, total hate, that they want to erase the Holocaust from history. Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil and we'll never be silent, we just won't, we will never ever be silent in the face of evil again."
"Denying the Holocaust is only one of many forms of dangerous anti-Semitism that continues all around the world. We've seen anti-Semitism on university campuses, in the public square, and in threats against Jewish citizens. Even worse, it's been on display in the most sinister manner when terrorists attack Jewish communities or when aggressors threaten Israel with total and complete destruction.
"This is my pledge to you – we will confront anti-Semitism," Trump said to a round of applause. "We will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bear witness and we will act. As president of the United States, I will always stand with the Jewish people and I will always stand with our great friend and partner, the State of Israel."
On Sunday evening, Trump delivered a video message to the World Jewish Congress plenary assembly in New York in which he declared, "On Yom Hashoah, we look at the darkest chapter of human history. We mourn, we remember, we pray and we pledge: Never again."
Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, visited on Tuesday the official Holocaust memorial site in the German capital. Early last month, she paid a private visit to the Holocaust museum in Washington with her husband, Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to the president.
The visits by the president and his daughter to Holocaust memorial sites come just three-and-a-half weeks after a controversy broke when White House press secretary Sean Spicer said that Adolf Hitler did not use gas to murder his own people, and called the Nazi concentration camps “holocaust centers.” Spicer later apologized for these remarks, and it appears that the administration will try to use Tuesday’s events in Washington and in Berlin to fix the damages.
Trump's speech won praise from the Anti-Defamation League, which has been critical of the president in recent months over his tackling of anti-Semitism.
"Deeply moving words," ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted following the speech. He added that he now hopes Trump "will honor memory of martyrs and pursue policies that respect pluralism."
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation's largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, welcomed the remarks delivered by Trump.
"We deeply appreciate President Trump's heartfelt remarks today commemorating the Holocaust and honoring the memory of the six million Jewish people mercilessly killed by the Nazi regime," Orthodox Union President Mark Bane said. "The president's pledge to confront anti-Semitism and condemn prejudice and hatred comes at an important time for the Jewish community in the United States and across the world."
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also released a statement praising Trump's remarks. "We welcome the president’s pledge to actively confront anti-Semitism and his commitment to combat prejudice and hatred in all its ugly forms.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition, the leading Jewish group in the Republican Party, shared parts of Trump's speech on its social media accounts, and said before the speech began that it would allow Trump an opportunity to put the "absurd notion that he is soft on anti-Semitism" to rest.
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