NEW YORK - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday attempted to make amends for his administration's various blunders concerning the Holocaust, releasing a new statement for Yom Hashoah, the day designated in 1953 by the State of Israel to commemorate the Holocaust.
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Trump delivered a video message to the World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly in New York, broadcasted during the opening events in front of more than 600 Jewish community leaders from around the world and guests, and keynote speaker UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
“On Yom Hashoah, we look back at the darkest chapter of human history. We mourn, we remember, we pray, and we pledge: Never again. I say it, never again”, said Trump, using the Hebrew name for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“The mind cannot fathom the pain, the horror, and the loss. Six million Jews, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe, murdered by the Nazi genocide. They were murdered by an evil that words cannot describe, and that the human heart cannot bear. On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, we tell the stories of the fathers, mothers and children, whose lives were extinguished and whose love was torn from this earth. We also tell the stories of courage in the face of death, humanity in the face of barbarity, and the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.”
In typical fashion, Trump also mentioned that WJC President Ronald Lauder predicted his victory, thanking him for his support in the beginning of the address. “First, I want to thank Ronald Lauder, not only for his many years of friendship - and he truly has been my good friend, he even predicted early that I was going to win the presidency - but also for his leadership of this organization. He has done a fantastic job”.
Trump's statement is an attempt to make amends for various glaring blunders of the Trump administration in its public statements about the Holocaust. In January, Trump released a statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, decrying the "horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror," but failing to specifically mention either anti-Semitism or Jews. The statement was met with criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and others in the Jewish community for not containing any clear reference to Jews.
Two weeks ago, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer created a media storm when he suggested Syrian President Bashar Assad was guilty of acts worse than Hitler, claiming that Hitler had not used chemical weapons.
"We had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn't even sink to using chemical weapons," Spicer said, ignoring the use of gas chambers at concentration camps during the Holocaust. When he tried to clarify his comments, Spicer referred to death camps as "Holocaust centers.”
In the video, Trump also pledged to fight anti-Semitism, saying that the State of Israel is a symbol of the Jewish resilience and quoting Theodor Herzl.
"Today, only decades removed from the Holocaust, we see a great nation risen from the desert and we see a proud Star of David waving above the State of Israel. That star is a symbol of Jewish perseverance. It’s a monument to unyielding strength. We recall the famous words attributed to Theodor Herzl: If you will, it is no dream. If you will it, it is no dream. Jews across the world have proved the truth of these words day after day. In the memory of those who were lost, we renew our commitment and our determination not to disregard the warnings of our own times."
“We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found. We must defeat terrorism, and we must not ignore the threats of a regime that talks openly of Israel’s destruction. We cannot let that ever even be thought of. To all of you tonight, who have come from around the world, let it be known, America stands strong with the State of Israel." These remarks come after Trump again hinted that the United States may withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.