Biden Invokes Texas Synagogue Attack on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

‘From the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, to a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, we are continually and painfully reminded that hate doesn’t go away; it only hides,' the U.S. president said

Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington
File photo of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House, Nov. 30 2021.
File photo of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House, Nov. 30 2021.Credit: Evan Vucci/AP
Ben Samuels
Ben Samuels
Washington

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday invoked this month's attack on a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas in an extensive statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is commemorated on Thursday.

"Today, and every day, we have a moral obligation to honor the victims, learn from the survivors, pay tribute to the rescuers, and carry forth the lessons of last century’s most heinous crime. From the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, to a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, we are continually and painfully reminded that hate doesn’t go away; it only hides," Biden said in a statement. "And it falls to each of us to speak out against the resurgence of antisemitism and ensure that bigotry and hate receive no safe harbor, at home and around the world."

Biden called International Holocaust Remembrance Day "an attempt to fill a piercing silence from our past," noting the 6 million Jews systematically murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, as well as the millions of Roma, Sinti, Slavs, disabled people, LGBTQ+ individuals and political dissidents killed in the Shoah.

"It was a destructive force so unimaginable that it gave rise to an entirely new vocabulary of evil: words like 'holocaust,' 'genocide,' and 'crimes against humanity.' We join with nations of the world to grieve one of the darkest chapters in human history – and to bear witness for future generations so that we can make real our sacred vow: “never again," the president said. He added that this charge is even more urgent as the years go by "as fewer and fewer survivors remain to share their stories of lives lost and lives rebuilt."

Biden implored Americans to "teach accurately about the Holocaust and push back against attempts to ignore, deny, distort, and revise history – as we did this month, when the United States co-sponsored a UN resolution that charged the international community with combating Holocaust denial through education."

Justice must be continually pursued for survivors and their families and aging survivors must have access to the necessary services to live out their lives in dignity, the president stated. "We cannot redeem the past. But, on this day, as we mourn humanity’s capacity to inflict inhuman cruelty, let us commit to making a better future and to always upholding the fundamental values of justice, equality, and diversity that strengthen free societies," he concluded.

Later on Thursday, Biden is due to meet in the Oval Office with survivor Bronia Brandman, who lost her parents and four of her five siblings in the Holocaust.

The observance of International Holocaust Day commemoration, which was established on January 27 to coincide with the anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp in 1945, comes a day after the Biden administration made 12 appointments to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council. They include a new chairman, Stuart Eizenstat, who has led Holocaust reparations negotiations for several administrations; former Anti-Defamation League national director Abraham Foxman; and Leah Pisar, the daughter of the late Samuel Pisar, a Holocaust survivor who wrote extensively about the genocide and was the stepfather of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, marked the day by meeting with Holocaust survivor Ruth Cohen, according to a White House official. Cohen, who was born in Czechoslovakia in 1930, was imprisoned in a number of concentration camps, including Auschwitz, and lost her mother, brother, cousins among other loved ones.

Police in front of the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville Texas on Jan. 16, 2022, a day after the hostage-taking incident there.Credit: Brandon Wade/AP

Harris and Cohen discussed the Biden administration's commitment to combat antisemitism and hatred wherever it exists, the official noted, as well as the importance of staying vigilant and teaching children the truth about the horrors of the Holocaust.

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