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Trump Pledges to “Never Be Silent in the Face of Evil” in Holocaust Remembrance Day Address

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As hate speech directed against Jews continues unabated, the eternal lesson of the Holocaust is that words can ignite the most hideous of infernos

President Trump recalled the memory and legacy of Elie Wiesel. “Though Elie’s story is well known by so many people, it’s always worth repeating. He suffered the unthinkable horrors of the Holocaust. His mother and sister perished in Auschwitz. He watched his father slowly dying before his own young eyes in Buchenwald.”

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC

President Donald Trump on Tuesday vociferously condemned the egregious scourge known as Jew hatred at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance at the US Capitol, promising the audience he will “confront anti-Semitism.”

“I am deeply moved to stand beside people who survived history’s darkest hour. Your cherished presence transforms this place into a sacred gathering,” Trump said, reading from prepared remarks.

He added, “The state of Israel is an eternal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people. 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.”

He continued: “We will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again. Denying the Holocaust is only one of many dangerous forms of anti-Semitism that continues all around the world. This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism. 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 partner and friend, the state of Israel.”

President Trump also paid his respects to the memory of internationally renowned Holocaust author and speaker, the late Elie Wiesel.

“Sadly, this year marks the first Day of Remembrance since the passing of Elie Wiesel, a great person, a great man.  His absence leaves an empty space in our hearts, but his spirit fills this room.  It is the kind of gentle spirit of an angel who lived through hell, and whose courage still lights the path from darkness.  Though Elie’s story is well known by so many people, it’s always worth repeating.  He suffered the unthinkable horrors of the Holocaust.  His mother and sister perished in Auschwitz.  He watched his father slowly dying before his own young eyes in Buchenwald.  He lived through an endless nightmare of murder and death, and he inscribed on our collective conscience the duty we have to remember that long, dark night so as never to again repeat it, “ Trump said.

Speaking to those assembled at the gathering, Trump said, “The survivors in this hall, through their testimony, fulfill the righteous duty to never forget, and engrave into the world’s memory the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people.  You witnessed evil, and what you saw is beyond description, beyond any description.  Many of you lost your entire family, everything and everyone you loved, gone.  You saw mothers and children led to mass slaughter.  You saw the starvation and the torture.  You saw the organized attempt at the extermination of an entire people — and great people, I must add.  You survived the ghettos, the concentration camps and the death camps.  And you persevered to tell your stories.  You tell of these living nightmares because, despite your great pain, you believe in Elie’s famous plea, that “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”  

“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.”

“So today, we remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children whose lives and dreams were stolen from this Earth. We remember the millions of other innocent victims the Nazis so brutally targeted and so brutally killed.  We remember the survivors who bore more than we can imagine.  We remember the hatred and evil that sought to extinguish human life, dignity, and freedom.  But we also remember the light that shone through the darkness.  We remember sisters and brothers who gave everything to those they loved — survivors like Steven Springfield, who, in the long death march, carried his brother on his back.  As he said, “I just couldn’t give in.” 

Trump, whose administration has been plagued with accusations of anti-Semitism, has shown he is particularly sensitive to charges of anti-Semitism in his administration, according to a CNN report.

Asked about the rise of anti-Jewish crimes since his election, Trump told Jake Turx, the senior White House correspondent of the Orthodox Jewish Ami Magazine to “sit down” during a news conference in February before defending himself as “the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”

“I hate the charge. I find it repulsive,” Trump said. “I hate even the question because people that know me — and you heard the Prime Minister, you heard Benjamin Netanyahu, did you hear him, Bibi?”

Bomb threats have been on the rise in the United States and Canada since January, a fact some Jewish groups attribute to Trump’s campaign and presidency.

On Monday, the JTA reported that the White House released a proclamation marking the week-long Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust. Trump’s statement condemned the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews as well as other minorities.

“The Holocaust was the state-sponsored, systematic persecution and attempted annihilation of European Jewry by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. By the end of World War II, six million Jews had been brutally slaughtered,” read the statement, adding that other targeted groups included “Roma (Gypsies), persons with mental and physical disabilities, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Slavs and other peoples of Europe, gays, and political opponents.”

The statement, as well as a pre-recorded speech delivered by Trump to the World Jewish Congress on Sunday, marked an evolution in his rhetoric from just three months ago, when his administration’s remembrance of the Holocaust failed to mention Jews and he seemingly appeared reluctant at first to condemn anti-Semitism.

The Monday statement reiterated U.S. support for Israel.

“We support the Jewish diaspora and the State of Israel as we fulfill our duty to remember the victims, honor their memory and their lives, and celebrate humanity’s victory over tyranny and evil,” the statement said.

Trump’s proclamation also commemorated the U.S and Allied forces’ liberation of Nazi concentration camps.

“During this week in 1945, American and Allied forces liberated the concentration camp at Dachau and other Nazi death camps, laying bare to the world the unconscionable horror of the Holocaust. We must remain vigilant against hateful ideologies and indifference,” his statement said. “Every generation must learn and apply the lessons of the Holocaust so that such horror, atrocity, and genocide never again occur.”

Every president since the museum opened in 1993 has participated in Days of Remembrance events, which were first held in 1979 and later established by Congress as the nation’s commemoration of the Holocaust.

Also Monday, the U.S. National Archives announced that the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, was formally establishing the Henry Morgenthau Jr. Holocaust Collection, a tool to help find Holocaust-related records held by the library.

 By:  Fern Sidman
(CNN & JTA)

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