Sunday, January 29, 2017

Trump's Holocaust message deliberately ignores that Jews were targeted - "to be more inclusive"

Facing growing criticism for failing to mention Jews in a statement marking the Holocaust, the Trump administration on Sunday doubled down on the controversial decision.

In a statement on Friday, President Trump broke with the bipartisan practice of past presidents by failing to include any mention of the anti-Semitic views that fueled the Holocaust and left 6 million Jews and millions of others dead.

“I don’t regret the words,” said White House chief of staff Reince Priebus when asked to defend the statement on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on Sunday.

“Everyone’s suffering [in] the Holocaust including obviously all of the Jewish people affected and miserable genocide that occurs — it’s something that we consider to be extraordinarily sad,” Priebus added.

Trump’s 117-word statement was issued on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Trump remembered “the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust” without specifically mentioning Jewish people. [...]

On Sunday, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) sharply criticized the White House for deploying a well-known tactic of Holocaust deniers.

“This is what Holocaust denial is,” Kaine said on NBC. “It’s either to deny that it happened or many Holocaust deniers acknowledge, ‘Oh yeah people were killed, but it was a lot of innocent people; Jews weren’t targets.’ ”

Conservative commentator John Podhoretz slammed the White House’s defense of its actions in a column on Saturday, noting that Nazi ideology rested on the aim of exterminating Jewish people from the face of earth.

“The Nazis killed an astonishing number of people in monstrous ways and targeted certain groups — Gypsies, the mentally challenged, and open homosexuals, among others,” Podhoretz wrote. “But the Final Solution was aimed solely at the Jews. The Holocaust was about the Jews.

“There is no ‘proud’ way to offer a remembrance of the Holocaust that does not reflect that simple, awful, world-historical fact,” he added. “To universalize it to ‘all those who suffered’ is to scrub the Holocaust of its meaning.” [...]

n a speech on Friday in Washington, the Israeli ambassador to the United States warned against separating the history of the Holocaust from the Jewish people.

“For many, the Holocaust is primarily a universal story about man’s inhumanity to man, about the evils of racism and xenophobia, about how even the most enlightened societies can descend into darkness and barbarism,” said Ambassador Ron Dermer. “But if this noble universal vision is not firmly rooted in an appreciation that the Holocaust is first and foremost a Jewish story, it can become not only dangerous but even immoral.”

The tactic of minimizing the impact of the Holocaust on Jewish people is also closely associated with nationalist movements in Europe, including the far-right National Front Party in France now led by Marine Le Pen, whose father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was fined for Holocaust denial.[...]

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