WASHINGTON (JTA) –President Donald Trump has pledged to combat anti-Semitism and Holocaust denialism, and to defend Israel in a speech marking the national days of Holocaust remembrance.
“Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil,” he said Tuesday, April 24, at the annual ceremony organized by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in the Capitol Rotunda. “And we’ll never be silent—we just won’t. We will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again.”
Trump described 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.”
He pledged to “stamp out prejudice.”
“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,” he said.
The speech and a series of statements Trump has issued in recent days differ from his first week in office, when a Jan. 27 statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day neglected to mention Jews. Trump’s spokesmen subsequently said they were aiming at an “inclusive” statement to cover Jews and non-Jews murdered in the Holocaust, although the term is applied by historians solely to the Jewish genocide.
He proclaimed this week the Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust, ahead of his speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. On Monday, 24, which is observed as Holocaust Remembrance Day, Trump proclaimed April 23-29 to serve as Days of Remembrance for 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 given 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.
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.