Regular readers know that I am a HUGE supporter of President Trump. However, when he’s wrong, good reporting requires the president and his administration get a swift kick in the assets. The administration’s statement commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day last Friday, which omitted any mention of the Jewish people, was stupid and insensitive. Worse was fact that the administration has been doubling down on the omission ever since.
When first noticing the “de-Jewdification” of the Holocaust on Friday, my reaction was that it must have been an accident, a rush job and somebody screwed up. And then White House spokesperson Hope Hicks announced:
“Despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered. … It was our honor to issue a statement in remembrance of this important day.”
As Commentary Editor John Podhoretz wrote about Hicks comment on Saturday night:
“The Nazis killed an astonishing number of people in monstrous ways and targeted certain groups—Gypsies, the mentally challenged, and open homosexuals, among others. 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. To universalize it to ‘all those who suffered’ is to scrub the Holocaust of its meaning.”
On Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said the administration had no regrets about failing to mention the Jews. He added that Friday’s statement was crafted to recognize all victims of the Holocaust. Sorry Reince, but as the late great Elie Wiesel used to say, “While not all victims were Jews, all Jews were victims.”
On Monday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer had a go at it. When reminded that even the Republican Jewish Coalition criticized the president for the Judenrein Holocaust statement, Spicer lashed out. He explained that Trump’s record of defending Israel speaks for his allegiance to the Jewish people.
“It is pathetic that people are picking on his statement,” he said. “I mean, the idea that you’re nitpicking a statement that sought to remember this tragic event that occurred, and the people who died in it, is just ridiculous. I think he acknowledged the suffering that existed and wants to make sure that it’s enshrined in the American people’s memory, so that something like this never ever happens again.”
President Trump is a big supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel, and Jews, especially conservative ones like yours truly, appreciate his support. However, that support does not mean he should not be criticized when he (or his staff) takes an action, or releases a statement, that is just plain wrong. I am disappointed that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law whose grandparents are Holocaust survivors, hasn’t chimed in since Friday’s statement was made. (Some believe that Kushner wrote or approved the statement. Spicer said the statement was written “with the help of an individual who is both Jewish and the descendants of Holocaust survivors.” Asked if it was Kushner, Spicer refused to say.)
The Jew-less statement feeds into the Holocaust revisionism which denies the uniqueness of the Holocaust and the Jews being singled out for extermination. Today all across the world Holocaust deniers and European nationalists seek to downplay the fact that the Jews were targeted for genocide, and try to focus instead on the suffering of non-Jewish Poles, Lithuanians, Germans, French and others, with the Jews being just another group.
Of course, there was suffering and heroism of non-Jews during the Holocaust. But only the Jews were singled out for complete annihilation as a race worldwide by the Nazis. Hitler placed the genocide of the Jewish people throughout the world as a central goal the Third Reich. It was right up there with conquering the world.
I am not suggesting that the Administration was purposely trying to feed Holocaust revisionism, but that will be the result of its error.
Speaking at the Holocaust Memorial in Washington on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer said, “After the Holocaust took away so much from the Jews, we must not take the Holocaust itself away from the Jews.”
The Trump administration statement on Holocaust Memorial Day displayed a total lack of understanding of this horrible period in history. The doubling down of by members of the administration made it even worse — and the fact that the Trump administration is very supportive of Israel and the Jewish people does not correct the error.