The omission drew ire from American Jewish groups.
The Trump administration defended its decision to omit any mention of Jews or antisemitism from its statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, noting that Jews were not the only victims of Nazi slaughter.
“Despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered,” Hope Hicks, a communications aide for the president, said in a comment to CNN. In his statement, Donald Trump vowed to stand up against the forces of evil as president.
“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” the US president said in the statement.
“It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.”
The omission drew ire from the Anti-Defamation League, whose CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that it was “Puzzling and troubling @WhiteHouse #Holocaust- MemorialDaystmt has no mention of Jews. GOP and Dem. presidents have done so in the past.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, however, criticized that statement, saying “It does no honor to the millions of Jews murdered in the Holocaust to play politics with their memory.”
Lauder said that any “fair reading” of the White House statement would find that it “appropriately commemorates the suffering and the heroism that mark that dark chapter in modern history.
“There are enough real antisemitism and true threats facing the Jewish people today. Our community gains nothing if we reach a point where manufactured outrages reduce public sensitivity to the real dangers we confront,” Lauder said.
In a interview on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that the Trump administration “obviously” recognizes and abhors what happened to the Jewish people during the Holocaust.
But “I don’t regret the words” used in the statement, Priebus added.
Tim Kaine, a Democratic senator from Virginia and former vice presidential running mate to Hillary Clinton, said it was “not a coincidence” that Trump’s aides dabbled in “Holocaust denial” on the same day that it issued a “religious test” at America’s borders.
“All of these things are happening together,” Kaine said. “When you have the chief political adviser in the White House, Steve Bannon, who is connected with a news organization that traffics in white supremacy and anti-Semitism, and they put out a Holocaust statement that omits any mention of Jews.”