There were memorials around the world on Monday for the Jewish observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known in Hebrew as Yom HaShoah. In Israel, two minutes of silence are observed at 10 a.m. when an air raid siren sounds and everyone stops whatever they’re doing. It’s quite a sight to see cars stop in the middle of the freeway as their drivers get out to stand in silent tribute to the six million who were murdered. As the son of two people who fought in the Dutch underground during World War II, I find this silent observance moving.
Not silent on Jewish issues for once was Donald Trump, who delivered a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The speech had many fine attributes, but we would be right to be skeptical. Too much of what comes out of his mouth is untruthful, insincere and self-serving. To promise to protect our Jewish citizens after months of dismissal and the continued employ of known anti-Semites Steven Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, seems disingenuous. Nor does he support the cause of preventing anyone else from suffering the fate of the Jews, Romani, homosexuals and other victims of the Nazis. His reaction to the most recent judicial rulings on sanctuary cities and his lack of action against the horrific purging of gay men in Chechnya makes his rhetoric of “never again” ring hollow.
Perhaps Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect put it best in his “report card” on Trump’s speech:
Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect’s
on the President’s Holocaust Remembrance speech today
Commentary below by Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect.
1. Recognition of the Holocaust as a Jewish genocide. Grade A.
The president gave the clearest speech of his presidency in discussing the impact of the Holocaust on the Jewish people, a sharp contrast with his administration’s repeated refusal to include Jews on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
2. Recognition of the rise of #Antisemitism in America. Grade C.
The president acknowledged the rise more than he has in any past speech. But he refrained from pointing out that Antisemitism on his watch has increased dramatically – by 86 percent in 2017, according to the ADL. He also did nothing to address the presence in his Administration of Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, both with Antisemitic pasts.
3. A plan to stop Antisemitism and other hate. Grade D.
The president mentioned his resolve to stop the Antisemitism, but he offered no plan. Organizations including the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect have presented the president various plans to address Antisemitism and other hate. The president missed a golden opportunity today. #NeverAgain is not just a slogan about the past, but a call to action for the future.
4. A vow to learn from history by not repeating President Franklin Roosevelt's tragic mistake in denying refugees entrance into the United States. Grade F.
The president said nothing. Who will be the next Anne Frank to die among the refugees his plan would deny entrance into the United States?
Photo credit: Newsweek/Reuters