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Excerpt: "The State Department drafted its own statement last month marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day that explicitly included a mention of Jewish victims, according to people familiar with the matter, but President Donald Trump's White House blocked its release."

Donald Trump. (photo: George Frey/Getty)
Donald Trump. (photo: George Frey/Getty)


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White House Nixed Holocaust Statement Naming Jews

By Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf, Nahal Toosi and Michael Crowley, Politico

03 February 17

 

The State Department wrote a message that recognized Jewish victims, but the White House used its own that didn’t.

he State Department drafted its own statement last month marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day that explicitly included a mention of Jewish victims, according to people familiar with the matter, but President Donald Trump’s White House blocked its release.

The existence of the draft statement adds another dimension to the controversy around the White House’s own statement that was released on Friday and set off a furor because it excluded any mention of Jews. The White House has stood by the statement, defending it as an “inclusive” message that was not intended to marginalize Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

According to three people familiar with the process, the State Department's Office of the Special Envoy on Holocaust Issues prepared its own statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day that, like previous statements, commemorated Jewish victims.

Instead, the White House’s own statement drew widespread criticism for overlooking the Jews' suffering, and was cheered by neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer.

A White House official said there was no ill intent, adding that the White House didn’t see State’s draft until after issuing its own statement and told State not to release its version because it came after 7 p.m. And the official said the White House didn't ask the State Department to craft their own statement.

Officials at the State Department, however, believed the statement was being drafted for the White House to use, people familiar with the matter said.

An official with the Office of the Special Envoy on Holocaust Issues referred a request for comment to the State Department's spokeswoman, who referred the request to the White House.

The White House’s explanations for omitting Jews in its statement haven’t quelled the controversy and in some cases made it worse. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks originally defended the omission to CNN saying, “we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered.” Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said he didn’t regret the wording.

"Everyone's suffering in the Holocaust, including obviously all of the Jewish people affected and the miserable genocide that occurred is something that we consider to be extraordinarily sad and something that can never be forgotten,” Priebus said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday accused critics of “nitpicking” over the statement. He said it was written “with the help of an individual who is both Jewish and the descendent of Holocaust survivors.” A source with knowledge of the situation told POLITICO that person was Trump aide Boris Epshteyn.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) likened Trump’s statement to Holocaust denial. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum implicitly rebuked the White House on Monday, saying, “Millions of other innocent civilians were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis, but the elimination of Jews was central to Nazi policy.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition and the Zionist Organization of America, both funded by influential donor Sheldon Adelson, each also scolded the White House for its Holocaust message.

"The lack of a direct statement about the suffering of the Jewish people during the Holocaust was an unfortunate omission. History unambiguously shows the purpose of the Nazi's final solution was the extermination of the Jews of Europe,” the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Fred Brown said in the statement. “We hope, going forward, he conveys those feelings when speaking about the Holocaust."

“Especially as a child of Holocaust survivors, I and ZOA are compelled to express our chagrin and deep pain at President Trump, in his Holocaust Remembrance Day Message, omitting any mention of anti-Semitism and the six million Jews who were targeted and murdered by the German Nazi regime and others,” the ZOA’s Mort Klein said.

The United Nations designated Jan. 27 International Holocaust Remembrance Day to mark the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

In 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry issued an extensive statement on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau that remembered "the six million Jews and the millions more murdered by the Nazis – including Poles, Roma, LGBT people, persons with disabilities.” Two years earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement that did not explicitly name Jews but forcefully warned against Holocaust denial.

"It is our obligation to stay true to our values and maintain constant vigilance,” she said. "We must never forget that when the checks and balances in government and society that protect fundamental freedoms are lost, the result can be massive atrocities. The United States is committed to a world in which the lessons of the Holocaust are taught and that all human rights are valued so that this will never happen again.”

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+9 # Interested Observer 2017-02-03 11:09
This is ominous.

While Jews do not quite own the Holocaust, but it must be conceded that they have the overwhelming majority position. No proper Holocaust Remembrance statement should fail to explicitly recognize that Jews were the primary target and largest single victim of the Final Solution.

Is Steve Bannon, unable to quite muster up actual denial, concerned about alienating the neo-Nazis among Trump's base?

Political correctness, alt-right style.
 
 
-18 # lnason@umassd.edu 2017-02-03 12:36
My family was half German Protestant and half German Jewish -- both sides had massive fatalities during the war. So the issue is quite familiar to me. I cannot get upset by anything said about the Holocaust anymore.

Trump might well have mentioned Jews explicitly but doing so perhaps gives short shrift to the other half of his victims including Gypsies, Poles, handicapped people, LGBT people, and Slavs. I thus think his more inclusive language was not a bad thing -- it subtly emphasizes the humanity of all Nazi victims rather than focusing on one set of victims at the expense of others.

At any rate, Kaine's response was off-the-wall -- where does all his phony outrage come from? From losing the election perhaps else he might have been as outraged when his running mate made the same omission/inclusion.

Lee Nason
New Bedford, Massachusetts
 
 
+4 # lfeuille 2017-02-03 19:36
Leaving out the Jews was a political statement of some sort. It wasn't necessary to omit the Jews to recognize the other groups that were targeted. It is probably meant as payback for his many anti-Semitic followers, but it somewhat surprises me that his right wing Jewish followers didn't object more. PaulK is absolutely right about Trump being "Israel's very own binky".
 
 
0 # elizabethblock 2017-02-04 22:39
Mainstream Judaism in America, and elsewhere, don't mind anti-Semites as long as they are pro-Israel. The Wiesenthal Centre, which makes it its business to expose anti-Semitism, said nothing.
 
 
+2 # elizabethblock 2017-02-04 22:35
The Nazis tried to eradicate German (and other) Jews. They did not try to eradicate German Protestants.
 
 
+10 # oakes721 2017-02-03 12:54
.
Elimination of History begins with the elimination of names ~ as we're seeing in the Texas textbooks, numbing and dumbing down the potential of our young minds. "Out of Sight, Out of Mind" Transparent excuses with a wink and a nod are no excuse at all, but an acknowledgement of a vengeful return to a wickedly self-centered psychosis-path.
.
 
 
+6 # Robbit 2017-02-03 13:16
It is not often noted that among the victims of the holocaust were Communists, rounded up with the Jews, Roma, disabled and LGBT. Soon to be repeated with other political dissidents in the Trump administration?
 
 
+9 # drdavid 2017-02-03 16:23
The Final Solution refers only to the Nazi determination to exterminate the Jews of Europe. The Holocaust refers only to the Nazi extermination of the Jews, Communists, Roma, LGBT, Jehovah's Witnesses etc. Certainly there have been other genocides, but we ought to keep our terminology straight. For the WH to fail to mention the murder of roughly 6 million Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day strikes me as fascist holocaust denial. Also, to refer to Roma people as "gypsies" is both insulting and mistaken.
 
 
+4 # DongiC 2017-02-03 20:36
At Maijaneck in Lublin. Poland there were two quonset huts containing 182,000 pairs of shoes which the Nazis saved for some reason. I reached through the grate and touched several pairs of these shoes in one building. The feeling of sadness was overwhelming. This camp is one of the best preserved in all of Europe. It is featured in the movie, "The Reader." I agree with #drdavid re the Roma people and the fascist holocaust charge. Bannon is pathetic and has no business in the White House nor a seat on the National Security Council. What in God are we becoming?
 
 
+6 # spenel334 2017-02-03 23:30
and Trump shrugged it off; not his exact words, the Jews were just nitpicking. If that is not anti-Semitism, and maybe it isn't, but it certainly shows a total lack of understanding of the Holocaust and its significance.
 
 
+4 # ericlipps 2017-02-04 08:54
This surprises you why exactly? Trump has shown total ignorance on practically every subject, and complete disinterest in learning more since contrary to reality he thinks he already knows better than everyone else about everything.
 

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