On Friday, the same day that he ordered a halt in the entry of persecuted refugees into the United States, President Trump issued a statement on the Holocaust. In a crisp three paragraphs, Trump said, “It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.” He added that “in the name of the perished,” he would work to prevent such a tragedy again.
Pointedly missing from the statement, as was immediately noticed, was any mention of the Jewish people, of whom roughly 6 million were murdered during the Holocaust. The omission was roundly criticized by Jewish groups, and not just mainstream groups like the Anti-Defamation League, though they were also critical. The Republican Jewish Coalition weighed in, too, saying that “The lack of a direct statement about the suffering of the Jewish people during the Holocaust was an unfortunate omission” and adding, “We hope, going forward, he conveys those feelings when speaking about the Holocaust.” The head of the very conservative Zionist Organization of America, which is funded in part by the Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson, was blunter. “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,” Mort Klein said in a statement. (The ZOA kicked up a controversy when it announced that Steve Bannon would attend a dinner it was throwing in November. Bannon then never showed.)