Anti-Semitic poster hung at Kansas State U on Holocaust Remembrance Day

(JTA) — An anti-Semitic poster was hung on the campus of Kansas State University on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The poster was discovered on the morning of April 24 on a telephone pole, the local Manhattan Mercury reported.

“Ending white privilege starts with ending Jewish privilege,” said the poster, which contained a graphic of a pyramid of people. “Is the 1 percent straight white men? Or is it Jewish?”

The poster was removed late in the morning after the university learned about it through social media, according to the Mercury.

Kansas State police are investigating the incident.

President Richard Myers in a statement responding to the incident noted that in recent weeks, other minorities on campus have been targeted, including fliers against the LGBTQ community and African-Americans.

“These few, random incidents should be kept in perspective,” Myers wrote. “The K-State family is committed to diversity and inclusion and should not be influenced by these isolated incidents. We don’t know who has distributed these missives, or why. But we do know they don’t represent the values of the K-State family.”

The university, which is located in Manhattan, Kansas, has a total enrollment of nearly 25,000.

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EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT (WHITE FREEMASON) URGES POST-HOLOCAUST RESTITUTION PROGRESS

 

http://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/European-Parliament-president-urges-post-Holocaust-restitution-progress-489067

 

European Parliament President Antonio Tajani on Wednesday urged European countries to step up efforts to ensure the return of property and possessions seized from Jewish victims during the Holocaust.

Speaking at the opening of an international conference in Brussels titled “Unfinished Justice: Restitution and Remembrance,” Tajani stressed the importance of restitution.

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Declaring that restitution across Europe was still challenged by legal and technical problems, leaving victims without their property, Tajani said: “Restitution, together with remembrance and reconciliation, is a fundamental element to restore justice after the Holocaust.

“The European Parliament has called on the [European] Commission to develop common principles and guidelines,” he added, highlighting that the 2009 Terezin Declaration provides a clear reference point for restitution and a commitment for all European countries.

Forty-seven countries, including all 28 members of the European Union, approved the Terezin Declaration, which recognizes “the importance of restituting or compensating Holocaust-related confiscations made during the Holocaust era between 1933-45.”

According to the World Jewish Restitution Organization, only a small fraction of private and communal property illegitimately seized from Jewish victims during the Holocaust has been returned or compensated.

WJRO also emphasized that, of the remaining 500,000 survivors alive today, up to half are estimated to live in poverty.

“Progress has been made over the last years. Some countries have done a lot and have even developed best practices. Others should do more,” Tajani said.

The European Shoah Legacy Institute – which commissioned a comprehensive study on the status of restitution in each of the countries that endorsed the Terezin Declaration – called out Poland as being the only country that has yet to enact legislation dealing with restitution or compensation of private property nationalized by the Polish postwar Communist regime.

The conference was hosted by the European Parliament and organized by the European Alliance for Holocaust Survivors, a coalition of members of the European Parliament committed to issues impacting Holocaust survivors, the WJRO and ESLI, together with the European Jewish Congress and B’nai B’rith International. The permanent missions of the State of Israel, the Czech Republic, and the United Kingdom to the European Union and their respective foreign ministries were also partners in the conference.

During the conference, members of the European Parliament called on the European Commission and all member states to each appoint special envoys for Holocaust-related issues, including restitution, to accelerate activities aimed at securing justice for victims.

Gideon Taylor, chairman of operations for the World Jewish Restitution Organization, praised Tajani’s announcement as a “significant step toward helping Holocaust survivors achieve justice regarding confiscated property.

“The support of the European Parliament sends a strong signal about the importance of fulfilling the pledges countries made under the Terezin Declaration,” he said. “Countries have a moral obligation to ensure that workable property restitution laws are put in place, and we hope that they will respond by reaffirming their commitment to providing justice for the remaining survivors, their families and Jewish communities as a matter of urgency.”

Polish-born British Holocaust survivor Ben Helfgott also emphasized the importance of the issue, saying that “committing to a substantial, broad and coordinated program of restitution goes some way to recognizing the suffering, anguish and torment that occurred directly to those Jews present at the time, and the damage it caused for generations afterwards.”

The conference was attended by members of the European Parliament, diplomats, leaders of international Jewish organizations and European Jewish communities as well as Holocaust survivors.

TRUMP: THOSE WHO DENY HOLOCAUST ARE ACCOMPLICE TO EVIL

 

NEW YORK – Those who deny the Holocaust are accomplices to this horrible evil, US President Donald Trump said in a powerful keynote speech to the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Days of Remembrance ceremony held in the capitol on Tuesday.

“Denying the Holocaust is only one of many forms of dangerous antisemitism that continue all around the world,” he said. “This is my pledge to you: we will confront antisemitism, we will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bare witness and we will act. We will never ever be silent in the face of evil again.”

 

The week-long memorial event at the museum, which will end on Sunday, was first held in 1979 and then later established by Congress as a time for civic commemorations and special educational programs that help citizens remember and draw lessons from the Holocaust. By speaking at the annual ceremony, Trump joined a decadeslong tradition of presidents taking part in the event.

“I’m deeply moved to stand before those who survived history’s darkest hour,” the president told the many Holocaust survivors in the room. “You survived the ghettos, the concentration camps and the death camps, and you persevered to tell your stories.”

As president of the United States, Trump pledged to “always stand with the Jewish people” and with Israel.

“The State of Israel is an eternal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people,” he added. “The fervent dream that burned in the hearts of the oppressed is now filled with the breath of life and the star of David waves atop a great nation arisen from the desert.”

Many in the Jewish community had been skeptical ahead of Tuesday’s speech. The president has been criticized for his handling of antisemitism and the relationship with the community.

In January, Trump gave a speech for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which omitted any mention of the Jewish people and most recently, earlier this month, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had to publicly apologize for saying that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons in the Holocaust.

In Tuesday’s address, Trump also paid tribute to survivor Elie Weisel, who past away last July, pointing out that this year marks the first remembrance of the Holocaust without him. “His absence leaves an empty space in our heart, but his spirit fills this room,” the president said.

As in every year, six candles were lit by Holocaust survivors, each accompanied by a member of Congress, in memory of the victims. The annual observance also recognized the American troops who liberated the Nazi concentration camps by opening with a procession of flags from each of the US Army divisions that were involved.

The unknown story of Moroccan Holocaust survivors

MONTREAL — Montreal engineer Sam Edery has a special copper menorah at home, passed down to him from his grandfather, who was the jeweler in the court of King Mohammed V of Morocco during World War II.

Edery says his grandfather made the menorah while the king was meeting with representatives from Vichy France and Nazi Germany to discuss the Jewish question.

“My grandfather knew [about the meeting] because he was a jeweler and he often went to the royal palace. He made the menorah because it represents the miracle of Hanukkah and [the discussions] happened in November or December, around that time,” Edery said.

Not long afterwards, Mohammed V allegedly told the Nazis, “There are no Jewish citizens, there are no Muslims citizens, they are all Moroccans.”

“For my grandfather, it was like a miracle. I think a miracle happened because the king refused to collaborate,” said Edery.

Indeed, the Jews of Morocco were saved. Although Morocco was a French protectorate and France’s Vichy regime was complicit in the murder of French Jews, not a single Jew living in Morocco was sent to a concentration camp.

Nor did Morocco’s Jews wear the yellow star, their property was not seized, and they were not stripped of their citizenship.

A Moroccan woman carries a sack on her head as she walks along a narrow street in the Jewish Mellah quarter of Tinghir, at the foot of the High Atlas and the heart of Morocco's Berber community on April 21, 2014 (photo credit: AFP/FADEL SENNA)

French-speaking Moroccan Jews immigrated to Canada’s French-speaking province in the 1960s and 70s, sometimes by first moving to France, and later to Canada.

Recently, however, Jews who lived in Morocco during World War II have become eligible to receive reparations from the German government.

In Quebec, where Moroccans make up a quarter of the Jewish community, about a third of applications for German reparations come from Moroccan immigrants, estimated Stacy Jbeli, a case manager at the Cummings Jewish Centre for Seniors, which distributes reparations payments to local Holocaust survivors. Jbeli said that of the 2,000 Canadian-Moroccan Jews who applied for compensation, about 1,800 have received it.

Montreal-resident Edery’s 96-year-old mother is one such recipient. She received a check for CA$3,000 and might also be eligible for $1,500 per year for medical appointments, eyeglasses, medications, and home care services.

Why are Moroccan Jews now considered Holocaust survivors?

Until now, stories about what Moroccan Jews experienced during the war were not collected by Holocaust museums. For example, the University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive, which has tens of thousands of testimonies from Holocaust survivors, does not include a single interview with a Jew living in Morocco during WWII.

Children run along the walkways of the mellah. The old Jewish quarter is discernible by its narrow, rundown alleys. (photo credit: Michal Shmulovich)

Despite the city’s large Moroccan Jewish population, the Holocaust Museum in Montreal also does not have any testimonies from Moroccans.

At the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, there are just a handful of testimonies from Moroccans — so few, in fact, that the chief of the museum’s oral history archive wasn’t even aware they existed. In these interviews, Jewish Moroccans describe the hardships of war that both Jews and non-Jews endured: bombings, food shortages, and curfews.

“There is nothing like a ‘Wow!’ [survival] story,” said case manager Jbeli, who has Moroccan clients.

A man wears a djellaba, a traditional Moroccan hooded cape for men or women, in the old mellah of Marrakech. (photo credit: Michal Shmulovich)

But the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as the Claims Conference, convinced the German government to compensate Moroccan Jews for one primary reason — because they were forced to live in the mellahs, or historic Jewish quarters.

Under German law, forced residence is recognized as a type of persecution, explained Greg Schneider, the executive vice president of the Claims Conference. Moroccan Jews who were already living in the mellahs were not allowed to move out, and some who were living outside of the Jewish districts had to move into them, Schneider said.

Edery, whose uncle and cousins were forced to leave their home and relocate into the mellah in Marrakesh during the war, suspects that the policy may have been put in place as the first step to extermination.

An outside view of the Jewish cemetery in Marrakech, located near the edge of the mellah. (photo credit: Michal Shmulovich)

“They wanted to contain them in one place. Was it done for the same reasons [as in Europe]? It wouldn’t surprise me,” said Edery. “The Germans just didn’t get the time to do it because of the King of Morocco.”

However, a mellah wasn’t exactly like a Polish ghetto because the gates were not locked, people were not prevented from going in and out, and because most Moroccan Jews lived in mellahs even before the war. In addition, Jews weren’t forced into the mellahs in all Moroccan cities.

It is indisputable, however, that the conditions in the mellahs were terrible.

Homes in the mellah, or old Jewish quarter, of Fez, are located very close together, with tiny alleys as streets. (photo credit: Michal Shmulovich)

Montreal radio commentator Charles Barchechath, who was born in 1943 in the mellah of Rabat, said that food was scarce and typhus and cholera were common.

“The epidemics took the lives of a lot of Jews of Morocco. My father caught typhus, but luckily he recovered,” he said.

Between 1940 and November of 1942 when the Americans landed in Morocco, Moroccan Jews also had to abide by discriminatory laws: Jewish children were expelled from schools, Jews were fired from government jobs, and there were quotas on how many Jews could attend universities or work as doctors, lawyers and pharmacists, said Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who wrote a book about the Holocaust in Arab countries.

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Executive Director Robert Satloff testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

“In general, Vichy laws that were applied in France, were applied in Morocco,” Satloff said. “The vast majority of Moroccan Jews were not working in the public sector, were not university students or university graduates, but the laws were there and they applied.”

Vichy officials attempted at one point to make an inventory of property held by Jews, but Mohammed V met with the Jewish community and promised to slow down the census, Satloff said. As a result, Jewish property in Morocco was not confiscated, unlike Jewish property in neighboring Algeria.

Historians also say that had American troops not landed in North Africa in 1942, Moroccan Jewry — which numbered approximately 250,000 during WWII — may have also been sent to the death camps.

File: Morocco's Mohammed V, wearing white robes, walking with the country's Grand Vizier Si Mohammed El Mokri after he placed a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the Arc De Triomphe during a visit to Paris, France around July 4, 1930. (AP Photo)

According to documents that outline the Final Solution, Hitler had planned to exterminate 700,000 French Jews – a number that makes sense only if the Jews in French North Africa are included, Satloff said.

Effort to collect testimonies

Worldwide, more than 43,000 Moroccan Jews have received reparations since 2011, when Germany finally recognized them as Holocaust survivors, according to data from the Claims Conference.

But in addition to the payments, the acknowledgement that the Jews of Morocco also suffered from fascist persecution is helping to preserve history.

The applications filed by thousands of Moroccans for compensation have become the largest source of information on the experiences of Moroccan Jews during the war.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco at the rededication ceremony of the Ettedgui Synagogue in Casablanca, Morocco, December 16, 2016. (Screen capture: YouTube)

In addition, Holocaust museums are now promising to begin collecting audio and video testimonies from Moroccan Jews.

“There are several ‘categories’ — for lack of a better word — of survivors that we recognize as gaps in our collections, and the Jews of North Africa are among those identified as a gap,” Leslie Swift, the chief of Film, Oral History and Recorded Sound at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, wrote in an email. “We would definitely like to interview more of them in the future.”

The museum is now planning to send a team to Montreal to interview Moroccan Jews, Swift said.

Ivanka Trump visits Berlin Holocaust memorial

Ivanka Trump visited the Holocaust memorial in the German capital on Tuesday, meeting with the director at the information center before walking slowly through the downtown Berlin monument.

Crowds of people snapped cellphone photos and yelled out, “Hi, how are you?” as Trump entered the center to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe for a short visit.

The US president’s daughter, a convert to Judaism, walked slowly through the undulating grounds filled with concrete slabs, along with US Embassy personnel. She was flanked by a strong police guard keeping tourists and others at a distance.

She paused occasionally to look at the slabs, meant to symbolize the chaos of the Holocaust, and donned sunglasses before emerging on the other side of the monument to a crush of cameras and onlookers.

Ivanka Trump (center) is surrounded by police and security while visiting the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, Tuesday, April 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Earlier in the day, Trump visited a training center in Berlin run by German industrial conglomerate Siemens.

She was greeted at the facility by Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser— one of three German business leaders who took part in a discussion event organized by Trump in Washington in March on how companies can better train workers. That event was also attended by President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Ivanka Trump has been a vocal advocate for policies benefiting working women and vocational training.

Ivanka Trump, daughter and adviser of US President Donald Trump, talks to a trainee when visiting the Siemens Technik Akademie after she participated in the W20 Summit in Berlin Tuesday, April 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, pool)

During the Holocaust, Siemens operated factories next to concentration camps, most notably one adjacent to Auschwitz, which used Jewish forced labor. The company also made equipment and parts for the concentration camps and death camps.

Full text of Donald Trump’s 2017 speech for Holocaust Days of Remembrance

Remarks by President Donald Trump on April 25 at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual National Commemoration of the Days of Remembrance in the US Capitol Rotunda.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Thank you. Friends, members of Congress, ambassadors, veterans, and, most especially, to the survivors here with us today, it’s an honor to join you on this very, very solemn occasion. I am deeply moved to stand before those who survived history’s darkest hour. Your cherished presence transforms this place into a sacred gathering.

Thank you, Tom Bernstein, Alan Holt, Sara Bloomfield, and everyone at the Holocaust Memorial Council and Museum for your vital work and tireless contributions.

We are privileged to be joined by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, friend of mine — he’s done a great job and said some wonderful words — Ron Dermer. The State of Israel is an eternal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people. The fervent dream that burned in the hearts of the oppressed is now filled with the breath of life, and the Star of David waves atop a great nation arisen from the desert.

To those in the audience who have served America in uniform, our country eternally thanks you. We are proud and grateful to be joined today by veterans of the Second World War who liberated survivors from the camps. Your sacrifice helped save freedom for the world — for the entire world.

Elie Wiesel in his office in New York, September 12, 2012 (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Sadly, this year marks the first Day of Remembrance since the passing of Elie Wiesel, a great person, a great man. His absence leaves an empty space in our hearts, but his spirit fills this room. It is the kind of gentle spirit of an angel who lived through hell, and whose courage still lights the path from darkness. Though Elie’s story is well known by so many people, it’s always worth repeating. He suffered the unthinkable horrors of the Holocaust. His mother and sister perished in Auschwitz. He watched his father slowly dying before his own young eyes in Buchenwald. He lived through an endless nightmare of murder and death, and he inscribed on our collective conscience the duty we have to remember that long, dark night so as never to again repeat it.

The survivors in this hall, through their testimony, fulfill the righteous duty to never forget, and engrave into the world’s memory the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people. You witnessed evil, and what you saw is beyond description, beyond any description. Many of you lost your entire family, everything and everyone you loved, gone. You saw mothers and children led to mass slaughter. You saw the starvation and the torture. You saw the organized attempt at the extermination of an entire people — and great people, I must add. You survived the ghettos, the concentration camps and the death camps. And you persevered to tell your stories. You tell of these living nightmares because, despite your great pain, you believe in Elie’s famous plea, that “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”

That is why we are here today — to remember and to bear witness. To make sure that humanity never, ever forgets.

The Nazis massacred six million Jews. Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide. Millions more innocent people were imprisoned and executed by the Nazis without mercy, without even a sign of mercy.

Yet, even today, there are those who want to forget the past. Worse still, there are even those filled with such hate, total hate, that they want to erase the Holocaust from history. Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil. And we’ll never be silent — we just won’t — we will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again.

‘Denying the Holocaust is only one of many forms of dangerous anti-Semitism that continues all around the world’

Denying the Holocaust is only one of many forms of dangerous anti-Semitism that continues all around the world. We’ve seen anti-Semitism on university campuses, in the public square, and in threats against Jewish citizens. Even worse, it’s been on display in the most sinister manner when terrorists attack Jewish communities, or when aggressors threaten Israel with total and complete destruction.

This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism. We will stamp out prejudice. We will condemn hatred. We will bear witness. And we will act. As President of the United States, I will always stand with the Jewish people — and I will always stand with our great friend and partner, the State of Israel.

So today, we remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children whose lives and dreams were stolen from this Earth.

We remember the millions of other innocent victims the Nazis so brutally targeted and so brutally killed. We remember the survivors who bore more than we can imagine. We remember the hatred and evil that sought to extinguish human life, dignity, and freedom.

US President Donald Trump speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 25, 2017, during the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's National Days of Remembrance ceremony. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

But we also remember the light that shone through the darkness. We remember sisters and brothers who gave everything to those they loved — survivors like Steven Springfield, who, in the long death march, carried his brother on his back. As he said, “I just couldn’t give in.”

We remember the brave souls who banded together to save the lives of their neighbors — even at the risk of their own life. And we remember those first hopeful moments of liberation, when at long last the American soldiers arrived in camps and cities throughout occupied Europe, waving the same beautiful flags before us today, speaking those three glorious words: “You are free.”

It is this love of freedom, this embrace of human dignity, this call to courage in the face of evil that the survivors here today have helped to write onto our hearts. The Jewish people have endured oppression, persecution, and those who have sought and planned their destruction. Yet, through the suffering, they have persevered. They have thrived. And they have enlightened the world. We stand in awe of the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.

I want to close with a story enshrined in the Museum that captures the moment of liberation in the final days of the war.

It is the story of Gerda Klein, a young Jewish woman from Poland. Some of you know her. Gerda’s family was murdered by the Nazis. She spent three years imprisoned in labor camps, and the last four months of the war on a terrible death march. She assumed it was over. At the end, on the eve of her 21st birthday, her hair had lost all of its color, and she weighed a mere 68 pounds. Yet she had the will to live another day. It was tough.

Gerda later recalled the moment she realized that her long-awaited deliverance had arrived. She saw a car coming towards her. Many cars had driven up before, but this one was different. On its hood, in place of that wretched swastika, was a bright, beautiful, gleaming white star. Two American soldiers got out. One walked up to her. The first thing Gerda said was what she had been trained to say: “We are Jewish, you know.” “We are Jewish.” And then he said, “So am I.” It was a beautiful moment after so much darkness, after so much evil.

From left, Vice President Mike Pence, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin applaud on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 25, 2017, where President Donald Trump spole during the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's National Days of Remembrance ceremony. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

As Gerda took this solider to see the other prisoners, the American did something she had long forgotten to even expect — he opened the door for her. In Gerda’s words, “that was the moment of restoration of humanity, of humanness, of dignity, and of freedom.”

But the story does not end there. Because, as some of you know, that young American soldier who liberated her and who showed her such decency would soon become her husband. A year later, they were married. In her words, “He opened not only the door for me, but the door to my life and to my future.”

Gerda has since spent her life telling the world of what she witnessed. She, like those survivors who are among us today, has dedicated her life to shining a light of hope through the dark of night.

Your courage strengthens us. Your voices inspire us. And your stories remind us that we must never, ever shrink away from telling the truth about evil in our time. Evil is always seeking to wage war against the innocent and to destroy all that is good and beautiful about our common humanity. But evil can only thrive in darkness. And what you have brought us today is so much more powerful than evil. You have brought us hope — hope that love will conquer hatred, that right will defeat wrong, and that peace will rise from the ashes of war.

Each survivor here today is a beacon of light, and it only takes one light to illuminate even the darkest space. Just like it takes only one truth to crush a thousand lies and one hero to change the course of history. We know that in the end, good will triumph over evil, and that as long as we refuse to close our eyes or to silence our voices, we know that justice will ultimately prevail.

So today we mourn. We remember. We pray. And we pledge: Never again.

Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

‘We’ll confront anti-Semitism,’ Trump vows at Holocaust event

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump delivered his strongest denunciation of anti-Semitism to date on Tuesday, calling Holocaust deniers “an accomplice to this horrible evil” and vowing to use his office to “confront anti-Semitism.”

In an address inside the US Capitol’s ornate rotunda at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s annual National Commemoration of the Days of Remembrance, Trump seemed to respond to concerns voiced by Jewish leaders in the early months of his administration that he was reluctant to tackle anti-Semitism head on.

“This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism,” Trump said. “We will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bear witness and we will act. As president of the United States, I will always stand with the Jewish people — and I will always stand with our great friend and partner, the State of Israel.”

This year’s memorial was the first since the death last year of Elie Wiesel, and Trump paid tribute to the renowned writer and Holocaust survivor, saying the lessons of his life would guide his decisions to prevent atrocities like the Holocaust from recurring on his watch.

“I believe in Elie’s famous plea that ‘for the dead and the living we must bear witness,’” he said. “That is why we are here today, to bear witness. To make sure that humanity never, ever forgets that the Nazis massacred six million Jews. Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide.”

This June 5, 2009 photo shows former US President Barack Obama (C), German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Holocaust survior Elie Wiesel making their way to pay their respects at a memorial during a visit to the former Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar in Germany. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

The president also castigated Holocaust deniers, in terms more strident than he has used in the past.

“Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil. And we’ll never be silent — we just won’t — we will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again,” he said, a statue of Abraham Lincoln towering over him.

Holocaust denial, Trump added, is “only one of many forms of dangerous anti-Semitism that continues all around the world.”

He closed the speech by saying, “Today we mourn, we remember, we pray, and we pledge — never again.”

The event was first organized in 1979. The following year, Congress established the annual Week of Remembrance as the nation’s official commemoration of the Shoah.

Trump’s speech won praise from the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that was not reluctant to criticize the president — neither during his controversial campaign, nor during his nascent presidency.

“We welcome President Trump’s clear pledge today to confront anti-Semitism and we look forward to working with the president and his administration to put his pledge into action,” the group’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said.

Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, speaking at the ADL Annual Meeting in Los Angeles on November 6, 2014. (Courtesy ADL)

Greenblatt was one of the loudest and most strident critics of the Trump White House’s January statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day that omitted mention of Jews or anti-Semitism, which he called at the time “puzzling and troubling.”

On Tuesday, he gave the president credit for the specificity of his language.

“It deeply matters that President Trump used the power of his office to stand against anti-Semitism and hate and to honor the memory of the six million Jews and millions of others murdered in Europe,” he said.

“But this spirit should not be restricted to Holocaust Remembrance Day,” he added. “We very much hope the president will continue to use his bully pulpit to speak out against anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hatred in all forms. We urge the president and his administration to act to protect targeted communities against hate crime and discrimination.”

Several senior-level administration officials were in attendance for Trump’s speech, including Vice President Mike Pence, Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Jewish members of Trump’s team.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is also a senior adviser to the president, were all there.

From left, Vice President Mike Pence, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin listen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 25, 2017, as President Donald Trump speaks at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's National Days of Remembrance ceremony. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Since taking office in January, the Trump administration has repeatedly been forced to fend off claims of insensitivity to anti-Semitism and Holocaust-related matters.

Two weeks ago, Spicer drew intense criticism for falsely claiming Adolf Hitler never used chemical weapons.

He also referred to concentration camps and death camps as “Holocaust centers.”

While Spicer apologized for his remarks, the ADL offered to host a Holocaust education session for Spicer and other White House staffers.

Trump is the first president with immediate family members who are Jewish. His daughter Ivanka married Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, in 2009, and converted to Judaism.

The two — who observe Shabbat and keep kosher — have raised their three children, the youngest of whom was born last March, Jewish.

Members of his administration, however, have also been accused of links to anti-Semitic groups,including top adviser Stephen Bannon and policy adviser Sebastian Gorka.

Historians reject Netanyahu’s claim Allies could have saved 4 million from Holocaust

Two leading Israeli Holocaust scholars have rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that new research shows the Allies could have saved four million Jews from the Holocaust if they had bombed Nazi death camps from 1942 but chose not to act.

“This is utter nonsense. There is absolutely no truth in this,” said Yehuda Bauer, one of Israel’s most eminent scholars of the Nazi genocide of European Jewry.

Rejecting Netanyahu’s claim that the Allies could have repeatedly bombed Nazi concentration camps or at least railway tracks leading to them — and thus halted or slowed the pace of the killing, Bauer said the combined Anglo-American air forces were incapable of reaching any destination east of Berlin and the Elbe river until early 1944.

“The reason for that is simple: The Anglo-American bombers had no fighter escort that could reach those distances,” the historian and Israel Prize laureate said. “There was no possibility whatsoever of reaching the places where Jews were being killed until [early] 1944.”

The P-51 Mustang, a joint US-UK product, did have enough range to accompany bombers to Western Poland. But the first Mustangs were only operational in November 1943, and there were only enough of them for such an operation starting February 1944, said Bauer, who serves as academic adviser to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and museum.

In a speech Sunday at Yad Vashem on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Netanyahu had charged that the Allied powers knew about the unfolding Holocaust in 1942, by which point two million Jews had been killed, and chose not to act promptly to stop the genocide that ultimately killed some six million Jews and millions of others.

“If the powers in 1942 had acted against the death camps — and all that was needed was repeated bombing of the camps — had they acted then, they could have saved four million Jews and millions of other people,” Netanyahu said during Israel’s central Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony. “The powers knew, and they did not act.”

He cited recently released United Nations War Crimes Commission documents that show the Allies were aware of the scope of the Holocaust in 1942 — ostensibly two years earlier than previously assumed — and said that fact took on “a terrible significance.”

But Bauer rejected the notion that the UK, the US or the Soviet Union could have done anything to save the Jews. “Even if they had the (fighter) escort necessary for the bombers to reach the areas where the Jews were killed, what would they have bombed? The concentration camps? They would have killed all the Jews there. There was absolutely no way by air bombing to save Jews,” he said.

A contemporary image of Holocaust scholar Prof. Yehuda Bauer, author of the 1994 'Jews for sale?: Nazi-Jewish negotiations.' (YouTube screenshot)

The Nazis were determined to exterminate the Jews, and would have continued to pursue that goal even if the gas chambers had been destroyed, Bauer also argued. By the end of 1943, all Nazi death camps but one — Auschwitz-Birkenau — had been closed for one reason or another. Half of the nearly six million Jews killed during the Holocaust were not gassed in concentration camps but rather killed on ditches or shot in raids on villages, Bauer pointed out.

Toward the end of October 1944, the Nazis stopped gassing people in Auschwitz because of the advancing Red Army. “And yet,” Bauer said, “until the end of the war hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed by the Germans with no gas. They didn’t need gas. It was more convenient for them, but they would have continued killing even had the concentration camps been destroyed,” he said.

“They could not have been saved,” Bauer went on. “There were no Anglo-American troops on the ground in Europe at the time, and the Soviets were fighting for their lives. Even if someone had wanted to save the Jews, and that’s of course doubtful, they couldn’t have.”

The Allies only truly grasped the scope of the horrors of Auschwitz in June 1944, when a report of two escapees reached Washington. The failure to plan a bombing campaign at that point, while most likely futile, is a moral stain on the allied powers, Bauer said. “They might not have saved a single human live, but they would have made a statement that they care.”

Moshe Zimmermann, the former director of Hebrew University’s Richard Koebner Minerva Center for German History, also rejected Netanyahu’s assertions about ostensible Allied unwillingness to save the Jews.

“The powers fighting against Nazi Germany assumed that they have to concentrate on winning the war, and assumed that this was the most efficient way also to stop the murder of the Jews,” Zimmermann said.

It is often argued that bombing Auschwitz might have been a more successful way of slowing the pace of the systematic annihilation of Jews and Roma, but military historians have long asserted that airstrikes were impossible before the summer of 1943 — as Bauer explained — and that the bombed railways would in any case have been repaired quickly.

Bauer, 91, also contested Netanyahu’s complaint that the world was silent about the Holocaust, citing a December 17, 1942, declaration in which the Allied powers acknowledged that Adolf Hitler was carrying out his “oft-repeated intention to exterminate the Jewish people in Europe” and vowed to “insure that those responsible for these crimes shall not escape retribution.”

This document shows that in 1944 the United Nations War Crimes Commission sought to indict prominent Nazis (UNWCC)

Bauer further took issue with the claim that two million Jews had been killed by 1942. This is an oft-cited but entirely unsubstantiated guess, he said, arguing that it is impossible to know exactly how many Jews had been murdered at the time.

While hesitant to interpret the intentions behind the prime minister’s remarks this week, Bauer said Netanyahu is “not a fool” but a very intelligent, well-read man with a keen interest in history, and said it was surprising that he would make such claims. “He’s falling into these traps again and again,” Bauer continued, citing the prime minister’s October 2015 speech accusing the Palestinian mufti of having persuaded Hitler to exterminate the Jews in 1941.

A picture from a 1941 meeting between Adolf Hitler and the Palestinian Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini that featured in a 2014 campaign in Washington DC (photo credit: public domain)

“First the mufti and now this statement, and I’m sure Netanyahu is going to continue to make idiotic statements,” Bauer fumed.

According to Zimmermann, the Allies could have helped save the Jews by opening the gates to Jewish immigration — but only before World War II. “When the war started it was too late,” he said. “This is a thought Netanyahu would not embrace. First of all, because then one has to ask about the US policy toward the Jews of Europe until December 1941, and because Netanyahu himself did not learn the lesson and leads a very restrictive policy against refugees.”

Bauer said the newly released UN documents, cited by Netanyahu as constituting new evidence that the world knew about the Holocaust earlier than previously assumed, are not in fact revelatory.

“There is absolutely nothing new in this at all,” he said, adding that the material they contain, from the UN War Crimes Commission, was cited at the 1946 Nuremberg Trials.

While the new study Netanyahu referred to this week refers to UN archival material that had not been used until now, the systematic murder of Jews was known in 1942, Zimmermann said.

“Netanyahu just proved to be as ignorant as he was when he blamed the mufti for instigating Hitler to start the Final Solution,” said Zimmermann, asserting that Netanyahu’s “intention was not only to accuse the Allies for collaborating with the Third Reich, but to use this conclusion in order to justify his paranoid policy of, ‘We are up against the whole world, which does not care about us and hates us.’”

Trump To Visit Holocaust Museum

(JTA) — President Donald Trump will visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and then deliver public remarks as part of the museum’s annual Days of Remembrance Ceremony.

The ceremony will be held on Tuesday in the Capitol Rotunda, a day after Holocaust Memorial Day is observed in Israel.

The week-long Days of Remembrance was first held in 1979 and then later established by Congress as the nation’s commemoration of the Holocaust. This year’s Days of Remembrance will be observed from Sunday, April 23 through Sunday April 29, the Museum said in a statement issued on Sunday.

Every president since the museum opened in 1993 has participated in the ceremony.

The Trump administration came under fire in January for the statement it issued in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which omitted a specific mention of Jews, which raised hackles in the Jewish community in the United States and around the world.

Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her Jewish father-in-law and mother-in-law, Charles and Seryl Kushner, took a private tour of the museum last month.  Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, his wife and two other family members visited the museum.

Read more: http://forward.com/fast-forward/369781/trump-to-visit-holocaust-museum/

Trump proclaims week of Holocaust remembrance

(JTA) — President Donald Trump described how “six million Jews had been brutally slaughtered,” in a proclamation marking the week-long Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust.

The White House released the declaration Monday, Holocaust Remembrance Day, ahead of Trump’s planned speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Trump’s statement condemned the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews as well as other minorities.

“The Holocaust was the state-sponsored, systematic persecution and attempted annihilation of European Jewry by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. By the end of World War II, six million Jews had been brutally slaughtered,” read the statement, adding that other targeted groups included “Roma (Gypsies), persons with mental and physical disabilities, Soviet prisoners of war, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Slavs and other peoples of Europe, gays, and political opponents.”

The statement, as well as a pre-recorded speech given by Trump to the World Jewish Congress on Sunday, marked an evolution in his rhetoric from just three months ago, when his administration’s remembrance of the Holocaust failed to mention Jews and he seemingly appeared reluctant at first to condemn anti-Semitism.

The Monday statement reiterated U.S. support for Israel.

“We support the Jewish diaspora and the State of Israel as we fulfill our duty to remember the victims, honor their memory and their lives, and celebrate humanity’s victory over tyranny and evil,” the statement said.

Trump’s proclamation also commemorated the U.S and Allied forces’ liberation of Nazi concentration camps.

“During this week in 1945, American and Allied forces liberated the concentration camp at Dachau and other Nazi death camps, laying bare to the world the unconscionable horror of the Holocaust. We must remain vigilant against hateful ideologies and indifference,” his statement said. “Every generation must learn and apply the lessons of the Holocaust so that such horror, atrocity, and genocide never again occur.”

On Tuesday, Trump will deliver public remarks as part of the museum’s annual Days of Remembrance ceremony — a day after Holocaust Memorial Day is observed in Israel — in the U.S. Capitol rotunda.

Every president since the museum opened in 1993 has participated in Days of Remembrance events, which were first held in 1979 and later established by Congress as the nation’s commemoration of the Holocaust.

Also Monday, the U.S. National Archives announced that the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York, was formally establishing the Henry Morgenthau Jr. Holocaust Collection, a tool to help find Holocaust-related records held by the library.