(JNS.org) President Donald Trump vowed to “confront anti-Semitism” and called Holocaust deniers “an accomplice to horrible evil” in a wide-ranging and forceful speech delivered Tuesday at an event marking the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Days of Remembrance.
“This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism,” Trump said at the U.S. Capitol. “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.”
Trump was joined by a number of senior administration officials at the event, including Vice President Mike Pence, Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Mnuchin, Cohn and Kushner are Jewish.
Invoking the words of famed Holocaust survivor and human rights activist Elie Wiesel–“For the dead and the living, we must bear witness”–Trump said that “we are here today, to bear witness. To make sure that humanity never, ever forgets that the Nazis massacred 6 million Jews.” Wiesel passed away last summer.
Additionally, Trump called Holocaust denial “only one of the many forms of dangerous anti-Semitism that continues around the world.”
Trump’s remarks were widely praised by Jewish organizations, who have previously been critical of the president’s administration and election campaign over controversial statements or silence about anti-Semitism.
In mid-April, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer apologized for saying Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons during World War II. In January, Jewish leaders expressed concern when Trump did not mention Jews in his statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Tuesday’s comments, on the other hand, represented “an essential moral commitment by an American president and one that should be deeply appreciated by all people of good will,” said Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s executive director for public policy.
Stephen Greenberg and Malcolm Hoenlein, leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Trump “clearly and forcefully condemned all forms of anti-Semitism, calling out Holocaust denial, threats to Israel’s existence, anti-Semitic discourse, and rhetoric and attacks on Jewish communities.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said, “We welcome President Trump’s clear pledge today to confront anti-Semitism.”