Significant differences between Trump’s and Obama’s Yom HaShoah messages

April 25, 2017

A MUSICIAN GOES “FROM HELL TO HEAVEN”

* Trump: “Today, only decades removed from the Holocaust, we see a great nation risen from the desert and we see a proud Star of David waving above the State of Israel. That star is a symbol of Jewish perseverance.”

“The meaning of that state for so many is captured by the words of a German Jewish musician. Escaping Germany before 1937, he settled in the ancient land of Israel. Sometime later, he received a visit from a British official, who found him living in a hut, with only his piano for company. The official recognized the musician and said: This must be a terrible change for you. The musician looked back at him and replied: It is a change – from hell to heaven.”

***

TRUMP AND OBAMA: YOM HASHOAH MESSAGES COMPARED

[Note by Tom Gross]

Yesterday, Holocaust Remembrance Day (known as Yom HaShoah) was observed in several countries, most notably Israel. (Some other countries have in recent years started observing International Holocaust Day at the end of January, on the date that Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet army.)

I attach the following statement because it may have relevance for President Trump’s evolving foreign policy and how it is likely to differ from that of President Obama.

There has been a lot of attention paid, and criticism made, of Trump when his spokesperson used clumsy words about the Holocaust in the past, or on occasions when Trump himself has not clearly enough condemned anti-Semitic attacks by others (and I have criticized him for this too, in these dispatches, and elsewhere).

Attached below is Trump’s statement yesterday to mark Yom HaShoah. And after that, President Obama’s statements to mark Yom HaShoah made in 2015 and 2016. (Obama made similar statements in 2012, 2013 and 2014.)

This contrast was first noted by the anonymous American blogger EoZ, whose website often highlights important items that others – most notably the mainstream media – fail to.


As he writes:

“President Trump does not have the oratorical skills of President Obama, but his message is a breath of fresh air after the stilted statements from the Obama White House.

Unlike President Trump, President Obama never related the Holocaust to the threats that Israel faces - not in 2016 and not in the previous years either. (See Obama’s Yom HaShoah remarks for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015).

I know that all these statements were drafted by White House speechwriters. But they do reflect the way the President and his administration think.

There is a world of difference between how Obama tried to universalize the Holocaust or would only discuss right-wing anti-Semitism, and how Trump draws a straight line between anti-Semitism and today’s anti-Zionism.

Obama’s White House believed, even if they never said it explicitly, that Israel causes anti-Semitism. Trump’s White House accurately knows that Israel is the antidote to anti-Semitism.”

 

NETANYAHU: ALLIES COULD HAVE SAVED 4 MILLION JEWS IF THEY’D BOMBED DEATH CAMPS IN 1942

On a separate note, in his Holocaust Remembrance Day speech yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bitterly attacked the wartime allies.

The United Nations archives finally released wartime documents last week after post-war governments suppressed them for 75 years, confirming that the US, Britain and other nations knew the full details of the death camps already in 1942, at a time when “only” two million Jews had been murdered.

The allies made a deliberate decision not to bomb the railway lines to Auschwitz and other extermination camps, which would have made it much harder for the Nazis and their allies to continue their industrial killing of Europe’s Jews.

See for example, here:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/world-history/holocaust-allied-forces-knew-before-concentration-camp-discovery-us-uk-soviets-secret-documents-a7688036.html

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1942/dec/17/united-nations-declaration

Over 1.5 Jewish children were murdered in the Holocaust.

(As I’ve noted in past dispatches, it seems that the decision not to try and prevent the Holocaust continuing was at least partly driven by anti-Semitism. Even at a time when reports of the death camps were coming out in 1942, 1943 and 1944, certain U.S. State Department and British Foreign Office officials continued to make blatantly anti-Semitic remarks.)

Netanyahu said yesterday: “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 4 million Jews and millions of other people.”

“The powers knew, and they did not act,” he told the audience at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

“When terrible crimes were being committed against the Jews, when our brothers and sisters were being sent to the furnaces, the powers knew and did not act.”

Netanyahu added that global indifference persisted, citing the examples of Biafra, Cambodia, Rwanda, Sudan and Syria. But he said the lesson for Israel “is that we have to be able to defend ourselves, by ourselves, against any threat, against any enemy… That is the prime obligation of all Israeli prime ministers.”


Belsen 1945


PRESIDENT TRUMP’S 2017 REMARKS (DELIVERED YESTERDAY)

On Yom HaShoah, we look back at the darkest chapter of human history. We mourn, we remember, we pray, and we pledge: Never again. I say it, never again.

The mind cannot fathom the pain, the horror, and the loss. Six million Jews, two-thirds of the Jews in Europe, murdered by the Nazi genocide. They were murdered by an evil that words cannot describe, and that the human heart cannot bear.

On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, we tell the stories of the fathers, mothers and children, whose lives were extinguished and whose love was torn from this earth. We also tell the stories of courage in the face of death, humanity in the face of barbarity, and the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.

Today, only decades removed from the Holocaust, we see a great nation risen from the desert and we see a proud Star of David waving above the State of Israel. That star is a symbol of Jewish perseverance. It’s a monument to unyielding strength. We recall the famous words attributed to Theodor Herzl: If you will, it is no dream. If you will it, it is no dream.

Jews across the world have proved the truth of these words day after day. In the memory of those who were lost, we renew our commitment and our determination not to disregard the warnings of our own times.

We must stamp out prejudice and anti-Semitism everywhere it is found. We must defeat terrorism, and we must not ignore the threats of a regime that talks openly of Israel’s destruction. We cannot let that ever even be thought of.

To all of you tonight, who have come from around the world, let it be known, America stands strong with the State of Israel.

The meaning of that state for so many is captured by the words of a German Jewish musician. Escaping Germany before 1937, he settled in the ancient land of Israel. Sometime later, he received a visit from a British official, who found him living in a hut, with only his piano for company. The official recognized the musician and said: This must be a terrible change for you. The musician looked back at him and replied: It is a change - from hell to heaven.

Many of you here today helped fulfill the same dream, the dream of Israel for millions, a dream that burned in the hearts of oppressed and fallen and which now draws the breath of life from a joyous people each and every day.

Thank you for your leadership, for your service, and for your vision of a world that is more free, just and peaceful place for all of God’s people.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S 2015 YOM HASHOAH STATEMENT

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2015/04/16/statement-president-holocaust-remembrance-day

Today, with heavy hearts, we remember the six million Jews and the millions of other victims of Nazi brutality who were murdered during the Holocaust.

Yom HaShoah is a day to reaffirm our responsibilities to ourselves and future generations. It is incumbent upon us to make real those timeless words, “Never forget. Never again.” Yet, even as we recognize that mankind is capable of unspeakable acts of evil, we also draw strength from the survivors, the liberators, and the righteous among nations who represented humanity at its best.

With their example to guide us, together we must firmly and forcefully condemn the anti-Semitism that is still far too common today. Together we must stand against bigotry and hatred in all their forms. And together, we can leave our children a world that is more just, more free, and more secure for all humankind.

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S 2016 YOM HASHOAH STATEMENT

https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/05/04/statement-president-holocaust-remembrance-day

Today, on Yom HaShoah, we solemnly remember the six million Jews and the millions of others murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

On this day, we honor the memory of the millions of individuals – the mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, friends and neighbors – who lost their lives during a time of unparalleled depravity and inhumanity. We reaffirm our ongoing responsibility as citizens and as a nation to live out the admonition, “Never forget. Never again.” And we commit ourselves to preserving the memories of those who lived through the horrors of the Shoah, so that their experiences are not forgotten by our generation or by our children or grandchildren.

We also honor those who survived the Holocaust, many of them spared from death because of the righteous individuals who risked their lives to save Jews and other victims from Nazi persecution. The stories of these survivors and their protectors remind us to confront persecution wherever it arises, and that silence can be an accomplice to evil. They remind us of our duty to counter the rising tide of anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred that threaten the values we hold dear—pluralism, diversity, and the freedoms of religion and expression.

Today, and every day, we stand in solidarity with the Jewish community both at home and abroad. We stand with those who are leaving the European cities where they have lived for generations because they no longer feel safe, with the members of institutions that have been attacked because of their Jewish affiliations, and with the college students forced to confront swastikas appearing on their campuses. And we call upon all people of good will to be vigilant and vocal against every form of bigotry.

When we recognize our interconnectedness and the fundamental dignity and equality of every human being, we help to build a world that is more accepting, secure and free. This is the best way to honor the legacy we recognize on Yom HaShoah and to fulfill our responsibilities to repair our world from generation to generation.

 

Among previous dispatches on the Holocaust:

How one film revolutionized Holocaust commemoration

Who remembers Jan Zwartendijk?

Reporting Auschwitz, Then & Now: The lamentable record of The New York Times

The “Iranian Schindler” (& new report shows FDR deliberately let Jews die)

 

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All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.