President Donald Trump on Tuesday pledged to “confront anti-Semitism,” professing a firm stance on a subject that his administration has repeatedly stumbled over in its early months.
“This is my pledge to you. We will confront anti-Semitism,” Trump said in remarks at the U.S. Capitol as part of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance. “We will stamp out prejudice. We will condemn hatred. We will bear witness and we will act.”
Trump said that as President he “will always stand with the Jewish people.”
“I will always stand with our great friend and partner the state of Israel,” he said.
Trump specifically cited the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis, a statistic his administration omitted from its statement in January on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide. Millions more innocent people were imprisoned and executed by the Nazis,” Trump said. “We are here today to remember and to bear witness, to make sure that humanity never, ever forgets.”
He said that anti-Semitism “continues all around the world.”
“We’ve seen anti-Semitism on university campuses, in the public square and in threats against Jewish citizens,” Trump said.
He said those who deny the Holocaust happened are “filled with such hate, total hate.”
“Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil and we’ll never be silent. We just won’t,” Trump said. “We will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again.”
The White House’s statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day was just one example of its haphazard response to anti-Semitism, not helped by the fact that prominent white nationalist Richard Spencer praised the statement as “especially Trumpian” and lauded its “de-Judification” of the Holocaust.
Trump in February told a Jewish reporter to “sit down” for asking questions about his administration’s response to recent waves of anti-Semitic acts, and said that he finds charges of anti-Semitism “repulsive.”
“I am the least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life,” Trump claimed.
Jewish community leaders in March met with Attorney General Jeff Sessions after at least the fourth wave of threats made against Jewish organizations since January.
And in April, Trump’s top official spokesman Sean Spicer faced backlash when he said that Adolf Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” Those remarks were striking given that Hitler killed millions of Jews, including German citizens, many in gas chambers.
In a clarification issued just minutes later, Spicer claimed that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people,” and appeared to coin the phrase “Holocaust centers” for what most call concentration camps.
Spicer subsequently issued another three clarifications and said the next day that he “screwed up.”
“I made a mistake,” he said. “I think I’ve let the President down.”
The Anti-Defamation League offered later that week to hold a Holocaust education training for Spicer “and anyone at the White House who may need to learn more about the Holocaust.”