New York, Apr 24: US President Donald Trump has vowed to wipe out anti-Semitism in a message to mark Israel’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day after his administration was criticised for past statements about the genocide.
In a four-minute taped video played to the World Jewish Congress in New York, Mr Trump called the Holocaust “the darkest chapter of human history” and pledged “never again” would such horror occur.
“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,” he said.
The Republican commander-in-chief went on to pay tribute to Israel and Jewish perseverance, condemning anti-Semitism.
“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,” he said.
“We cannot let that ever even be thought of,” he said, adding “America stands strong with the State of Israel.”
The White House raised eyebrows on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in January by issuing a statement that made no mention of the six million Jews killed in the Nazi genocide.
In February, Mr Trump drew fire for remaining silent for several days over a spate of anti-Semitic threats against Jewish community centres, before condemning them as “horrible” and “painful.”
When asked by an Orthodox Jewish reporter at a White House news conference about the post-election surge in anti-Semitic incidents, Mr Trump reacted defensively, telling his questioner to “sit down.”
Earlier this month, White House spokesman Sean Spicer sparked outrage around the world after minimising the atrocities of Adolf Hitler in comments on Syria.
Critics and political opponents in the United States say Mr Trump’s rise to the White House has emboldened extreme right, neo-Nazi groups.
One of Mr Trump’s closest advisers is son-in-law Jared Kushner, the Orthodox Jewish grandson of Holocaust survivors.
His daughter Ivanka, who is also an unpaid White House adviser, converted to Judaism in 2009.
Silence and sirens as Israel remembers Holocaust
Israelis stood silent and sirens rang out for two minutes as the country held its annual remembrance of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Drivers exited their cars and buses ground to a halt, while students at schools marked the two minutes of silence that began at 10am local time.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to destroy those who call for the destruction of Israel in a speech at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial to mark the start of commemorations last night.
“Iran and the Islamic State want to destroy us, and a hatred for Jews is being directed towards the Jewish state today,” he said.
“From being defenceless people, we have become a state with a defensive capacity that is among the strongest in the world,” he said.
Six Holocaust survivors lit torches at the memorial last night in memory of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II.
The state of Israel was created in 1948 in the wake of the Holocaust as the national home for the Jewish people.
More than 213,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel today, many of them below the poverty line, according to survivors’ groups. PTI