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May 5, 2017     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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May 5, 2017

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PAGE 2A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 5, 2017 he finally By Ron Kampeas WASHINGTON (JTA)-- President Donald Trump got the memo on the Holocaust and the Jews. In a barrage of statements this week from the president and his aides, the Trump administration wants you to know, he gets it, he really gets it: The Holocaust describes a genocide committed only against one people, the Jews. It's a radical departure from the first days of the Trump administration, when a statement marking Inter- national Holocaust Remem- brance Day omitted any men- tion of Jews. That was made worse, in the eyes of most of the Jewish establishment, when Trump staffers fur- ther blurred the distinction between the Jewish genocide and the sufferings of other groups during World War II. Trump made the distinc- tion clear in his speech April 25 at the annual Days of Re- membrance commemoration in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda organized by the U.S. Ho- locaust Memorial Museum. "The Nazis massacred 6 million Jews," he said. "Two out of every three Jews in Europe were murdered in the genocide. Millions more innocent people were im- prisoned and executed by the Nazis without mercy, without even a sign of mercy." Trump made the same distinction a day earlier in his proclamation declaring the Days of Remembrance and also on Sunday in a video address to the World Jewish Congress. The State Department last week held a ceremony honoring Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese con- sul to Lithuaniawho provided transit visas to Japan for 6,000 Jews, saving their lives. Trump taking out time to keynote the museum event Tuesday was in itself significant. Presidents have appeared at the event, but their presence is not routine, and this week isn't exactly a down week for the adminis- tration with a government shutdown looming. And his embrace of Jew- ish sensibilities about the Holocaust was robust, ex- tending to an excoriation of Holocaust denial, a rejection of anti-Semitism overall and a defense of Israel. "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." A number of Jewish groups, among them groups that had been harshly critical of Trump's past fumbling of the issue, welcomed the turn- around. In some cases, the compliments seemed almost backhanded, giving Trump credit for simply getting his facts right. Jason Isaacson, the Ameri- can Jewish Committee's associate director for policy, praised Trump for his "forth- right message of fidelity to historical accuracy, empathy with the Jewish people, and commitment to combat all forms of hatred and violence towards Jews." Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt, who has had a contentious relationship with the ad- ministration, said he looked "forward to working with the president and his administra- tion to put his pledge into action." So what moved Trump? A variety of factors might have been in play: It's personal. Much has been made of the fact that Trump's daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner--both unpaid White House staffers--are Jewish, as are some of his top aides. Ivanka Trump, in her own Holocaust remembrance message, made clear how personal the week was to her and her husband. "I want my children to live in a world where every country and its leaders pledge to ensure a genocide like the Holocaust will never hap- pen again," she said. "I want them to grow up in a world where people are tolerant, inclusive and loving toward one another." The next day, on a visit to Berlin for the G20 women's summit, Ivanka Trump vis- ited the city's Holocaust memorial. It's loyalty. Israeli Prime Minister Ben- jamin Netanyahu has been outspoken in his praise of Trump, and rarely misses an opportunity to compare him favorably to his predecessor, Barack Obama. The same goes for Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, one Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images President Donald Trump watching the lighting of memorial candles during the annual Days of Remembrance Holocaust ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, April 25, 2017. of Netanyahu's closest advis- ers. In his own address in the Capitol on Tuesday, Dermer flattered Trump explicitly and derided the Obama ad- ministration implicitly by comparing their approaches to Syria. "History shows that indif- ference has been the rule, not the exception," Dermer said. "The exceptions have been de- cisions like the one President Trump made this month to respond to a chemical attack by the Assad regime against innocent men, women and children. That decision was a defiance of indifference." Obama, notably, did not strike Syria after a 2013 at- tack much worse than the one earlier this month that killed 89 civilians in rebel-held ter- ritory. Instead, his threats to strike led to negotiations that culminated in a deal in which Syria promised to divest itself of its poisonous gases. Dermer, however, took aim at Obama's stated preference for "soft power" and seemed to allude to a campaign by Obama's wife, Michelle, to raise awareness of victims of the Islamist Boko Haram group in Nigeria, who kid- napped 276 schoolgirls. "Those contemplating evil should know that they will face more than the soft power of self-righteous con- demnations and feel-good hashtags," he said. Trump was impressed and extemporized a thank you to Dermer in his speech that immediately followed. "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 wonder- ful words--Ron Dermer," he said. Trump in his video address to the World Jewish Congress was similarly effusive in praising the group's presi- dent, Ronald Lauder. "I want to thank Ronald Lauder not only for his many years of friendship--and he truly has been my good friend, he even predicted early that I was going to win the presidency--but also for his leadership of this orga- nization," the president said. Lauder, notably, was the only Jewish leader to give Trump a pass for his botching of the Holocaust remem- Trump on page 15A a new NEWYORK UnitedStates Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke before the World Jewish Congress' Plenary Assembly in New York on Tuesday, tell- ing the 600 delegates from more than 90 countries, "I can safely say that it's a new day for Israel at the United Nations. I know it's a new day for Israel at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. The United States will no longer be silent as Israel is unfairly attacked at the United Na- tions. Silence is not my thing anyway, but that's especially true when it comes to stand- ing up for America's friends. And we have no better friend in the Middle East than Israel," Haley said. "The anti-Israel bias that has existed for so long at the UN is cut from the same cloth as the BDS movement and the global rise in anti-Semitism. They all seek to delegitimize Israel. They are all efforts to intimidate her friends and embolden her enemies. "As long as I'm America's representative at the UN, I am going to stand for human rights and I am going to stand for the truth. And that means I am going to stand for Israel," the ambassador added. Haley declared that the UN must cease its hypocrisy in singling out Israel, and rec- ognize that the true source of instability in the Middle East is Iran. "As with the issue of human rights and Israel, it is the simple truth that will guide the United States policy toward Iran--both inside the UN and out. The truth is that Iran is the world's number one state sponsor of terror- ism. The truth is that Iran is the number one source of instability in the Middle East. "The facts are this: Israel has the right to exist in peace and security. Israel is America's best friend in the Middle East. Israel and America both seek peace. Anti-Semitism must be ended in all of its forms in every place on the planet." Haley extended warm praise to WJC President Ron- aid S. Lauder. "I want all of you to know that you could not have a better leader as your President than Ambas- sador Ronald Lauder. I have met with Ambassador Lauder in my office at the UN, and I've found his counsel very wise and very helpful. I can assure you that his viewpoints are widely respected at the highest levels of the American government, as well as around the world." Shahar Azran US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and WJC President Ronald Lauder at the WJC Plenary Assembly in New York. 25 April 2017. (c) By Ben Cohen Leading American Jewish groups were quick to praise President Donald Trump's forthright condemnation of anti-Semitism during a Holocaust commemoration speech. Speaking on behalf of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jew- ish Organizations, Stephen Greenberg, its chairman and Malcolm Hoenlein, its executive vice chairman/ CEO, noted appreciatively that 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 Jew- ish communities." Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt commented, "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 mur- dered in Europe." Green- blatt encouraged Trump to "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 communi- ties against hate crime and discrimination." Similarly warm reactions to the speech came from the Republican Jewish Coalition, which praised Trump for "speaking from the heart," and the American Jewish Committee, which highlight- ed the President's "empathy with the Jewish people, and commitment to combat all forms of hatred and violence towards Jews." Not all reactions were posi- tive, however. Bend the Arc Jewish Action, a progressive civil rights organization, argued that Trump's speech "will not excuse his admin- istration's overt embrace of white supremacy and white nationalism... Americans and the Jewish community in particular are not fooled by Trump's pleasant-sounding words." The organization's CEO, Stosh Cotler, authored an op-ed for the left-wing Alternet site earlier this week headlined, "The Stain of Anti- semitism at the White House Isn't Going Away." The Anne Frank Center, another progressive Jewish organization that has stoked allegations about anti-Sem- itism in the White House, awarded Trump a C- grade for his speech.