Why Trump’s Holocaust Statement was Antisemitic

Omitting mention of Jews from Holocaust Remembrance Day is Holocaust denial.

Two news items rose to the top of the hyperactive pile of crap accumulating at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for this Jew: the despicable and deceptive statement Herr Trump made to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, where he somehow didn’t mention Jews, and the second was a report in the Forward about Jared Kushner’s increasing power in the West Wing where he has purportedly said “everything runs through me”. The former debacle even made it to SNL (Jews control that show, right?)! To the latter item I say, “Jared, my landsman, you have a lot of explaining to do to your fellow Jews.”

He can begin by trying to explain how that Holocaust Remembrance Day statement got past him. If he thinks he’s a modern day Mordechai, protecting his fellow Jews from harm, his inability, or unwillingness, or ignorance of the statement does not bode well for us the next time Bannon gets his neo-Nazi freak on. If Mordechai had been as inept as Kushner apparently is, there’d be no Persians Jews in Los Angeles and no hamentashen, and that would be very sad . Come to think of it, Bannon bears a similarity to Haman, Ivanka could be Queen Esther, and Trump acts just like the susceptible and gullible King Ahasuerus. Oh my G-d, President Bannon wants to “make America ancient Persia again!” Since I’m riffing on the Book of Esther, I think this year will be a particularly meaningful Purim. I plan to get so shikhur, I can’t tell the difference between Bannon and Kushner.

I think this year will be a particularly meaningful Purim. I plan to get so shikhur, I can’t tell the difference between Bannon and Kushner.

As for Bannon, well, there’s no surprise there. As a Knights Templar wannabe, and white supremacist panderer, trafficking in Holocaust denial is probably as second nature to him as dismissing the suffering of African Americans during slavery and Jim Crow (and denying the very real impacts of racism today). Back to Africa with you! And all the Jews can immigrate to Israel, convert to Christianity, and usher in the second coming. (This is the reason so many Evangelicals support Israel, by the way). So, why are so many of my fellow Jews flipping out over this? Understanding what the Holocaust was, who denies it, and why they deny it, is essential in explaining the fear generated by the President of the United States’ omission.

The Holocaust was the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question. The solution called for the annihilation of the entire Jewish population of Europe, at least for starters. It almost succeeded. Of the nine million Jews in lands under Germany’s direct control or influence during World War II, six million Jews perished in massacres, mobile gas units, starvation in ghettos, slave labor, and, finally, because none of the latter were fast enough, gas chambers in dedicated death camps. While there were other victims, notably the 200,000 Roma who also perished, the Jews, alone, were marked for annihilation. The entire genocidal infrastructure was created for that purpose. Hitler considered the Final Solution so important, he diverted valuable resources from the war effort in order transport millions of Jews across Europe to his extermination factories. A people, culture, language, religion, that had developed in Europe over a millennia would be wiped out in a few years. That is the Holocaust. Denying it happened, or the magnitude of the crime, or the genocide of the Jews, is quite simply, anti-Semitism.

Even before the liberation of the death camps, the anti-Semitic propagandists were looking for ways to deny it was happening. Unfortunately for the Germans, they couldn’t destroy the evidence fast enough as the war came to a close. Their records were too meticulous and extensive. Oh, and there were all the piles of Jewish bodies they didn’t have time to cremate before the Allies showed up, as well as the survivors of course. That didn’t stop them from denying the Holocaust during the Nuremburg trials, and it doesn’t stop anti-Semites to this day. In fact, it is in the United States, that the denial movement really found its “intellectual” footing.

Credits: Anti-Defamation League. Source: Neo-Nazis: A Growing Threat by Kathlyn Gay, 1997 (p.68)

Anti-Semites have used a number of explanations to cast the Holocaust as a Jewish fabrication. Sometimes it’s expressed as outright denial. It never happened (and the Jews, including all those survivors, made it up). Sometimes, in reaction to the overwhelming evidence, they’ll concede it happened but that Jews exaggerate the extent or manner of the crime. Sometimes they claim there were no gas chambers (or they were built by Jews after the War to slander Germany!). Sometimes it’s a numbers game. Only thousands, or tens of thousands, or a million, not six million Jews, were killed.  Finally, and cynically, there is the “a lot of people suffered at the hands of the Third Reich, not just Jews” explanation. There were gays, and Roma, and Poles, and French resistance fighters, and the disabled, and the Allies were just as bad. Look at what the Brits did to Dresden. Look at what Stalin did to ethnic Ukrainians. Sounds fair, even liberal. What kind of a person would diminish the suffering of others at the hands of the Germans?  “So Jews” they proclaim, “stop complaining, you aren’t so special”. Except, as I explained, we are.

The rising fortunes of extremist, Neo-fascist parties in Europe, who more often than not, subscribe to one or another of these Holocaust denials, has been witnessed with particular concern by most Jews. The rejection of European unity by the United Kingdom has added to the anxiety. The Administration’s repudiation of the United States led liberal world order that emerged in the West after World War II is particularly worrisome to Jews. It was a system that provided a bulwark against any future fascist movement. The dog whistles to neo-Nazis during the campaign, and the deliberate foray into Holocaust denial, are adding to this communal anxiety.

There is no question that by omitting mention of Jews from Holocaust Remembrance Day the Administration was peddling in the argument that they were only one of many victims of World War II. By questioning the centrality of the Jews to the Holocaust they are, in fact, denying the Holocaust.  In her recent article on the Atlantic’s website Deborah Lipstadt referred to the “de-Judaization”of the Holocaust as softcore anti-Semitism. In response to the uproar the White House first said it was a faux paus. When journalists revealed that it was a deliberate omission, the White House repeatedly maintained they were only being being inclusive.  What a self-serving, deceitful, disingenuous, and evil justification. I guess singling out those whining Jews, with their fixation on their own alleged suffering, is just the Trump Administration’s way of showing inclusivity. It’s the logic of “all lives matter” and it’s twisted and sickening and anti-Semitic.

It’s the logic of “all lives matter” and it’s twisted and sickening and anti-Semitic.

You don’t have to take my word for it, even the Republican Jewish Committee and the Zionist Organization of America (an extremist, ultra-nationalist organization), reprimanded Trump. If that isn’t enough evidence, how about the support coming from Steve Bannon’s buddy, the no-longer-fringe Neo-Nazi, Richard Spencer, who complained about “their [Jews] meta-narrative of suffering” on his website,  Alt Right, as reported by Salon.

“It is all about their meta-narrative of suffering, and it shall undergird their peculiar position in American society, and theirs alone.” – Richard Spencer

As for the future. It doesn’t look too hopeful. Steve Bannon, who I’m assuming was behind this, won’t be going anywhere. He’s consolidating power because he got the Donald, Trump of Orange, into the White House. Nor are the misguided (at best), or self-hating (at worse), Jews who give a dubious Kosher seal-of-approval to the White House: Boris Epshteyn, who penned the awful statement, and Steven Miller, Trump’s contrarían warm-up act. (I wonder if Epshteyn and Miller harbor a lot of anger issues over Hebrew School.)

But Jared Kushner, he’s a different story. To him I have some questions. “So, Kushner, are you really so powerful, or is Bannon in charge? I’d like to think you wouldn’t have let this happen. You’re still a Jew right?” If he had any self respect he’d resign from this white supremacist, anti-Semitic, Administration. It’s not like he needs the money, he’s rich, like all of us Jews.


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