America’s Fight Against Anti-Semitism
We must learn about the Holocaust is because understanding the unspeakable horrors to which anti-Semitism can lead is vital to winning the war against it.
Among the many steps this Administration has taken in the fight against anti-Semitism, earlier this month it sent the first-ever official United States Government delegation to the March of the Living. I had the great privilege of being part of that delegation.
On Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, I joined six United States ambassadors – our envoys to Israel, Germany, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, and the Vatican – in walking the three terrible kilometers from Auschwitz to Birkenau. We marched shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-in-arm, together with thousands of students, clergy members of different faiths, world leaders, and Holocaust survivors. And we bore witness to humanity’s most inhuman moment. We saw the remnants of the gas chambers and crematoria that the Nazis had destroyed upon their retreat, we saw a room filled with piles of human hair, and we learned that at its operational capacity, the Birkenau extermination camp murdered 20,000 men, women, and children per day. We came face-to-face with unadulterated evil, and we were left devastated.
The very next day the ambassadors and I boarded a plane to Israel. And that evening we again were shoulder-to-shoulder and arm-in-arm, but this time in jubilant celebration of Shabbat at the Kotel – the Western Wall of the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site. Students, soldiers, and people of all ages prayed and sang and danced the evening away in unconstrained joy.
The contrast was indescribable. In one 24-hour period we inhabited two opposite worlds. A world of darkness and a world of light, of hell and salvation, of Jewish powerlessness and Jewish empowerment.
And that stunning contrast led to the inescapable conclusion that in commemorating the 71st Independence Day of the modern State of Israel, we were celebrating not merely an anniversary and a country, but also humanity’s greatest response to history’s greatest evil. Out of the ashes of six million murdered Jews, the Jewish people reclaimed their ancient homeland, rebuilt their state into a thriving democracy, and made Israel a model of justice, freedom, prosperity, and world-changing innovation.
There are two reasons why learning about the Holocaust is so vitally important. The first reason is to remember the victims, not as a means to an end but as an end in itself. Either by divine providence or accident of fate, we were born in a different time and place from that horror. By virtue of our birth, we escaped unimaginable suffering. And here in America, we have the great privilege of living in the greatest country in the history of the world. The very least we can do is remember those innocent souls from whom every joy was mercilessly taken. We owe them no less than to remember who they were and how they died.
The second reason why we must learn about the Holocaust is because understanding the unspeakable horrors to which anti-Semitism can lead is vital to winning the war against it. Anti-Semitism is unique among hatreds in its ubiquity, longevity, ferocity, and destructive power. President Trump regularly calls it a “vile poison” because it kills not only Jews, but ultimately also the societies that imbibe it. Every person on earth must be made to understand the ruinous evil of anti-Semitism, and Holocaust education is an indispensable part of gaining that understanding.
I am proud to lead America’s fight against the world’s oldest hatred. And I am proud to do so on behalf of an Administration committed in unprecedented fashion to this fight, as well as to the protection of the Jewish people throughout the world and to support for the State of Israel. We will fight the scourge of anti-Semitism whether it emanates from ethnic supremacists, from anti-Zionist radicals, or from Islamic extremists. And we will fight anti-Semitism in every capital and on every campus, whenever and wherever in the world it arises.