President Donald Trump paid tribute to victims of the Holocaust just days after he used a slogan coined by Nazi sympathizers in his inaugural address and drafted an executive order to ban Syrian refugees.
“It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” he said in a statement Friday. “It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.”
The statement, below, never specifically mentions Jewish people or anti-Semitism, as both of Trump’s two most recent predecessor have. It’s a puzzling omission given the president’s support of Israel, and the fact that his daughter converted to Judaism for her husband Jared Kushner.
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called Trump’s Holocaust tribute “troubling” and “puzzling.”
The ADL has spoken out against Trump’s hardline immigration efforts, comparing his vitriol against Muslim refugees to the way Jewish refugees were treated during World War II. Many Jewish refugees who were not let into the U.S. eventually died in concentration camps, including Anne Frank.
In his first week in office, Trump has crafted an executive order that would temporarily halt all refugee admissions, dramatically reduce the number of refugees the U.S. accepts, ban Syrian refugees indefinitely, and temporarily ban the entry of anyone from several majority-Muslim countries.
Friday marks 72 years since the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated. It also marks one week since Trump made “America First” an official tagline of his presidency.
“From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first,” he said in a speech promising to “protect our borders.” Trump admitted last July that he’s aware of the origins of the slogan, which he’s used for some time. Led by famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, the America First Committee fought against U.S. involvement in World War II. Lindbergh and his followers blamed Jewish people for “pressing this country toward war” and opposed any intervention against Adolf Hitler’s brutal murders of around 6 million Jews.
Lindbergh even went as far as expressing sympathy for Hitler, accepting a medal of honor from his administration. Lindbergh wrote in his diary that “we are all disturbed about the effect of the Jewish influence in our press, radio, and motion pictures.”
Trump, who was endorsed by the KKK, drew ire last year when he shared an overtly anti-Semitic image of Hillary Clinton that had originally been shared on a white supremacist website. Trump denied that the picture, which featured Clinton’s face next to a pile of money and a Jewish star, was bigoted.
The president was also criticized for hiring Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart executive with white nationalist ties, to be his White House chief strategist.