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April 25, 2017 12:47 pm

Trump Pledges to ‘Confront Antisemitism’ in Holocaust Commemoration Address at US Capitol

avatar by Ben Cohen

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President Donald Trump speaks inside the US Capitol building on Tuesday. Photo: Screenshot.

President Donald Trump made a solemn pledge to “confront antisemitism” during a speech he gave on Wednesday commemorating the Holocaust.

Speaking to a crowd inside the Capitol building in Washington, DC that included Nazi death camp survivors and World War II veterans, Trump declared that the denial of the Holocaust was “one of many forms of dangerous antisemitism.”

“We’ve seen it on university campuses and in the public square, and in threats against Jewish citizens,” the president said, adding that antisemitism was at its most “sinister…when terrorists attack the Jewish community and when Israel is threatened with total and complete destruction.”

Trump’s address came a day after Israel marked Holocaust Remembrance Day.

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In his speech, the president paid tribute to late Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, who passed away last July. Trump described Wiesel as “an angel who lived through hell and whose courage still lights the darkness.”

Trump cited two of the many survivor stories collected by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, which is holding its annual Days of Remembrance this week. Steven Springfield, the president said, had carried his brother on his back during a death march “because, as he said, ‘I just couldn’t give in.'” And Trump closed his speech with the story of Gerda Klein, a young Polish Jewish woman who married the American Jewish soldier who rescued her from a death march during the war’s final days.

Trump — whose administration was strongly criticized in January after it issued an International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that did not specifically mention the Jewish people — reflected on Tuesday, “We stand in awe at the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.” The State of Israel, he went on to say, “is an eternal monument to the undying strength of the Jewish people. The Star of David waves atop a great nation.”

Trump’s emphasis on Israel was a notable departure from the speech made by his predecessor, Barack Obama, at the same event on Capitol Hill last year. While Obama placed a similar emphasis on tackling antisemitism, he chose not to mention Israel in his remarks.

Watch Trump’s speech below (it begins around the 40:20 mark):

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