Until mid-2016, I was the Jewish World Correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, covering Jewish life and, unfortunately, antisemitism across the globe. Much of my focus was on Eastern Europe and Holocaust distortion in former Soviet countries such as the Ukraine and Hungary.
Checking the news after Shabbat, I was surprised to see a statement by President Donald Trump ostensibly commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day but which failed to make any mention of the Jewish people or antisemitism.
Given that his new policy blocking immigration from seven Muslim nations had been implemented on the same day, sparking a worldwide furore, I assumed that his failure to mention Jewish suffering was an oversight, a mistake amid the malstrom.
That hope, however, was quickly dashed when spokeswoman Hope Hicks told CNN the administration was “incredibly inclusive” and cited the murder of the Roma, the disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other groups as the basis of the decision to omit the central victims of the Holocaust.
Mr Trump is known for refusing to back down, even when the facts are not in his favour, and his comments on the Holocaust were no exception.
In an interview on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Preibus doubled down on the administration’s Holocaust revisionism.
Asked why he was whitewashing the genocide of the Jewish people, the former head of the Republican National Committee replied that he did not regret the wording.
Despite saying he did recognise that the Holocaust was about destroying the Jews as a people, he continued to defend Mr Trump’s statement, adding, “everyone’s suffering in the Holocaust including obviously all of the Jewish people affected”.
In much of Eastern Europe, governments have shown themselves to have a vested interest in minimising the Jewish nature of the Holocaust as a way of avoiding having to examine their own role as collaborators. This has led Jewish communities from Budapest to Zagreb to boycott their own country’s official commemorations.
Governments such as Lithuania have pushed what the Simon Wiesenthal Centre calls the double genocide theory, which equates Communist crimes to Nazi ones. Jews, they assert, were not special in their victimhood. This is an especially prevalent view in Ukraine, where the Holodomor, a man-made famine caused by the Soviet Union in the 1930s, is frequently termed the genocide of the Ukrainian people.
However, despite all of those who died during the Nazi terror, the only group subjected to a systematic campaign intended to erase them from the face of the earth was the Jews.
Downplaying the Jewish nature of the Holocaust, a term coined to refer to the destruction of the Jews, is a favourite tactic of Holocaust deniers who know that claiming that six million Jews were not murdered is a hard sell for many.
And by engaging in historical revisionism, the Trump White House is making life easier for deniers everywhere. The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website, happily reported that the President was “exceeding expectations in pushing back against Jewish supremacy”.
But Mr Trump’s Holocaust statement was not the worst event on Saturday. Even as he claimed to be “deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent”, the President was busy barring those fleeing for their lives. Innocent Muslims, Christians and Yazidis were being turned away from America.
But they were not the only ones.
According to the Associated Press, the White House also suspended a programme allowing Iranians — including Jews — fleeing to the West to travel to the US through Austria.
Let that sink in. The White House is blocking Jewish refugees.
As a news reporter I am supposed to be objective, aloof. I am not supposed to issue an opinion. But as the son of a woman born in a refugee camp in Germany, I cannot be silent. On Saturday, the White House committed a crime against the Jewish people.