Jewish organisations around the world have expressed extreme disquiet over US President Donald Trump’s Holocaust Memorial Day statement in which he failed to mention Jews or antisemitism, and his executive order, issued on the same day, to ban citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
Jonathan Greenblatt, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, called Mr Trump’s HMD statement “puzzling and troubling”. The speech was also condemned by the Republican Jewish Coalition, and the Zionist Organisation of America.
Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt said: “What we saw from the White House was classic softcore denial. The Holocaust was de-Judaised.”
Meanwhile, there was outrage over the US President’s move to prevent those with passports from several Arab countries — including war-torn Syria, Iraq and Libya — from entering the US.
Mr Greenblatt said: “History will look back on this order as a sad moment in American history — the time when the president turned his back on people fleeing for their lives.”
In the UK, Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies, said: “Bans based on national origin are indiscriminate and unjust. They would be unlawful in UK law. While we all understand the need to properly check those who enter our countries, this needs to be balanced with compassion towards the plight of those fleeing for their lives.”
The René Cassin human rights organisation said the ban was “cruel, disproportionate and runs counter to international humanitarian law.
“The fact that this ban was announced on International Holocaust Memorial Day acts as a reminder from history as to the tragic consequences of turning away vulnerable people.”
Not all Jewish organisations spoke out against the ban, however.
The Zionist Organisation of America commended Mr Trump, calling the executive order “a much-needed effort to address a key flaw with the US immigration vetting process: the lack of information needed to vet immigrants and to keep ISIS from infiltrating the US”.