WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration defended its decision to omit any mention of Jews or antisemitism from its statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, noting that Jews were not the only victims of Nazi slaughter.
“Despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered,” said Hope Hicks, a communications aide for the president, in a comment to CNN.
The omission drew ire from American Jewish groups, which also expressed anger later in the day over the timing of President Donald Trump's signing of an executive order that halts refugees from entering the United States.
In his statement, Trump vowed to stand up against the forces of evil as president.
"It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” the president said in the statement. "It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror."
Trump’s omission of Jews follows the commemorative last year by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who came in for criticism by Jewish groups, including the Zionist Organization of America, for delivering a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that similarly failed to mention Jews.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, lamented the omission in Trump’s statement, tweeting, “Puzzling and troubling @WhiteHouse #HolocaustMemorialDay stmt has no mention of Jews. GOP and Dem. presidents have done so in the past.”
JTA contributed to this report.