Simon Weisenthal Center founder Rabbi Marvin Hier delivered a benediction at President Donald Trump’s inaugural ceremony, just moments after Trump employed a slogan in his address that was made famous by a 1940s-era anti-Semitic organization.
“Bless President Donald J. Trump and America and our great nation,” Hier said. “By the rivers of Babylon we wept as we remembered Zion,” he said, quoting the Psalm.
Moments earlier, Trump had pledged to put “America first.”
“From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land,” Trump said. “From this day forward it’s going to be only America first. America first.”
Trump was criticized during the campaign for his use of the “America first” slogan, which recalls the America First Committee, a national group that was sympathetic to the Nazis and led by well-known anti-Semites. The Anti-Defamation League asked Trump to stop using the phrase, but he declined.
Hier’s benediction came moments after Trump’s speech.
Hier is the leader of the California-based Simon Weisenthal Center. In 2013, the Forward reported that Hier was the most overpaid head of a U.S. Jewish nonprofit, based on an independent analysis of tax filings.