Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Obama Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

President Obama marked Holocaust Remembrance day with calls to combat Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, as well as for vigilance against current and future atrocities.

“As societies, we must stand against ignorance and anti-Semitism, including those who try to deny the Holocaust,” Obama said in a statement issued Thursday. “As nations, we must do everything we can to prevent and end atrocities in our time.”

Obama, who plans to tour the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on Monday together with survivors, also noted in his statement the 100th anniversary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews and who disappeared under Soviet occupation.

The day was also marked for the first time at the Pentagon by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at a ceremony attended by survivors and by Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister with whom Panetta had been meeting.

Panetta said Barak’s career as a decorated soldier and a leader was in itself a rebuke to the Nazis.

Survivors helped “build a strong and vibrant Jewish state in Israel,” he said. “Ehud’s life has been a living tribute to the memory of the Holocaust.”

Visits by Barak to Washington have increased in frequency in recent months as Israel and the United States consult on how best to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

The day also was commemorated by an event organized by the Holocaust Memorial at the Capitol, where Timothy Geithner, the Treasury secretary, represented the Obama administration.

Also speaking at that ceremony was Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to Washington who likened Iran’s current leadership to the Nazis, echoing earlier remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“To achieve its abominable goals, Iran is developing military nuclear capabilities and the missiles to deliver them,” Oren said.

Such comparisons earned a rare rebuke to Israeli leaders from Elie Wiesel, the Nobel peace laureate and Holocaust memoirist.

“Iran is a danger, but to say it will create a second Auschwitz?” Wiesel told Globes, the Israeli business daily, when asked to comment particularly on Netanyahu’s comparisons. “I don’t compare anything to the Holocaust.”

Congressional leaders from both parties also issued statements marking Holocaust remembrance day.

On Wednesday evening, the Holocaust Memorial honored Burmese democracy movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi with its Wiesel Award, named for the memoirist who was a founder of the museum.

Jack Lew, the White House chief of staff, presented the award to Suu, who could not attend and who sent a video message.

Lew, who is Jewish, recalled growing up among survivors, and likened Suu to those who would not turn away from difficulties in the advancement of human rights.

“She refused to give up,” he said. “Instead, she continued to inspire the entire world with her faith in non-violent action, and her belief that freedom would ultimately prove greater than tyranny.”

Natalie Portman, the Israeli-born Oscar winning actress, read a passage from one of Suu’s speeches.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.