Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Penny Pritzker Says ‘Fear of the Other’ Rising in Holocaust Remembrance Message

WASHINGTON — A top Jewish Obama administration official decried the rise of “the fear of the other” in the United States, marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah.

“I do not think a Holocaust is happening in America, but I do worry about what is happening when we betray the principle of inclusion,” Penny Pritzker, the U.S. commerce secretary, said in remarks Thursday in the Capitol building.

“Today in our beloved United States, we are witnessing a rising fear of the other,” she said. “We are better than the language of hate. America is not the tribe of folded arms,” Pritzker said, using a metaphor for the Germans who stood by while the Nazis rose to power and carried out the mass murder of Jews and Roma.

Pritzker, who is Jewish, did not name perpetrators of hate speech, but she noted rising feelings of insecurity among Hispanic and Muslim Americans, who have been the targets of broadsides by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

“Do we sit with our arms folded while words are used to dehumanize other human beings?” she said.

Pritzker, the scion of a Chicago hotel family, was one of Obama’s first backers.

Also speaking was Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer, who identified some extremes of anti-Israel rhetoric in present-day Europe, including in some cases in governments, with the anti-Jewish rhetoric that preceded the rise of the Nazis.

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.