WASHINGTON (JTA) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was his impression that President Donald Trump’s administration now understands that the meaning of the Holocaust was the attempt to eradicate the Jews.
Netanyahu said he did not bring up the White House’s controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement in his meeting Feb. 15 with Trump, but that their teams had discussed it ahead of the summit. The statement omitted any mention of or allusion to the Jews.
“There is no doubt that they now understand the meaning of the Holocaust as a means to strike out the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said in a briefing after the summit for Israeli reporters.
The Jan. 27 statement drew criticism from an array of Jewish groups, including several that otherwise back Trump, and Holocaust historians, who said that while tens of millions were murdered during the period and multiple groups were targeted, the bid to eradicate any trace of the Jews was unique and is the only phenomenon “Holocaust” describes.
Administration spokesmen said the statement was meant to be “inclusive” of other groups that suffered during World War II and derided objections as “asinine” and “pathetic.”
JTA asked White House spokesmen to react to Netanyahu’s contention that the administration now understood the centrality of Jews to the meaning of the Holocaust. There was no reply.
Netanyahu, speaking to Israeli reporters, repeated what he had said during a joint news conference with Trump earlier in the day, when an Israeli reporter asked about a spike in expressions of anti-Semitism since Trump’s election, which the reporter linked to the xenophobic tone of Trump’s rhetoric.
“There is no better friend” than Trump “to Israel and the Jewish people,” Netanyahu said.
Asked to comment on expressions of concern by Jewish organizational leaders, Netanyahu insisted: “There is no basis for these worries.”