President Trump’s Holocaust Remembrance Day speech this week at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., was worthy of praise. He excoriated Holocaust denial, hammered home the toll of Nazi genocide, promised to “always stand with the Jewish people” and pledged, “Never again.”
Finally, the president got it right when referencing the Holocaust, and we congratulate him for that.
This speech followed months of baffling moments, including White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s recent awkward reference to “Holocaust centers” and his claim that Hitler did not use poison gas. Trump failed to mention Jews in his remarks on International Holocaust Memorial Day in January, and in a February news conference, he angrily told an Orthodox Jewish reporter to “sit down” when the topic of anti-Semitism came up.
As much as we appreciate his latest speech, and as much as we may want to chalk up the previous gaffes as inadvertent mistakes, Trump has more to do to mend this fence.
The president still retains as a senior aide Stephen K. Bannon, the former Breitbart chairman and right-wing extremist, who has never backed away from his former flirtations with KKK leader David Duke and other rabid anti-Semites.
Moreover, Trump’s deputy assistant and counterterrorism adviser Sebastian Gorka affiliates with Hungary’s openly fascist and anti-Semitic political organization Vitezi Rend. He is, in fact, a lifetime member, and sports their odious medals on his chest.
This should be a deal-breaker and Gorka should be out the door.
Instead, incomprehensibly, Gorka still has access to the Oval Office. Just as disturbing, because of his position in the administration he has been invited to address the Jerusalem Post annual conference next month in New York.
Gorka will speak alongside several Israeli Cabinet members and a host of American Jewish community leaders, including the Reform movement’s Rabbi Rick Jacobs, World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder and attorney Alan Dershowitz.
Frankly, this is appalling. If Trump won’t get rid of Gorka, then at the very least Jewish leaders of conscience should refuse to share the stage with him.
A speech — even a fine one — is just a speech. Actions matters more. The president has shown an inclination to do right by Israel and the Jewish people; we hope that he will pursue sound policies and make smart decisions in this arena.
He can start by telling Bannon and Gorka: You’re fired.