AJC Welcomes President's Speech on Holocaust Remembrance

May 09, 2014, 16:04 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, May 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC praised President Barack Obama for his powerful and moving remarks at the USC Shoah Foundation Dinner, where Steven Spielberg presented him with the Ambassador for Humanity Award.

"The President hit the nail on the head in this speech," said AJC Executive Director David Harris, noting that Obama did not just talk about the past, but also drew lessons for the present and the future. "In light of the horrific events of the 1930s and 1940s, President Obama has called on all of us to oppose the growing manifestations of anti-Semitism in Europe, and to challenge those who deny the right of the Jewish people to Israel, their national homeland."

The President condemned Holocaust denial and eloquently explained how the Nazi onslaught on the Jews teaches "that silence is evil's greatest co-conspirator." He expressed pride that the United States had welcomed so many survivors to its shores, and laid out his plan for a Survivor Assistance Fund to enable them in their remaining years "to live in dignity and free from poverty."

While "we cannot eliminate evil from every heart, or hatred from every soul," Obama said, we must "make sure our children and their children learn their history so that they might not repeat it." He drew the attention of his audience to "today's headlines—the devastation of Syria, the murders and kidnappings in Nigeria" as proof "that we have not yet extinguished man's darkest impulses."

The President also cited the recent hate attack on Jewish sites in Overland Park, near Kansas City. The fact that the victims turned out not to be Jews, he said, underlined the truth that acts of intolerance inevitably spill over beyond the targeted group and threaten everyone. 

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SOURCE American Jewish Committee