(JTA) – The U.S. State Department crafted a statement for International Holocaust Remembrance Day that explicitly mentioned the Jewish victims of the Nazis, but U.S. President Donald Trump’s White House team reportedly blocked its release.
An unnamed Trump official said the incident was purely the product of miscommunication, Politico reported Thursday.
The State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy on Holocaust Issues prepared a statement that it believed was written for Trump to use. The statement specifically mentioned the Jews murdered by the Nazis.
The Trump official told Politico that the president did not receive the State Department draft until after he released his own statement.
Trump’s statement, released Jan. 27, elicited a storm of criticism for failing to mention the Jews killed during the Holocaust.
The White House statement spoke of “the victims, survivors, [and] heroes of the Holocaust,” but did not specifically mention Jews or anti-Semitism, which had been customary in statements by his predecessors, Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
The Zionist Organization of America, Republican Jewish Coalition and the Anti-Defamation League were among the many Jewish groups to take issue with the omission. Sen. Tim Kaine likened the statement to Holocaust denial.
In response to the criticism, Trump administration spokeswoman Hope Hicks defended the statement as an attempt to be inclusive.
Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said the president “has dear family members that are Jewish.”
“I recognize, in fact, obviously that that was what the Holocaust was about,” Priebus said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” last weekend.