(JTA) – A deputy assistant to Donald Trump said that criticism of the White House statement on the Holocaust that omitted Jews was motivated solely by a desire to attack the president.
Sebastian Gorka lashed out after being asked Monday by conservative talk show host Michael Medved if he would acknowledge that it was “questionable” for the White House not to specifically acknowledge the Jewish people in its International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement last month.
“No, I’m not going to admit it,” Gorka said. “Because it’s asinine. It’s absurd. You’re making a statement about the Holocaust. Of course it’s about the Holocaust because that’s what the statement’s about. It’s only reasonable to twist it if your objective is to attack the president.”
In a statement last month to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the White House noted the “victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust,” but did not specifically mention the Jewish people. Six million Jews were killed in the Nazi genocide.
The omission was broadly condemned by Jewish groups from across the political spectrum – including the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Organization of America and the Republican Jewish Coalition – with the notable exception of the World Jewish Congress, which said the statement “appropriately commemorates” the victims of the Nazis.
In response, White House spokesman Sean Spicer called the criticism “pathetic.” Other administration officials have also defended the statement, saying the decision not to specify the Jews was a deliberate effort to be “inclusive.”
Gorka, who was formerly an associate dean at the National Defense University and worked with the FBI’s counterterrorism division before joining the Trump administration, was quoted by JTA in 2006 defending the reappearance of a Hungarian flag appropriated by the pro-Nazi Hungarian Arrow Cross.
The flag wavers “are a soft target, because how do you prove you’re not a fascist?” Gorka said. “If you say eight centuries of history can be eradicated by 18 months of fascist distortion of symbols, you’re losing historic perspective.”