The White House issued a statement Friday commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day. But in a break with recent tradition, the statement didn't make any mention of the Jewish people or anti-Semitism, only referring to the victims of the Holocaust as "innocent people."
In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly voted to observe Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Since then, U.S. presidents have issued statements on Jan 27., which was also the date allied forces liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945. Those statements have consistently mentioned the Jewish people.
In 2016, President Barack Obama's statement mentioned "the six million Jews and million of others murdered by the Nazi regime" in the first sentence of his statement. He used similar language in other years, mentioning "six million Jews" in the opening paragraph of the annual statement.
In 2008, President George W. Bush's statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day didn't mention the Jewish people specifically, but did mention the president's visit to Israel's Holocaust museum and stated "We must continue to condemn the resurgence of anti-Semitism."
The U.S. established its own official days of Holocaust remembrance during the Carter administration. A House resolution passed in late 1978 declared April 28 and 29 as "Days of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust." President Jimmy Carter issued an accompanying proclamation on April 2, 1979. In the second paragraph, the proclamation said "Dachau and other death-centers like Buchenwald, Auschwitz and Treblinka were the means by which the Nazi regime murdered six million Jewish people and millions of other victims in a planned program of extermination."
Trump was accused of using messaging with anti-Semetic themes during last year's presidential campaign. He tweeted an image last summer featuring a picture of Hillary Clinton in front of a background of dollar bills with the phrase "Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!" in a star shaped like the star of David. In November, after the Trump transition team announced Steve Bannon would be hired as White House chief strategist and senior advisor, the Anti-Defamation League released as statement criticizing the hire.
“The ADL strongly opposes the appointment of Steve Bannon as senior advisor and chief strategist in the White House,” the organization wrote. “It is a sad day when a man who presided over the premier website of the ‘alt-right’ — a loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists — is slated to be a senior staff member in the ‘people’s house.’ ”