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White House 'blocked' Holocaust day statement mentioning Jews: Report

White House has defended Trump's statement as report claims State Department draft mentioning Jewish victims was not used
President Donald Trump (AFP)

Donald Trump's White House rejected a State Department-drafted statement written for last month’s International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which specifically named Jewish victims, and reportedly decided to draft its own version omitting Jews entirely.

Trump faced criticism after failing to explicitly make reference to the suffering of Jews or anti-Semitism in his statement last week, with Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, saying the omission was "puzzling and troubling".

In an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, Senator Tim Kaine also commented on the statement saying, “We have to remember this. This is what Holocaust denial is.”

The statement was praised by neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer.  

However, it appears this statement was in fact chosen over one which explicitly commemorated Jews that was written by the State Department’s office of the special envoy on Holocaust issues.

The Trump administration, according to three sources spoken to by Politico, blocked this draft statement.

In his remembrance day statement, President Trump wrote: "It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust," but the deaths of millions of Jews are never explicitly mentioned.

Despite the criticisms, the White House came out in defence of the statement.

Spokeswoman Hope Hicks said, "Despite what the media reports, we are an incredibly inclusive group and we took into account all of those who suffered."

Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer accused critics of "nitpicking", saying that the statement had been written with the aid of a Jewish person who had descended from a Holocaust survivor.  

A White House official claimed there was no ill intent toward the State Department’s draft, but that it was simply not seen until after its own statement had been released.

The official also added that the White House had not asked for the State Department to write their own statement.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day on 27 January was assigned by the United Nations to mark the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.