Columns

Kerry on Holocaust Remembrance Day: Recall Jews 'Were Denied Entry to Our Ports'

Image via Shutterstock. The memorial of the death camps at Auschwitz.

Secretary of State John Kerry marked Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day — with a nudge about the need to help people today who are fleeing from violence.

“On this day, we pause to reflect on the irredeemable loss of six million Jews and countless Poles, Roma, LGBT people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and persons with disabilities brutally murdered by the Nazis because of who they were or what religion they practiced,” Kerry said in a statement. “We remember that behind each of these victims is more than a number, but a name – a life cut short, a future unfulfilled, a family made incomplete.”

“…Many in our country lost loved ones in the Holocaust. As I have learned in the past decade, some of my own relatives were among those who perished in Auschwitz, Terezin, Sobibor, and Dachau. But the lessons of the Holocaust, and the need for remembrance, are universal, and as relevant to everyone today as they were seven decades ago.”

Kerry said “all of us should remember that many Jews fleeing violence and extremism were denied entry to our ports.”

“All of us must stand firmly and resolutely against resurgent anti-Semitism, sectarian hatred, and bigotry in our time. All of us must act to confront discrimination on the basis of race or religion, insist on the rule of law in relations between nations and peoples, and do all we can to uphold the fundamental dignity of every human being,” he added.

Kerry called it “our responsibility – individually, collectively, globally – to denounce injustice and prevent genocide.” The death toll in Syria is hovering around half a million people.

“It is our duty to combat intolerance and prejudice in any form,” he said. “It is our solemn obligation to not only preach compassion, but practice it – and to do all we can to ensure that ‘never again’ is a promise not only made, but kept.”

President Obama issued his own statement stressing that “the stories of these survivors and their protectors remind us to confront persecution wherever it arises, and that silence can be an accomplice to evil.”

“They remind us of our duty to counter the rising tide of anti-Semitism, bigotry and hatred that threaten the values we hold dear—pluralism, diversity, and the freedoms of religion and expression,” Obama said.

“Today, and every day, we stand in solidarity with the Jewish community both at home and abroad. We stand with those who are leaving the European cities where they have lived for generations because they no longer feel safe, with the members of institutions that have been attacked because of their Jewish affiliations, and with the college students forced to confront swastikas appearing on their campuses. And we call upon all people of good will to be vigilant and vocal against every form of bigotry.”

The president added that “when we recognize our interconnectedness and the fundamental dignity and equality of every human being, we help to build a world that is more accepting, secure and free.”