U.S. President Barack Obama, seated beside Steven Spielberg and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer listen to remarks at the Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony, organized for the first time in the U.S. by Yad Vashem, at the Embassy of Israel in Washington January 27, 2016. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Obama warns of growing anti-Semitism

U.S. President Barack Obama, seated beside Steven Spielberg and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer listen to remarks at the Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony, organized for the first time in the U.S. by Yad Vashem, at the Embassy of Israel in Washington January 27, 2016. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Obama, seated beside Steven Spielberg and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, listens to remarks at the Righteous Among the Nations Award Ceremony, organized for the first time in the U.S. by Yad Vashem, at the Israeli Embassy in Washington on Jan. 27, 2016. Photo courtesy REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque


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WASHINGTON — President Obama warned of growing anti-Semitism in the United States and the world as he honored two Americans and two Poles who helped save Jewish lives duringWorld War II.

"Here, tonight, we must confront the reality that around the world, anti-Semitism is on the rise. We cannot deny it," Obama said at a Holocaust remembrance ceremony at the Israeli embassy Wednesday (Jan. 27). He cited Jews fleeing European cities, attacks on Jewish centers in Mumbai, India and Overland Park, Kan. and swastikas on college campuses.

"When we see all that and more, we must not be silent," Obama said.

Obama spoke at a "Righteous Among the Nations" awards ceremony on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 71st anniversary of the liberation of theAuschwitz concentration camp, which honors those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

 "This president has a Jewish soul," Spielberg said.

Obama honored four people who helped save Jewish lives during World War II, including Army Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, who was detained at a German prison camp with 1,000 other American soldiers. When a Nazi commander asked the Jewish soldiers to identify themselves, Edmonds ordered all his men to step forward.

"We are all Jews here," Edmonds said.

"I cannot imagine a greater expression of Christianity than to say, 'I, too, am a Jew,'" Obama said. "An attack on any faith is an attack on all of our faiths. It is an attack on that golden rule at the heart of so many faiths — that we ought to do unto others as we would have done to us."

Also honored Wednesday: Lois Gunden, a 26-year-old French language teacher from Indiana who saved Jewish children while working at a Mennonite school in southern France during the war, and Polish citizens Walery and Maryla Zbijewski, who housed a girl from the Warsaw ghetto.

(Gregory Korte writes for USA Today)