Jeffrey Salkin: Martini Judaism Opinion

Donald Trump’s Holocaust aphasia

Aphasia is an inability to comprehend and formulate language because of damage to the brain.

People with aphasia are intelligent, but they can have occasional trouble finding words. Sometimes, they lose the ability to speak, read, or write.

I know a little about this; my late mother had been working on her Ph.D on the subject. Her note cards were still piled up in the den when she died.

When it comes to the uttering of the word “Jew” in connection with the Holocaust, Donald Trump suffers from aphasia.

He simply cannot find the word.

This past Friday, President Trump issued a statement marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

To coin a phrase: how was this statement different from other past presidential statements on the subject?

Trump’s statement mentioned the “victims, survivors, heroes.”

Nothing about the Jews.

Today, on Meet the Press, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus defended the omission of the Jews from the statement.

To restate the classic line from Love Story: “Trump means never having to say you’re sorry.”

This omission of the Jews is bizarre, even for Trump.

Let’s talk about Trump’s Jewish supporters.

They are the Jews who are the most “tribal” (so am I, but that’s another story).

They support him because they believe that he will be strong on Jewish issues — the uniquely Jewish claim to Israel, and one might think, the centrality of Jews in the Holocaust.

They would be precisely the kind of Jews who would say: “The most important lessons to be learned from the Holocaust is a uniquely Jewish lesson: never again!”

But, Trump didn’t mention the Jews in his Holocaust statement. They got lost in a cloud of other victims.

Wait a second. This is straight out of the playbook — of Jews on the Left.

Jews on the Left (and center) would be the ones most likely to say: a. not only Jews died; b. the Holocaust has lessons for all humanity.

That is why so many Jewish groups have been first in line to protest this administration’s restrictions on refugees. I stand with those groups in protest.

These are the Jews who will say: “Never again” means “never again” — not for the Jews, and not for anyone.

In universalizing the Holocaust, and omitting any mention of the Jews, Trump has betrayed his Jewish supporters.

Because, let’s remember why there needs to be an International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the first place — a day that coincides with the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp.

As Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the ADL, told CNN:

The United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day not only because of Holocaust denial but also because so many countries — Iran, Russia, Poland, and Hungary, for example — specifically refuse to acknowledge Hitler’s attempt to exterminate Jews, opting instead to talk about generic suffering rather than recognizing this catastrophic incident for what is was: the intended genocide of the Jewish people.

In fact, the White House’s omission of Jews from the statement on the Holocaust brought a smile to the faces of neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers, like the Daily Stormer.

How, then, should we think of the other victims of the Holocaust?

There were many circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno.

And, in Hitler’s Inferno, the Jews occupied the very center of hell.

The Nazi hell was built for the Jews, maintained for the Jews, existed for the sake of the Jews.

But there were other circles of hell.

What’s the first thing a visitor to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington would encounter?

Not the Jews.

It’s the story of the first victims — the mentally and physically disabled.

The “Law for the Prevention of Progeny with Hereditary Disease” was proclaimed on July 14, 1933. On Sept. 1, 1933, the director of the “Racial-Policy Office” called compassion for people suffering from hereditary disease “false humanity” and a “sin against the Creator’s own laws of life.”

And why did the Nazis stop killing the handicapped?

Because the Church protested!

Imagine what would have happened if the Church had protested the killing of Jews!

And then, there were the Poles. The Nazis intended to turn the Poles into a permanent underclass of slaves. By the end of the war, Poland had lost 45 percent of her physicians and dentists, 57 percent of her attorneys, more than 16 percent of her teachers, 40 percent of her professors, 30 percent of her technicians, and more than 18 percent of her clergy.

And then, there were the gypsies — the Roma.

As many as one million gypsies died. Thousands died in medical experiments, designed to determine the uniqueness of their skull size and their blood. Joseph Mengele had a particular fascination with gypsy twins.

While we can and must acknowledge the other victims of the Holocaust — the above victims, and gays, Communists, labor leaders, and Jehovah’s Witnesses — we cannot lose the centrality of the Jews to the Holocaust narrative. 

To paraphrase Elie Wiesel: 

First, we talked about the six million Jews who died.

But, soon, we will say: “There were eleven million total victims, of whom six million were Jews.”

And then, we will say: “There were eleven million, including six million.”

And soon, perhaps we will not even speak of the six million.

Donald Trump needs to know that the entire mechanism of the Holocaust was essentially designed to eradicate the Jews. Not just faceless, nationless victims. The Jews.

For him and his administration to believe otherwise — well, there is a name for that, a name that the administration itself invented. 

“Alternative facts.”

About the author

Jeffrey Salkin

Rabbi Jeffrey K. Salkin is the spiritual leader of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and the author of numerous books on Jewish spirituality and ethics, published by Jewish Lights Publishing and Jewish Publication Society.


Click here to post a comment

  • In all fairness, I doubt Trump is an antisemite. But his supporters and several members of his staff are another story.

    Between the racists, evangelicals and neo Nazis (I am not going to call those jokers the alt right), antisemitism is pretty much a matter of course. So naturally he was trying to play to his support without actually embracing their cretinous ideas in an obvious manner. Trump is opportunistic scum, not ideological scum.

  • Well said. I firmly believe not mentioning the Jews was deliberate and was intended to make people not remember how easily charismatic “leaders” can manipulate people into hatred and violence. And the Jews have been a target for these kinds of people for centuries.

    What Trump did in refusing to acknowledge the place of the Jewish people in the Holocaust was an attempt to erase from our memories the association of that kind of hatred with a particular religious group. If such hatred arises again, we won’t even recognize how we may be repeating in this country what happened in Germany.

    It is important that Trump and his “alternative fact” talking heads not be allowed to get away with this additional distortion of reality.

  • What keeps them from telling their own story? The reason why the Holocaust is seen as a largely Jewish phenomenon is two-fold.
    1. Jews were the only religious group targeted en masse from child to elderly adult as opposed to individuals such as catholic clergy.

    2. Jews used their own resources and efforts to preserve the history of what happened. They recorded their accounts, continued the pursuit of war criminals who escaped justice, they created their own narratives to explain the events to others.

    Whereas most groups tried to forget what happened, the Jews did not. Remember these are the same people who reignite a longstanding grudge against the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh every year at Passover. They don’t forget easily. 🙂

  • Back in the day, the Puritans were not cool with freedom of
    religion. Thank god liberalism is the idea that evil deserves a fair chance. The freedom loving Quakers taught the Puritans a lesson by walking up and down the aisles undressed. Mass is at 9 am. If you want to coexist, just call and I’ll give you directions.

    After I stick my tea bags so far up your liberal mash potatoes your mouth stars as the family guy’s chin, we can go to the Church festival and share a Pelosi – a warm Italian dessert stuffed with pork and topped with bacon. Every year there is a Church gun sale.

    Philo, of the Alexandria Israelites, kicked a touchdown
    Buddha by reconciling Greek and Roman philosophy with God. The proverbs game was on the line. What would Caligula do?

    Thanks to the Flavians, one could make the argument that
    Jesus was a Roman creation that did such a good job of dividing the Jews that the Roman empire was very peaceful from 70AD to 180AD. Titus called himself the
    son of God and God was his Ronald Reagan like dad.

    Titus Flavius Josephus wrote the History of the Jewish War
    which matched the first three Gospels.

    Do you nestle by my bar stool?
    Making me so calm within
    Have you touch me with your warmness
    Or have I wet myself again?

    Are you drinkin’ with me Jesus?
    I can’t see you very clear
    If you’re drinkin’ with me Jesus
    Would you buy a friend a beer?

    But does your head pound with the message
    As hung over you do rise?
    Tell me what does heaven look like, Jesus?
    Seen through holy bloodshot eyes

    Or should we take a taxi home Jesus
    But can we simply hoof it from here?
    I know you can walk on the water
    But can you walk on this much beer?

    Are you drinkin’ with me Jesus?
    I can’t see you very clear
    If you’re drinkin’ with me Jesus
    Would you buy a friend a beer?

    Are you drinkin’ with me Jesus?
    I can’t see you very clear
    If you’re drinkin’ with me Jesus
    Would you buy a friend a beer?

    God Damn it Jesus! Buy me a fricking beer!

    Emperor Vespasian is famous for saying “Damn it! I’m
    becoming a God!”.

    Back when God was both good and evil, the evil doers were
    doing so well the Romans round up all the Talmuds. Fast forward 2000 years and we’re sitting on the largest debt and governmental bubble in 6000 years – as good as it get for the first, second, or third coming.

    Jesus Christ, Catholic Churches are spawning Pokemon and Pope Francis likened ISIS to Jesus.

  • Would you like some ranch dressing with that word salad/ Maybe a referral to a doctor who will up the dosage on your meds.

    I am certain you thought that made sense in your head. On the screen it comes off as incoherent rambling. I am not going to touch it with a 10′ pole. You’re on your own there buddy.

  • They’re putting up like a thousand Ba’al arches here, there,
    everywhere! “I’m coming out for the whole world to see” and the next thing “I’M GOING TO SUCK ON YOU LIKE A BUCKET OF TICKS FOR ETERNITY!”.

    The McGuffin is spiking humanity. The setup hero is Barack. The villain is humanity. Hillary is the anti-Christ.

    You’re gonna die of Lyme disease in denial unless you untie
    your tubes you tied in your commie core teens and join Team America. Hillary was last in line for brains. The ones she’s got are rotten and insane.

  • 15 million Jews in 1934 and 15 million Jews in 1945 but 15 million fewer German Christians…….Mossad’s motto is making war by way of deception. Jesus a Flavian? Check out Joe Atwill. The Jews have been killing Christians ever since the Roman Jewish war but the star of david wasn’t a Jewish symbol for 2000 years.

  • I’m not in my hearse
    Cause I’m Robin Hood in Perverse
    I steal from the rich
    To give to those in the ditch
    I’m the tax collecting Baron of exchequer
    Who couldn’t be denser?
    The black and white plague came
    The lost sheep had no shame
    I send people down to discuss tariffs
    When there has to be a new sheriff

    Let’s play political economic 21 to understand the age old curse of Canaan world takeover plan.

    If your team has three referees, you’ll have 17 players making $100 and keeping $90, the refs get their $50, and the leech gets $33, the free market action will be incredible and everyone’s standard of living doubles in a decade or two.

    My team has six referees. I have 10 players making $100 and keeping only $62. The free market action isn’t very good because of the screwy calls. Nobody’s lot improves but Country Dictator (6 referees + 5 leeches =11>10 players) is firmly in charge. So much for Democracy.

    The International Communists are evil dictators who like to have seven or more referees. Less than eight players keeping less than $45 and six or more leeches to overload the third world into the developing world and it turn the first so everyone has to suck off their hemorrhoids until the world’s population is reduced from 6.5 billion to 250 million.

    Hillary, Obama, Soros, and all their disgusting kind, constipate the diving board of life so they can play with their drone sticks. That’s the only way losers can get some loving.

    Same morality play over and over again!

  • Behind every con man is a real whack job But if the black panthers had a pair, they would play with them all day. Hillary is so mean, she would lop off Bill’s pair, Mount them on a wall, and laugh her thighs off Only wearing Bill’s full metal helmet head.

    In the spacious confines of her slacks, Hillary eats black baby liver and onions for breakfast and femme Nazi brains covered with commie cagine in a cast iron burka for dinner. Bill found Hillary by dragging a dollar across Lakeside Trailer Park.Hillary will do anything for money.

  • Give me a “C”, C
    Give me a “a”, A
    Give me a “t”, T
    Give me a “t”, T
    Give me a “l”, L
    Give me a “e”, E

    What does that spell “CATTLE”, “MOO”

    Hillary rode into town on a crippled horse
    Got fired from a cattle drive up north
    The ropes of the gallows were swingin’ in the breeze
    All the Wanted posters had pictures of the new world order

    Tied what was left of their horse to a hitch
    Walked into a saloon, they called the ‘Busted Witch’
    The DNC ordered up a whiskey, they asked us for our bread
    We paid them two bits. Some day, we might have to pump them full of lead

    Mondo has his Colt Forty Five, right by his side
    He’s the American Kid, I hope you’re quite prepared to die

    Hillary of the evening was eyeballing him
    Staring down from the balcony
    She walked up to him with gun powder breath
    The ace of hearts was bleeding from her hip
    She dragged him upstairs by her lower lip

    Mondo has his Colt Forty Five, right by his side
    He’s the American Kid, I hope you’re quite prepared to die

    She couldn’t untie his boots, she couldn’t untie his jeans
    She couldn’t open his pickle jar, Jimmy popped in his teens
    ’bout that time Bill’s front door was kicked in
    And there stood some a$$hole all covered in sin
    Bill saids ‘That’s my woman’, Mondo said ‘That’s no lie’
    Hillary blew a hole in him just as big as the sky

    Mondo has his Colt Forty Five, right by his side
    He’s the American Kid, I hope you’re quite prepared to die

  • Yes. Trump may not be “antisemitic” in the sense of a personal revulsion or hated or contempt, but he sure as heck couldn’t care less about the EFFECT of his words on the hordes who ARE antisemitic. That in some ways is MORE scary for our society in the coming years.

  • My thoughts too. When the WH doubled down on the failure to mention Jews, it became apparent that the white nationalists in his inner circle prevailed and Trump’s acquiescence condemns him.

  • The Jews have done an excellent job of honoring the gentiles who assisted them during this time. Far too many Catholics assisted the Nazis rounding up the Jews. The Poles you mentioned were one of the worst.

  • So if aphasia is “the inability to comprehend and formulate language because of damage to the brain,” then President Trump’s critics are suffering from it big-time! Most of them are Democrats, whose aphasia has been caused by Trump Derangement Syndrome after Hilliary Clinton lost the election to him! Everyone knows the Holocaust involved the Jews, not the Presbyterians!.

  • There are trees planted in Jerusalem for Righteous Gentiles with plaques for each name. There were more antisemitic Poles who killed Jews during the Holocaust and afterwards when they tried to return. Have you ever read Jan Gross.