On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, President Trump released a statement vowing he will “do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good.”
“Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world,” Trump said.
On the same day President Trump released that statement, he signed an executive order temporarily banning refugees from entering the United States. The order bans all Syrian refugees from entering the United States until further notice, and puts in place a 120-day ban on all other refugee admission and resettlement.
The draft order also bans U.S. visa from being issues to people from seven Muslim-majority countries — Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iran — for at least 90 days. It specifically targets Muslims in those countries, providing a caveat for refugees “who are a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”
As Zaid Jilani of The Intercept wrote, “What all seven countries also have in common is that the United States government has violently intervened in them. The U.S. is currently bombing — or has bombed in the recent past — six of them. The U.S. has not bombed Iran, but has a long history of intervention including a recent cyberattack.”
The Trump administration’s move to ban refugees fleeing countries the U.S. has bombed prompted this tweet from Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT):
We bomb your country, creating a humanitarian nightmare, then lock you inside. That's a horror movie, not a foreign policy.
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) January 25, 2017
There’s another thing all seven countries involved in Trump’s Muslim ban have in common. Unlike other Muslim-majority countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or Azerbaijan, Trump doesn’t have any business interests in them.
That connection was noted by Norm Eisen, who served as White House special counsel for ethics under President Obama.
1/ WARNING: Mr. Pres. your Muslim ban excludes countries where you have business interests.That is a CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION.See u in court
— Norm Eisen (@NormEisen) January 26, 2017
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, “the UN urges every member state to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides,” of which between five and six million were Jewish. While Trump’s statement refers to “the victims,” it doesn’t mention Jews or any other targeted group.
That omission drew a rebuke from Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, which previously criticized Trump for playing upon anti-Semitic tropes during the campaign.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) January 27, 2017
Though Trump has expressed staunchly pro-Israeli views since being inaugurated as president, he and Steve Bannon — Trump’s former campaign CEO who now serves as chief White House strategist — faced numerous accusations of anti-Semitism during the campaign.
Many of the Jews targeted by Nazis before and during the Holocaust became refugees, and many of them died after being denied entry to the U.S.
“In a highly publicized event in May–June 1939, the United States refused to admit over 900 Jewish refugees who had sailed from Hamburg, Germany, on the St. Louis,” according to information provided by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. “Denied permission to land in the United States, the ship was forced to return to Europe… Of the 908 St. Louis passengers who returned to Europe, 254 (nearly 28 percent) are known to have died in the Holocaust.”
Trump argues that a temporary ban is necessary to keep America safe, but since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States has resettled almost 800,000 refugees, and none of them have carried out an attack on the country.
This piece has been updated to reflect the final text of the order signed on Friday.