U.S. President Barack Obama rejected Holocaust denial during a visit to the Buchenwald Death Camp in Germany on Friday. However, some said a day earlier he unfairly compared Jewish suffering under Nazi Germany to the plight of the Palestinian Authority Arabs.
“To this day, there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened – a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful,” Obama said in the German death camp which witnessed the death of some 56,000 people, more than 50,000 of whom were Jews.
“I have no patience for people who deny history,” Obama added, “And the history of the Holocaust is not something speculative.”
Many saw Obama’s visit to the Buchenwald concentration camp as an attempt to balance his Cairo speech a day earlier in which he reached out to the Muslim world. Obama also referenced Jewish suffering in that speech, hinting to the Muslim world that it must end widespread Holocaust denial.
Accompanying the U.S. president on his tour was Nobel Prize Winner Elie Wiesel, who himself survived the horrors of Buchenwald. He related to Obama the suffering he endured while watching his father die at the camp, and warned that “the world hasn’t learned” the lessons of the Holocaust.
In his Cairo address, Obama spoke about Arab suffering immediately after he mentioned the Holocaust. “It is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland,” he said.
Obama was widely criticized for comparing the death of six million Jews to the situation of of PA Arabs.
“Obama made a shocking parallel between the destruction of European Jewry and the suffering that the Arabs of Israel brought upon themselves when they declared war on Israel,” Ichud Leumi (National Union) MK Aryeh Eldad said.
“If Obama does not understand the difference between them, perhaps he will understand it better when he visits the Buchenwald concentration camp in the comings days. And if he doesn’t understand it even there, then Islam will once again teach it to him, just as it taught his predecessor on 9/11.”
American Jews were also disappointed with Obama’s speech, and the Zionist Organization of America became the first group to officially issue a harsh condemnation of it on Friday.
“This was a primarily strongly biased speech, inimical to Israel, supportive of false Palestinian and Arab claims against Israel, and blatantly factually inaccurate,” ZOA President Morton A. Klein said.
“The President’s remarks in this speech may well signal the beginning of a renunciation of America’s strategic alliance with Israel,” he added.