Trump, at Yad Vashem, calls Israel a ‘soaring monument’ to ‘Never Again’


JERUSALEM (JTA) — President Donald Trump called the State of Israel “a soaring monument to the solemn pledge we repeat and affirm.’Never again,’” during a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust center.

Trump and his wife Melania lay a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance on Tuesday afternoon.

The president, wearing a black kippah, also was accompanied by his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Trump also lit a candle at the eternal flame in the hall.

Israel, Trump said, is “testament to the unbreakable spirit of the Jewish people.”

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“The Jewish people persevered. They have thrived. They have become so successful in so many places, and they have enlightened the world,” he said.

He said that it is every person’s duty “to remember to mourn, to grieve, and to honor” each life lost in the Holocaust.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who with his wife Sara attended the ceremony, responded that the people of Israel “pledge never to be defenseless against that hatred again.” To achieve this, he said “Israel must always be able to defend itself.” Netanyahu thanked Trump for the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security.

Trump was presented with a replica of a personal album that belonged to a German Holocaust victim, Ester Goldstein. While most of the Jews who contributed photographs and handwritten messages were killed in the Holocaust, Ester’s older sister, Margot Herschenbaum, 91, survived and briefly met the president.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem.

In public statements, both leaders condemned the suicide bomb attack at a concert in Manchester hours earlier.

“Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded,” Trump also said, an apparent reference to Palestinian payments to the families of terrorists. He also called for zero tolerance for terror. “We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single unified voice,” he said.

Trump spoke of achieving a peace deal, saying: “I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal. President Abbas assures me he is ready to work toward that goal in good faith, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has promised the same. I look forward to working with these leaders toward a lasting peace.”

In his remarks, Abbas said that he has no problem with Judaism. The Palestinians’ “fundamental problem is with occupation and settlements and the failure of Israel to recognize the state of Palestine as we recognize it,” he said.