Tourists visit the Hall of Names in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, May 1, 2011, in Jerusalem, on the eve of Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "a renewed anti-Seminitism is spreading" at the start of the cabinet meeting today. Israelis will commemorate the six million Jewish victims who perished under Hitler on Holocaust Remembrance Day. UPI/Debbie Hill

White House spokesman Spicer apologizes for Holocaust statement

The International Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, Yad Va-Shem, condemned remarks made by US White House Spokesman Sean Spicer and urged him to visit the museum’s website to learn about World War Two history and Hitler’s extermination camps. Spicer triggered an uproar this week by saying Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons during world war two as opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad, in an apparent attempt to demonize the Syrian government and urge Russia to relinquish its support for Damascus. 

“You look, we didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II. You know, you had a, you know, someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons. So, you have to, if you’re Russia, ask yourself is this a country that you, and a regime, that you want to align yourself with? You have previously signed on to international agreements rightfully acknowledging that the use of chemical weapons should be out of bounds by every country,” said Spicer.

Spokesman Spicer immediately apologized for his comments, after they drew strong criticism around the world for overlooking the fact that millions of Jews were murdered in Nazi gas chambers. 

“I’m well aware of what he did. But again, it was a distinction that didn’t need to get made. They’ve both done horrendous, heinous things to innocent people. To make any kind of comparison is really regrettable and a mistake.” / “I’m absolutely sorry, especially during a week like this to make a comparison that is inappropriate and inexcusable,” apologized Spicer.

Israel’s Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz welcomed the apology by the White House spokesman, stressing that the matter is over due to the fact that Spicer retracted his remarks. Nevertheless, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem raised concerns that the statements by the White House Spokesman are liable to strengthen those who seek to distort the history of the Holocaust.  

“In light of the recent statements by the White House Press Secretary, Yad Vashem encourages him to visit our website to learn more about the Holocaust and its period in history. Yad Vashem expresses deep concern about the inaccurate and insensitive use of terms related to the Holocaust by the White House Press Secretary. His statements imply a profound lack of knowledge of the events of World War Two, including the Holocaust. Moreover, they are liable to strengthen those whose goal is to distort history,” said Dr. Robert Rozett, Yad Vashem Libraries Director.

Nazi Germany, during World War Two, murdered some six million Jews, many of them killed in gas chambers in European concentration camps.