An online poll last month asking how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust was meant not to trivialize the Shoah, but rather to remind the public of its magnitude, Anthony Scaramucci, the short-lived White House Communications Director, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
Some two months after being deposed by US President Donald Trump as communications director in July after The New Yorker published his obscenity laced tirade against leaks from the White House, Scaramucci’s online news outlet, the Scaramucci Post, tweeted out a poll asking, “How many Jews were killed in the Holocaust?”
When the poll triggered outrage amid claims it gave a back-wind to Holocaust deniers, it was pulled, with Scaramucci apologizing
for it and pledging to donate $25,000
to the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Three days later, however, the poll reappeared
“I have an Orthodox Jewish partner named Lance Leifer,” explained Scaramucci, currently in the country exploring business possibilities as the guest of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce. “One of his family members is a Holocaust survivor, and he was upset that Amazon was displaying an Anne Frank costume for Halloween.”
Leifer, according to Scaramucci, thought that this was a trivialization of the Holocaust, and put out the poll because he wanted to “prove his thesis that many people were not aware of the magnitude and the volume of the atrocity.”
Scaramucci, who was in London at the time the poll came out, said that “the way we handled it, just putting the poll up without any context, was ham-handed on our part.”
The intention behind the poll, he said, “was to educate people. I think that if the living memory of this atrocity goes by the wayside, that is a calamity for the entire world, not just Jewry. From a content and intention perspective, we were trying to do the right thing. I think that stylistically we failed.”
Earlier, at a press briefing, Scaramucci – who joked that his 11-day tenure sounds longer if “you think of it in terms of seconds, 86,000 actually” – said many Americans did not have an “accurate understanding of Israel and its place in their lives. If we listened to our own media we would see it as a land of war and conflict and inflamed emotions.”
Israelis as well, he said, would do well to look at their country from time to time as others see it.
“You have to look at ourselves every once in awhile the way others see you, as opposed to the way you see yourselves,” he said. “I would imagine that in America we are very critical of each other, and then people from the outside say, “Look at what these people did over 200 years.
“I would say the same thing about you guys. Look at what you have done over 70 years. Look at how amazing this country is. You are fighting with each other and throwing food at each other in the political debate, but when you step back from it you have an economic miracle going on here. I read that you have more start-ups here then in all of Western Europe. You just have to think about that for a minute.”
Spicing his comments up with a few disparaging Yiddish words, Scaramucci said he has the benefit of looking at the country as “a goy [non-Jew] who knows the difference between a shegetz [non-Jewish man] and a shiksa [non-Jewish woman]”
He continued: “What I can tell you from the outside is that I see a permanency to the State of Israel. Form an outsider's perspective I see an eternal homeland for the Jewish people that was actually granted to the Jewish people by God.”
If the capital of that homeland and the State of Israel is Jerusalem, he added, “I think think we should move the embassy.”
Scaramucci, who stressed on a number of occasions that he was speaking as a private citizen, said that the failure of Trump to move the embassy is due to “the governmental process in place. When decisions are made of that magnitude, I think there is a level of deliberation that would slow down a very fast moving person like the president.”
Referring to reports that the Trump team is in the process of putting together a comprehensive peace proposal, Scaramucci said that Israel need not worry that – Trump will try to “ram something down its throat.”
He also said he did not believe that Trump would change his supportive policy toward Israel or the diplomatic process because the American Jewish community is largely not supportive of him.
Trump, said Scaramucci, is a “very unique political individual” who does not view himself as a politician, but rather as a “fixer, a builder, as someone who can bring people together.”
“This is one of the intractable problems of our time,” he said, referring to the Mideast.
“We know if there is peace here, there will be more stability in the region, which will mean more stability around the world. So if you are the American president -- where people are voting for you or not voting for you, and you are more focused on what is inherently right or wrong, rather than left or right -- you will want to serve the interest of mankind by trying to come up with a way to have peace here. I see that in him. So even though my [Jewish] friends on the Upper West side [of Manhattan] probably didn't vote for him -- I think they went 93% against him or something crazy like that – that's fine, I don't think he really cares about that.”