THEN-US PRESIDENT Barack Obama participates in a wreath laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance during his visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem on March 22, 2013. Pictured behind Obama are, from left, Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, then-president Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yad Vashem .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Reluctant to comment on ongoing speculation in the Israeli media over whether or not Donald Trump will visit Yad Vashem during his trip to Israel next week, a representative for the Holocaust memorial would only tell The Jerusalem Post Sunday that “as far as Yad Vashem knows, the American president will visit here.”
“We understand that the president’s schedule for his trip has yet to be finalized,” the representative added. Last week, Channel 2 reported that Trump’s tentative schedule included a “possible visit” to Yad Vashem, an obligatory component of the packed schedules of heads of state and dignitaries visiting Israel.
Trump is also due to visit Masada and the Western Wall, as well as meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Yad Vashem refused to comment on media reports that US officials had requested that a tour of the museum would be cut from half an hour to 15 minutes. Yad Vashem has said that once it is notified of the exact details of the visit it will prepare accordingly.
While visits to Yad Vashem may vary in content, a standard visit by a foreign state leader usually includes a tour of the Holocaust History Museum or Museum of Holocaust Art, participation in a memorial ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance, a visit to the Children’s Memorial and signing the Yad Vashem Guest Book.
The nature of Trump’s visit to the memorial is of particular interest in light of the shaky start his administration got off to regarding matters pertaining to the Holocaust – an issue that has not gone unnoticed by Yad Vashem.
In his first statement about the Holocaust as president, just weeks after his inauguration, Trump sparked controversy by omitting any mention of the Jews or antisemitism on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Trump condemns antisemitism on Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day (credit: REUTERS)
The White House defended its statement, noting that Jews were not the only victims of Nazi slaughter.
Several days later, Yad Vashem put out a statement stressing “to all that the Holocaust was the unprecedented genocide of six million Jews, perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, motivated by a radically racist, antisemitic ideology, which sought the annihilation of the Jewish people, its culture and its heritage.”
While the statement was released in connection with the events held in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it was interpreted by many as a response to the White House statement.
Last month, Yad Vashem released a statement directly addressing comments made by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who, while discussing a suspected chemical weapon in Syria, said that Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons.
Yad Vashem reacted by expressing deep concern regarding the “inaccurate and insensitive use of terms” and urged Spicer to visit its website and learn about the Holocaust.
VIRTUAL TOUR OF YAD VASHEM'S NEW HOLOCAUST MUSEUM (CREDIT: YAD VASHEM)