This past Tuesday, while people around the world were celebrating the Jewish holiday Passover with their family and friends, Sean Spicer gave a press briefing and had the audacity to compare Syrian President Bashar Assad to Hitler and said that “Hitler didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” He went on to say that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing” which anyone with an average middle-school history education knows is complete and utter bullshit.
While Spicer was conducting this briefing, which embarrassed the entire country and probably the world, most of the staff at the Anti-Defamation League had their phones and televisions turned off in observance to Passover, so they didn’t get to see it until Wednesday night when they turned everything back on. When they saw it, they were understandably shocked and appalled.
Though Spicer made a half-assed apology, it wasn’t good enough and Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of ADL, agrees and decided to send Spicer a letter on Thursday offering to conduct a training session on Holocaust awareness for the press secretary and his staff.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) April 13, 2017
Here’s the letter:
Dear Mr. Spicer:
This week Jews around the world have spent time with their families celebrating Passover, the feast of freedom. In the Passover liturgy, we read that in each generation there will be those who rise up to harm the Jewish people, much like Pharaoh in ancient times and Hitler in modern times. Understanding and being keenly aware of our history – to “never forget” – is part of Passover and part of the Jewish experience.
Unfortunately, when the first days of Passover ended and we turned on our phones and televisions yesterday evening, we learned about your comment that Hitler did not gas his own people. Your comparisons between Assad and Hitler were not only historically inaccurate but they also were inappropriate and offensive.
While you have apologized, this week’s incident as well as others (notably, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day statement omitting Jews and your vociferous defense of it), have exposed a serious gap in your knowledge of the Holocaust, its impact, and the lessons we can learn from it.
For decades, ADL has been at the forefront of Holocaust education, providing trainings about the Nazi atrocities to a wide range of groups. We have conducted trainings for more than 130,000 law enforcement professionals and more than 35,447 educators, reaching more than 1,000,000 students. Our programs provide historical context for how the Holocaust was able to occur; teach the Holocaust as a human story; and create opportunities for critical thinking. Each of these educational programs focuses on the consequences of unchecked bigotry and hate.
ADL would be happy to conduct one of these trainings at your convenience for you, your staff, and anyone at the White House who may need to learn more about the Holocaust. We know you are very busy, but we believe a few hours learning this history will help you understand where you went wrong and prevent you from making these mistakes in the future.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt
There’s no word yet whether Spicer has received the letter, or responded to it yet, but he really should take them up on this. It could save him and the rest of us a lot of embarrassment in the future, not to mention, his job could depend on it.
Featured image via Getty/Chip Somedvilla