President Obama warned of growing anti-Semitism in the United States and the world Wednesday as he honored two Americans and two Poles who helped save Jewish lives during World War II.
“Here, tonight, we must confront the reality that around the world, anti-Semitism is on the rise. We cannot deny it,” Obama said at a Holocaust remembrance ceremony at the Israeli embassy Wednesday night. He cited Jews fleeing European cities, attacks on Jewish centers in Mumbai, India and Overland Park, Kan. and swastikas on college campuses.
“When we see all that and more, we must not be silent,” Obama said.
Obama spoke at a “Righteous Among the Nations” awards ceremony on International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 71st anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, which honors those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
Obama was the first president to speak at the Israeli embassy. He was introduced by Steven Spielberg, the director of the Holocaust movie Schindler’s List. “This president has a Jewish soul,” Spielberg said.
Obama honored four people who helped save Jewish lives during World War II, including Army Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds, who was detained at a German prison camp with 1,000 other American soldiers. When a Nazi commander asked the Jewish soldiers to identify themselves, Edmonds ordered all his men to step forward. “”We are all Jews here,” Edmonds said.
“I cannot imagine a greater expression of Christianity than to say, ‘I, too, am a Jew,'” Obama said. “An attack on any faith is an attack on all of our faiths. It is an attack on that golden rule at the heart of so many faiths — that we ought to do unto others as we would have done to us.”
Also honored Wednesday night: Lois Gunden, a 26-year-old French language teacher from Indiana who saved Jewish children while working at a Mennonite school in southern France during the war, and Polish citizens Walery and Maryla Zbijewski, who housed a girl from the Warsaw ghetto.