MUNICH, Germany—Vice President Mike Pence, during a tour of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp where millions of Jews were put to death during World War II, warned that anti-Semitism is still alive, well, and growing at an alarming rate in the United States and abroad.
Pence, on the heels his participation in a global conference in Warsaw aimed at confronting Iran—one of the chief international purveyors of Jew hatred—warned that historical dark days like those of the Holocaust begin "with vile rhetoric."
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Pence's comments on anti-Semitism come at a noteworthy time in the United States, as Democrats in Congress grapple with rising anti-Semitism in their own ranks. Thanks to a class of newly elected freshman Democrats such as Reps. Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and others, anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel is quickly becoming a topic du jour in America.
Omar, for instance, has made multiple anti-Semitic statements and appears to be unrepentant about her hatred of Israel and what the nation represents to global Jewry.
.@IlhanMN's office door is plastered with notes of support. Don't for a second believe that antisemitism is dead in America. This is not about bullshit apologies or needing 'education'. Hatred of Jews is alive, well, & thriving in the halls of Congress. And you are tolerating it. pic.twitter.com/aN7ey5dSeV
— Adam Kredo (@Kredo0) February 13, 2019
"Well we just walked to the end of the road of anti-Semitism in Auschwitz and that's why anti-Semitism needs to be universally condemned," Pence said as he finished his tour of the infamous death camp.
"And you know, you see a rise of anti-Semitic violence in Europe, I saw a report last week. I think it was in France, of a rise in anti-Semitic violence, horrific attack in Pittsburgh, and that's, you know the history in Central Europe, that's how it begins," Pence said, referring to a recent deadly attack on a synagogue in Pennsylvania.
"It begins with vile rhetoric, then proceeds into violence," Pence said.
"You know it's hard to put into words," Pence said, visibly moved by his experience. "It's very hard to put into words. I expect you all are experiencing it the same even as you're trying to report on it. The sheer scope of what happened there. The dimensions of what happened there, it's unspeakable."
Pence also took aim at Iran for its routine vows to destroy the Jewish state of Israel.
"As I said yesterday, Iran says that the goal of Iran is to wipe Israel off of the map of the Middle East," Pence said. "And the lesson of the 20th Century is that when authoritarian leaders breathe out anti-Semitic threats of violence against the Jewish people freedoms loving people should take them seriously and be prepared to confront them."
"For me it simply strengthens my resolve, strengthens our resolve to come time to stand strong against Iran," he said.
Faced with questions from the White House pool alleging that the Trump administration has at times entertained anti-Jewish rhetoric and groups, Pence pushed back hard.
"There is no tolerance in our administration for white supremacists or anti-Semitism," he said. "And I thought in his State of the Union address the president through the words of great Americans, showed his heart to the American people on that issue."