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Posted by on May 25, 2017 in History, International, Israel, Media, Politics | 0 comments

Donald Trump’s ‘Kilroy Was Here’

Engraving of Kilroy on the WWII Memorial in Washington DC

Many heads of state, high government officials and dignitaries have visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s official and solemn monument of remembrance and tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, a magnificent Memorial located on the western slope of Mount Herzl, also known as the Mount of Remembrance.

As is customary, many visitors sign the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum guestbook, known as its “Book of Remembrance” and write down their thoughts about their visit to such a sacred place.

Some messages are somewhat long.

When Senator Barack Obama visited Yad Vashem in the summer of 2008, he penned:

“I am grateful to Yad Vashem and all of those responsible for this remarkable institution. At a time of great peril and promise, war and strife, we are blessed to have such a powerful reminder of man’s potential for great evil, but also our capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world.

Let our children come here, and know this history, so that they can add their voices to proclaim ‘never again.’ And may we remember those who perished, not only as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed like us, and who have become symbols of the human spirit.”

Other messages are somewhat short.

President George W. Bush who also visited Yad Vashem in 2008, signed his name to the very brief message, “God Bless Israel.”

It was reported at the time the President had tears in his eyes as he toured the Memorial.

First Lady Laura Bush “left a more eloquent note” when she visited Yad Vashem in 2005”:

“Each life is precious. Each memory calls us to action. To honor those lost we commit ourselves to reject hatred and to teach tolerance and live in peace.”

In 2009, Hillary Clinton visited the Holocaust Memorial as Secretary of State and wrote the following heartfelt, powerful note:

Yad Vashem is a testament to the power of truth in the face of denial, the resilience of the human spirit in the face of despair, the triumph of the Jewish people over murder and destruction and a reminder to all people that the lessons of the Holocaust must never be forgotten. God bless Israel and its future.

This Tuesday in Israel, after a brief fifteen-minute visit to the Center, the new U.S. president left the following tweet-like note in the Guestbook:

“It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends. So amazing & will Never Forget!”

Some have praised Trump’s note, but many others are characterizing it variously as signing the “document as though it were the guest book at a bar mitzvah,” or, as Times of Israel reporter Raoul Wootliff tweets, “He forgot: ‘See you next summer’.”

Kenzie Bryant at Vanity Fair writes:

Today, Donald Trump wrote a message that reads, “It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends — so amazing and will NEVER FORGET!” “Wow, Trump just finished middle school and wrote a nice note to commemorate his experience in a pal’s yearbook! Delightful!” is a thing one might think after reading it. “Did Trump have a nice time at summer camp this year?”, is another thought that could easily cross one’s mind. That note, however, now lives in Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum guestbook, better known as its “book of remembrance.”

To be fair, Trump’s spoken remarks at Yad Vashem have been well received, prompting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to thank Trump for a speech “that in so few words said so much.”

Unfortunately for Trump, says the New Century Times, “his note in the guestbook will remain a historical record, long after his brief speech will be forgotten. Of course, that could be by design. Trump is still straddling a fine line between appeasing his anti-semitic supporters and appeasing the GOP, Israel first, base.”

Lead image: By Luis Rubio from Alexandria, VA, USA – Kilroy was here, CC BY 2.0

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