Following White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s spreading of “alternative facts” about the Holocaust, the Anti-Defamation League has offered to provide him with a little education.
On Tuesday, when comparing Syrian President Bashar Assad to Adolf Hitler, Spicer described Hitler as someone “who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons” — disregarding the fact that 6 million Jews were killed by Nazis in the Holocaust during World War II, and many were executed in gas chambers.
In response, ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt penned an open letter to Spicer, offering Holocaust education “at your convenience for you, your staff, and anyone at the White House who may need to learn more about the Holocaust.”
Greenblatt said on Twitter he was “outraged” by Spicer’s display at the press conference.
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) April 13, 2017
“Your comparisons between Assad and Hitler were not only historically inaccurate but they also were inappropriate and offensive,” Greenblatt wrote.
“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.”
“We know you are very busy,” the letter concludes, “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.”
The White House spokesman is under fire for his recent comment, while the alt-right accuses Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser, of “putting the interests of Israel” first.
Spicer has since apologized for the incident, calling it a mistake when he “used an inappropriate and insensitive reference to the Holocaust” to make a point about Assad.
But despite the apology, this is not Spicer’s first time making waves with the Jewish community.
“The issue at hand is that this isn’t the first time that he or other people at the White House have gotten pretty basic facts about the Holocaust wrong,” Greenblatt told USA Today. “The issue here isn’t just about calling [Spicer] out, it’s about helping him get it right.”
In January the White House’s statement in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day made no mention of Jewish victims of the Holocaust — an omission that did not go unnoticed.
Greenblatt also told USA Today that “as of 8:45 p.m. ET Thursday night, he’d received no response to the training offer.”
The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect on Tuesday called on Spicer to resign.
“On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death,” said Executive Director Steven Goldstein, adding, “Sean Spicer now lacks the integrity to serve as White House press secretary, and President Trump must fire him at once.”
The White House also made some waves when President Donald Trump opted not to attend the annual White House Passover Seder on Monday night, a tradition started under former President Barack Obama in 2009. Obama attended the event each year he was in office, and his family participated as well. A spokeswoman told PEOPLE magazine that the event was primarily intended for “staff who were unable to get home to spend the holiday with their families.”