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On Friday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited Auschwitz, along with Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, Polish President Andrzej Duda, and Polish First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda. Pence, who was formerly Governor of Indiana and a U.S. Congressman from Indiana, is an evangelical Christian with a long history of philo-Semitism and a consistent promotion a pro-Israel U.S. foreign policy. This was Pence’s first trip to Auschwitz, which is perhaps the single most iconic of all the Nazis’ sundry concentration camps and death camps. Over 1.1 million people died at Auschwitz — the vast majority of them Jews.
The Times of Israel reports on Pence’s visit:
Pence toured an exhibition hall that includes human hair and personal belongings of the victims before a wreath-laying at the Death Wall in a courtyard where prisoners were executed. Many of those shot there were Poles who were part of the underground resistance against the German occupation.
The two couples walked side-by-side to the wall for the wreath laying. The Pences held hands and the vice president adjusted a banner reading “From The People of the United States of America.”
Kushner was among a second group that then approached the wall and wreaths.
The second part of the visit took them to the nearby satellite camp of Birkenau, the site of the murder of Jews from across Europe. Pence knelt and bowed his head, placing his hand on a historic red train car on the train tracks used to bring Jews to their deaths there.
The couples also placed candles at a memorial to the Holocaust victims, with Pence wearing a Jewish skullcap. Poland’s chief rabbi recited a prayer to the dead.
Pence came to Auschwitz from Warsaw, where he appeared and spoke at a U.S.-sponsored conference about the Middle East. The Daily Wire reported on the conference on Wednesday. Pence did not equivocate in his condemnation of the terrorist Iranian regime at the Warsaw conference, accusing the ruling mullocracy of openly advocating “another Holocaust.” While in Warsaw, Pence visited other Holocaust-era Jewish commemoration sites, including the site of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 15, 2019
Pence’s visit to Auchwitz follows closely his public condemnation of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) for her recent anti-Semitic comments. “[email protected] tweets were a disgrace & her apology was inadequate,” Pence tweeted. “Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress, much less the Foreign Affairs Committee. Those who engage in anti-Semitic tropes should not just be denounced, they should face consequences for their words.”
.@IlhanMN tweets were a disgrace & her apology was inadequate. Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress, much less the Foreign Affairs Committee. Those who engage in anti-Semitic tropes should not just be denounced, they should face consequences for their words.
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) February 13, 2019
The Vice President elaborated in comments to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell:
Representative Omar’s tweets were a disgrace. Anti-Semitism has no place in the United States Congress or anywhere in our country or the free world. I think it was right for Democrat leaders to condemn those remarks but I think it’s important that people that articulate anti-Semitic views are also held accountable. The Republican leadership was right to condemn Steven King’s remarks and also to remove him from the committee. There were consequences to what he said, and unless Representative Omar resigns from Congress, at minimum Democrat leaders should remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
I served on that committee for more than a decade Andrea, one of the things that always united that committee was strong support for our relationship with Israel and a strong condemnation of anti-Semitism. The truth is anti-Semitism is not just wrong, it’s dangerous and Polish Jews during the Nazi occupation experienced that in one of the darkest chapters in human history. I’ll be at the Warsaw ghetto tomorrow, my wife and I will pay our respects at Auschwitz on Friday. It’s important that the leaders in the Congress take a firm stand against anti-Semitism rhetoric and I think it requires consequences in this case.