World

'I, too, am a Jew': Barack Obama warns of growing anti-Semitism

Washington: President Barack Obama has warned of growing anti-Semitism in the United States and the world while honouring 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," Mr Obama said at a Holocaust remembrance ceremony at the Israeli embassy on Wednesday night. He cited Jews fleeing European cities, attacks on Jewish centres in Mumbai, India, and Overland Park, Kansas, and swastikas on college campuses.

More News Videos

Obama: 'We are all Jews'

US President Barack Obama proclaims, 'we are all Jews' and calls for fighting what he says is rising antisemitism around the world.

"When we see all that and more, we must not be silent," Mr Obama said.

He 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 honours those who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.

US President Barack Obama speaks at the Righteous Among the Nations award ceremony honouring several people who helped ...
US President Barack Obama speaks at the Righteous Among the Nations award ceremony honouring several people who helped save Jewish lives during World War II. Photo: Getty Images

Mr 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.

Mr Obama honoured four people who helped save Jewish lives during World War II, including Army Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds, who was detained at a German prison camp with 1000 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," Master Sergeant Edmonds said.

Advertisement

"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 honoured on Wednesday night were: 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.

US President Barack Obama sits next to filmmaker Steven Spielberg at the Righteous Among the Nations award ceremony.
US President Barack Obama sits next to filmmaker Steven Spielberg at the Righteous Among the Nations award ceremony. Photo: Getty Images

TNS

Follow FairfaxForeign on Twitter

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg tells the Righteous Among the Nations gathering: "This president [Barack Obama] has a Jewish ...
Filmmaker Steven Spielberg tells the Righteous Among the Nations gathering: "This president [Barack Obama] has a Jewish soul." Photo: Getty Images

Follow FairfaxForeign on Facebook