Amanpour says she ‘regrets’ Trump-Kristallnacht comparison after criticism

CNN’s chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour apologized Monday for comparing President Trump’s term in office to the historical turning point in Germany and Europe that culminated in the Holocaust and the genocide of six million Jews.

Amanpour issued her apology following outrage over her remarks where she compared the first four years of the Trump administration to Kristallnacht, an outbreak of fatal violence against Jews in Europe over the course of two days in 1938. Amanpour elicited criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and officials in the Trump administration and Israeli government who demanded an apology. 

On Monday, the international correspondent said on her program that she regrets any pain her comments caused and that she should not have “juxtaposed” Trump’s “attacks on history, facts, knowledge and truth” with the commemoration of the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht. 

“And finally tonight, a comment on my program at the end of last week. I observed the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht, as I often do – it is the event that began the horrors of the Holocaust. I also noted President Trump’s attacks on history, facts, knowledge, and truth. I should not have juxtaposed the two thoughts,” she said. 

“Hitler and his evils stand alone, of course, in history. I regret any pain my statement may have caused. My point was to say how democracy can potentially slip away, and how we must always zealously guard our democratic values.”

Amanpour, on her show last week, marked the 82nd anniversary of Kristallnacht as an assault on “fact, knowledge, history and truth” and said the last four years under Trump were a “modern-day” assault on those same values” and that President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris pledge “a return to norms.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Twitter called Amanpour’s comments “despicable” and said the CNN anchor “must apologize for trivializing the Holocaust and the tragic genocide of millions of Jews.”

Israel’s minister of diaspora affairs, Omer Yankelevich, on Sunday accused Amanpour of drawing the comparison for the sake of “cheap headlines or a political agenda” and called on CNN to be a partner in fighting anti-Semitism and to not fuel the fire, the Hebrew-language newspaper Israel Hayom reported.

Other Israeli officials also took issue with Amanpour’s invocation of the Holocaust.

Israel’s consul general in Atlanta, Anat Sultan-Dadon, wrote to CNN’s executive vice president, Rick Davis, expressing outrage over Amanpour’s use of the Holocaust and the anniversary of Kristallnacht for political means and said it disrespects those who died, The Jerusalem Post reported.

The Anti-Defamation League also reacted to Amanpour’s comments, writing on Twitter that “there’s no analogue between the Holocaust and what’s taking place in the U.S.”

“Pundits & politicians should avoid such facile comparisons. They are offensive & insensitive to the memory of the #Shoah,” using the Hebrew word for Holocaust.

Kristallnacht, known in English as the Night of Broken Glass, refers to the outbreak of anti-Jewish demonstrations on the night of Nov. 9, 1938, in Germany, Austria and the Sudetenland region of what was then Czechoslovakia.

Over the course of two days and encouraged by Nazi officials, violent mobs destroyed hundreds of synagogues, attacked 7,500 Jewish-owned businesses, homes and schools, and murdered at least 91 Jews. An additional 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum defines Kristallnacht as “a turning point in the history of the Third Reich, marking the shift from anti-Semitic rhetoric and legislation to the violent, aggressive anti-Jewish measures that would culminate with the Holocaust” and the murder of six million Jews.  

Updated at 6:33 p.m.

Tags Christiane Amanpour Donald Trump Joe Biden Kristallnacht Trump administration

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