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Statement on President Obama's Speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Increased Sanctions on Iran and Syria


Location: Washington, DC

Today, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20), who represents a district with one of the largest Holocaust survivor populations in the U.S., praised President Obama for his solemn devotion to Holocaust remembrance and his continued, unequivocal dedication to preventing atrocities around the world. The President toured the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with survivor Elie Wiesel and then addressed a crowd of survivors and their families, supporters of the museum, diplomats, and U.S. lawmakers.

"This morning, President Obama spoke at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, honoring the sacred memory of the Shoah's victims, the unrelenting courage of the survivors, and our shared commitment to forging a more peaceful world," said Rep. Wasserman Schultz. "From the unparalleled brutality of Nazi Germany and the ashes of Europe, the survivors of the Holocaust have taught our world to learn from the past, so that we will never forget.

"Unfortunately, as we know too well, terror and hatred still inflict their ugliness and violence on our world. Genocide did not end with the Holocaust, as the past half century has seen mass atrocities perpetrated on the people of Rwanda, Bosnia, and Sudan. Tyrants like Syria's Bashar al-Assad still oppress their citizens while brave protesters unflinchingly continue their fight for freedom and peace. And Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flagrantly denies the Holocaust while threatening a new annihilation of the Jewish people.

"Given the imperfect state of our world, President Obama has devoted the resources of his Administration to rooting out this kind of evil before it occurs. He created a new Atrocities Prevention Board, bringing together senior officials from across the government to focus the utmost attention on targeting and eliminating these acts of hate. He implemented a new series of government "alert channels" that will quickly identify and recognize information about developing crises. And he strengthened the available tools of the Treasury Department, State Department, and USAID to combat human rights abuses and acts of mass violence. As the President said, "…we need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities -- because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people.'

"Importantly, the President also issued an Executive Order today, implementing new sanctions on Iran and Syria, which target companies that aid the regimes in carrying out human rights abuses. These new sanctions are the latest example of the President's unwavering commitment to protect the United States, Israel, and the peace-seeking citizens of Iran and Syria from the brutality of their oppressive regimes. As the President said, "I've signed an executive order that authorizes new sanctions against the Syrian government and Iran and those that abet them by using technologies to monitor, track and target citizens for violence. These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them.'

"Standing with Elie Wiesel in the somber shadows of our nation's Holocaust Memorial, the President has taken on the difficult task of memorializing the darkness of the past by rededicating our nation to forging a better future. This day, as all days, he has made it clear: we must never give up, and we must never forget."

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