U.S. Vice President and prominent evangelical Mike Pence is being criticized by some Jews for allegedly using imagery related to Jesus Christ when marking Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday, but Pence's language is common among Jews as well.
Pence, who recently visited Jerusalem, wrote in a Twitter message on Saturday:
"A few days ago, Karen & I paid our respects at Yad Vashem to honor the six million Jewish martyrs of the Holocaust who three years after walking beneath the shadow of death, rose up from the ashes to resurrect themselves to reclaim a Jewish future."
Some Jewish voices condemned the language Pence used, arguing that "rose up from the ashes" alludes to Jesus' resurrection and so is an attempt to Christianize the day.
Brian Beutler, editor in chief of Crooked.com, said, "Mike Pence Jesused all of us Jews without our consent. What a smug, condescending fraud."
Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe also took issue with the phrase "resurrect themselves."
"Pence dishonors the memories of the 6 million by coopting them for the political agenda of his evangelical base," he wrote.
Matthew Yglesias, a journalist and co-founder of Vox.com, added, "Israel was founded by people who were alive. The six million were murdered — dead — they didn't rise up and do it." And, "I really thought last year's thing where they left out the Jews was a Holocaust Remembrance Day low point but Pence has taken this to new places in an amazing way."
Israeli newspaper Haaretz argued in an article on Monday, however, that Pence's wording is in fact commonly used in Israel.
"The word 'resurrection,' which has strong Christian connotations in English, is also a legitimate translation of the Hebrew word tekuma, which also can be translated as 'rebirth,' 'recovery' or 'revival.' It is frequently used to describe the establishment of the State of Israel following the Holocaust in the phrase 'Shoah v'tekuma,'" Haaretz corespondent Allison Kaplan Sommer pointed out.
She noted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also in the past publicly described Israel as "rising from the ashes" of the Holocaust.
Pence also retweeted the White House's official statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday, which marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland.
"Our Nation is indebted to the Holocaust's survivors," U.S. President Donald Trump said.
"Despite the trauma they carry with them, they continue to educate us by sharing their experiences, strength, wisdom, and generosity of spirit to advance respect for human rights."
Trump's recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel meanwhile put Pence in hot water in another context, namely when meeting Arab world leaders strongly opposed to the development.
Pence said following a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi in Egypt and King Abdullah II in Jordan that there is "a disagreement between friends" when it comes to Trump's decision on Jerusalem, attempting to assure the U.S. allies that America supports a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
Palestinian leaders refused to meet with Pence during his West Bank visit, however, with the office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas declaring that the U.S. has "crossed red lines" on Jerusalem.