Two prominent Jewish groups strongly condemned socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's (D-NY) recent comparison of concentration camps and the Holocaust to U.S. immigration policy on the southern border.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, which represents over 60 Jewish organizations in New York City, and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) — America's largest and oldest pro-Israel group — both slammed Ocasio-Cortez over her comments.
In a letter to Ocasio-Cortez, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York said they were "deeply disturbed" by her comments which "diminishes the evil intent of the Nazis to eradicate the Jewish people." The group said they would be happy to assist Ocasio-Cortez in scheduling a visit to a concentration camp so she can learn about what happened during the Holocaust. The letter states:
Dear Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,
We are deeply disturbed by the language used in your recent Instagram live video which seeks to equate the detention centers on America’s southern border with Nazi-era Concentration Camps.
The terms “Concentration Camp” and “Never Again” are synonymous with and evocative of the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, in which 6 million European Jews were systematically denied civil and human rights due to their race and ultimately murdered in a state-sponsored genocide. As concerned as we are about the conditions experienced by migrants seeking asylum in the United States, including family separation, unusable facilities, and lack of food, water, and medical resources, the regrettable use of Holocaust terminology to describe these contemporary concerns diminishes the evil intent of the Nazis to eradicate the Jewish people.
Since 1976, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York has acted as a key resource to the New York Congressional Delegation on issues of concern to the 1.4 million member New York Jewish community. As our city is home to the largest Holocaust survivor community in the United States, we would be pleased to work with you to arrange a visit to a concentration camp, a local Holocaust museum, hear the stories of local survivors, or participate in other educational opportunities in the hopes of better understanding the horrors of the Holocaust.
Until that time, we urge you to refrain from using terminology evocative of the Holocaust to voice concerns about contemporary political issues.
Charles Temel, President
Cheryl Fishbein, President-Elect
Michael Miller, Executive Vice President and CEO
ZOA issued an even stronger statement in response to Ocasio-Cortez's remarks, which critics say amounted to Holocaust trivialization.
ZOA National President Morton Klein, whose parents survived the Holocaust, said that Ocasio-Cortez should be "censured by her colleagues" in Congress over her remarks and that "she doesn’t belong in Congress making decisions on behalf of her fellow American citizens." Klein's full statement:
AOC’s ludicrous statements that the U.S. has a “Fascist” “presidency that creates concentration camps” to hold immigrant communities, and AOC’s invocation of the Holocaust-associated slogan “never again” with respect to the housing of immigrant minors – are abhorrent insults to the memory of the 6 million Jews and the millions of gays, gypsies, and others who were intentionally slaughtered, worked to death, starved, gassed and tortured in the real Nazi-Fascist concentration camps. The real story is that the U.S. government ran out of space and has to temporarily house minor teenagers who crossed illegally into the U.S. at an army base – something that former president Obama also did. Comparing this to the horrors of the Holocaust death camps is a sin. AOC must be censured by her colleagues for this mindless and moronic analogy. She doesn’t belong in Congress making decisions on behalf of her fellow American citizens.
Ocasio-Cortez drew intense scrutiny on Tuesday after she said during an Instagram live video on Monday:
The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border and that is exactly what they are," Ocasio-Cortez alleged. "They are concentration camps. And, um, if that doesn't bother you, I don't, I don't know, I like, we can have, okay whatever.
I want to talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that we should not that ‘Never Again’ means something and that the fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing and we need to do something about it," the freshman congresswoman continued. "This week, children, immigrant children were moved to the same internment camps where the Japanese were held in, in the early, in the earlier 20th century and this is, um, this is not even about a crisis for, this is not just about the immigrant communities being held in concentration camps being a crisis.
This is a crisis for ourselves. This is a crisis on if America will remain America on its actual principles and values or if we are losing to an authoritarian and fascist presidency," Ocasio-Cortez concluded in her rant on the southern border. "And so I think that that is you know, I don't use those words lightly. I don't use those words to just throw bombs. I used that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is. A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist and it's very difficult to say that because it is very difficult to accept the fact that that is how bad things have gotten but that is how bad things are.