Yad Vashem responded to the statements of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier this week, claiming that the US is running "concentration camps" on the US border.
"AOC: Concentration camps assured a slave labor supply to help in the Nazi effort, even as the brutality of life inside the camps helped assure the ultimate goal of "extermination through labor," Yad Vashem wrote on Twitter. "Learn about concentration camps." For AOC's convenience, Yad Vashem included a link leading to an educational page on their website entitled "Labor and Concentration camps."
"The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are," Ocasio-Cortez said on Tuesday. "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," she added, denouncing what she called the "authoritarian and fascist presidency" of Donald Trump. "I don't use those words lightly. I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is."
“Never Again means something.”
After Republicans, including Wyoming Congresswoman Elizabeth Cheney, condemned Ocasio-Cortez’s comments, the New York representative fired off a series of tweets trying to justify comparing detention centers to concentration camps, drawing a distinction between concentration camps and “death camps”.
"Since you're so eager to 'educate me,' I'm curious: What do YOU call building mass camps of people being detained without a trial? How would you dress up DHS's mass separation of thousands of children at the border from their parents?"
“This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying. This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis.”
“And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps. Concentration camps are considered by experts as the mass detention of civilians without trial. And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.”
But American Jewish organizations seemed unconvinced by Ocasio-Cortez’s explanation, noting her use of the slogan “Never Again” clearly invoked the legacy of the Holocaust.
“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 Jewish Community Relations Council wrote in an open letter to the congresswoman.
“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.”
The JCRC offered to educate Ocasio-Cortez on the Holocaust, saying: “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.”
The Zionist Organization of America’s President Morton Klein called Ocasio-Cortez’s claims “ludicrous”, “mindless and moronic” and urged the House of Representatives to censure her.
“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.”