Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper called Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) comparing immigration detention centers on the border to concentration camps an “insult to victims of the Shoah.”
In a June 17 Instagram live stream, Ocasio-Cortez said that “the United States is running concentration camps on our southern border” and that she wanted to “talk to the people that are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘Never Again’ means something.”
Ocasio-Cortez defended her remarks in tweets on Tuesday stating that “concentration camps are not the same as death camps.”
Cooper said in a statement to the Journal that Ocasio-Cortez “should speak with Holocaust survivors and ex GIs who liberated them from the hell that was Dachau” since it’s an “insult to victims of Shoah to make [a] blatant false comparison.” He added that Ocasio-Cortez is resorting to “lurid imagery” for media attention.
“AOC and her fellow members of Congress from both parties have a moral obligation to fix the humanitarian disaster at the border,” Cooper said. “If they don’t there will only be more needless suffering and all of them, including AOC will be responsible. Stop demeaning memory and start doing your damn job.”
Cooper later elaborated in a Fox News Op-ed that initially “Nazi concentration camps were opened where German socialists, communists, labor leaders, dissidents, and Jews were targeted for persecution, torture and even death” in 1933; when World War II started the “concentration camps were death camps where innocent Jewish men women and children were murdered or died of disease or starvation.”
He added that while the Simon Wiesenthal Center has spoken out against the child separation policy at the border, the migrants “are not being murdered by the millions, their bodies then turned to ashes in crematoria” and that “calling [President Donald] Trump a fascist and implying he is following in the footsteps of Nazi Fuhrer Adolf Hitler has no basis in reality.
Former Democratic New York State Assemblyman and Founder of Americans Against Antisemitism Dov Hikind tweeted, “@AOC desecrates the memories of six million Jews who were brutally murdered all in the name of disingenuous political calculations! Hey AOC, go visit Auschwitz before you ever utter the word ‘Holocaust’ again!!”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) defended Ocasio-Cortez in a tweet stating, “One of the lessons from the Holocaust is ‘Never Again’ – not only to mass murder, but also to the dehumanization of people, violations of basic rights, and assaults on our common morality. We fail to learn that lesson when we don’t callout such inhumanity right in front of us.”
According to Jewish Virtual Library, concentration camps is typically defined as “a wide number of places of internment created by Nazi Germany, which served a variety of functions and were called by different names: labor camps (Arbeitslager); transit camps (Durchgangslager); prisoner-of-war camps (Kriegsgefangenlager); concentration camps (Konzentrationslager KZ), and death camps or killing centers, often referred to in Nazi parlance as extermination camps (Vernichtungslager).”