July 18, 2019

Omar Defends AOC’s Concentration Camps Comments

Photo from Flickr.

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) defended Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) comparison of migrant detention facilities on the United States-Mexico border to concentration camps on June 21, saying that she didn’t understand the controversy surrounding Ocasio-Cortez’s comments.

When a reporter asked Omar about Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks, Omar replied, “There are camps and people are being concentrated. This is very simple. I don’t even know why this is a controversial thing for her to say.”

Omar proceeded to call for the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and to be replaced with a different immigration agency.

“There’s no way we can allow for kids to be caged in this country and children to be separated from their families and people being terrorized in their communities,” Omar said. “We have to make sure that we are calling it out and I am 100 percent with [Ocasio-Cortez].”

Omar similarly said in a June 20 Public Radio International interview about Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks, “If we separate it from death camps, I would say these are camps and people are being concentrated in them. And so that’s the general definition. I think a lot of people are conflating what a death camp looks like or a specific removal of people. These people are coming to the border. We are removing them from the border. We are placing them in camps. Some of them are being removed from communities and being put in what we’re calling detention centers — but are essentially camps.”

Former New York Democrat Assemblyman Dov Hikind tweeted that “it was only a matter of short time before [Omar] would follow @AOC in distorting Holocaust history for political gain!”

Omar has previously been in hot water for promulgating the dual loyalty anti-Semitic trope as well as saying that Israel “hypnotizing the world.”

Yad Vashem International Institute for Holocaust Research Senior Historian Dr. Robert Rozett noted in a June 20 Times of Israel piece that Ocasio-Cortez use of the phrase “never again” when comparing the detention facilities to concentration camps “she was referring to Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust, and not the early version of such camps established by Imperial Germany in its Namibia colony at the turn of the 20th century.” Rozett added that concentration camps has become the common term to describe the Nazi camps, including Auschwitz, which were either labor camps, where they were forced to work for the Nazi war effort under brutal conditions that could result in death, or extermination camps.

“Jews who were sent to labor camps, and were not worked to death in them, generally underwent a periodic selection where those deemed too weak to work were sent to extermination camps,” Rozett wrote. “Although it was a tenuous lifeline, labor sometimes constituted one of the few means for Jews to remain alive.”

Rozett added, “The Nazi concentration camps were many things, but they were not detention or internment camps in a classic sense. They were not the same as the internment camps set up for Japanese Americans in World War II (as abysmal as they were for the inmates), and neither were they the same as the Gulag camps under Stalin. The Gulag did not lack for brutality and death, but its ultimate goal, was not to murder inmates but to exploit their labor. The clearest evidence of this is that Gulag inmates who produced more were fed better, a norm totally absent from Nazi camps.”

Additionally, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust joined the Dallas Holocaust Museum and Center for Education and Tolerance, Florida Holocaust Museum, Holocaust Museum Houston, Illinois Holocaust Museum, Michigan Holocaust Memorial Center, and New York City’s Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in condemning Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks as “inappropriate and offensive” in a June 19 statement.

“The Nazi regime targeted Europe’s Jews for murder. It created a vast forced labor and camp system to exploit Jewish labor before murdering them,” the statement read. “Ocasio-Cortez’s inaccurate reference diminishes the inexpressible horror suffered at the hands of Adolf Hitler, the Nazi regime, and collaborators and wrongly equates current US immigration policy with the systematic murder of six million Jews and the persecution of millions of others.”

Ocasio-Cortez has continued to defend her concentration camps comparison on Twitter.