December 10, 2019

US Holocaust Museum Reiterates Its Rejection of Analogies with the Holocaust

Photo from Wikipedia.

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum reiterated its “unequivocal” rejection of analogies to the Holocaust in the wake of debate about concentration camps sparked by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

The museum “unequivocally rejects efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary,” the museum said in a statement. “That position has repeatedly and unambiguously been made clear in the Museum’s official statement on the matter.”

The statement linked to one last year following a similar controversy regarding migrant detention camps run by the Trump administration.

Ocasio-Cortez last week likened migrant detention camps on the border to concentration camps, and invoked the phrase “Never again.” After critics slammed her for what they said was an invocation of the Holocaust, she said she is not likening the detention camps to the camps run by the Nazis, but rather to a definition of the term that has been used for other detention camps, including those that imprisoned Japanese Americans during World War II.

The clarification did not convince all of her critics and a firestorm has continued with critics saying that she is indeed invoking the Holocaust.

The museum statement appears to be sparked by an article in World Israel News that accuses a Holocaust museum historian of embracing the view that the current migrant detention camps are analogous to Nazi-run concentration camps.

“The Museum further reiterates that a statement ascribed to a Museum staff historian regarding recent attempts to analogize the situation on the United States southern border to concentration camps in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s does not reflect the position of the Museum,” the statement said.

In fact, the historian, Becky Erbelding, had approved on Twitter of a statement by Ocasio-Cortez that likened the migrant detention camps to concentration camps, but explicitly said they were not analogous to Nazi-run concentration camps.

The World Israel News article had mischaracterized the Ocasio-Cortez statement as invoking the Holocaust. Erbelding in a statement called for a retraction and apology from World Israel News and said, “Holocaust analogies are lazy, distracting, insensitive, and incorrect.” She added in an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “I support the Museum’s stance on avoiding Holocaust analogies.”

The Holocaust Museum told JTA it stands by its statement, and did the author of the World Israel News story respond to a request for an interview.