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August 13, 2019 3:52 pm

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Refuses to Apologize for Comparing US Border Detention Facilities to Nazi Concentration Camps

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Photo: Reuters/Erin Scott.

Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) pointedly refused to apologize or express regret for her comparison of US border detention facilities to the Nazi concentration camps.

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez made the comparison in a video posted online in June.

“I don’t regret it at all,” she told ABC News in an interview on Friday.  “A group, in fact of, I think 200, at least 200, historians, rabbis, academics have come together in support of this term.”

She did not specify which group this referred to or who its members are.

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Ocasio-Cortez also reiterated her comparison, saying, “I’ve seen it. I’ve sat on concrete floors with woman whose hair was falling out and they’re developing sores in their mouth.”

“Parents are dying with their children watching them and all without a trial, all with just an accusation, and all with the intent to dehumanize,” she added.

She said accusations of antisemitism against her for her statement, which many saw as minimizing the Holocaust, were “ahistorical.”

Cortez’s original remarks, “The US is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are,” were almost universally condemned by Jewish advocacy groups.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, directed Ocasio-Cortez to a 2018 statement saying, “People need to be extremely careful in drawing comparisons to the Holocaust and the Nazi regime in whatever context it is used.”

Top officials from the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York tweeted an open letter to Ocasio-Cortez, saying they were “deeply disturbed by the language” she used.

“The terms ‘Concentration Camp’ and ‘Never Again’ are synonymous with and evocative of the atrocities committed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany,” the letter penned by President Charles S. Temel, President-Elect Cheryl Fishbein, and Executive Vice President and CEO Michael S. Miller asserted.

“As concerned as we are about the conditions experienced by migrants seeking asylum in the United States … the regrettable use of Holocaust terminology to describe these contemporary concerns diminishes the evil intent of the Nazis to eradicate the Jewish people,” the authors stated.

Noting that New York City had the largest community of Holocaust survivors in the world, the officials said, “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 education opportunities in the hopes of a better understanding of 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,” they concluded.

Ocasio-Cortez later refused an invitation from 93-year-old Holocaust survivor Edward Mosberg to tour the remains of the Auschwitz death camp.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center attacked Ocasio-Cortez’s comparison as well, saying, “She is insulting victims of genocide.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition also criticized Ocasio-Cortez, saying, “Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. It is disgraceful for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to compare our nation’s immigration policies to the horrors carried out by the Nazis. We would hope that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez knows better, but sadly she does not.”

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