The Simon Wiesenthal Center denounced West Virginia GOP Senate candidate John Raese on Thursday for equating a smoking ban to Hitler’s policy of forcing Jews to wear the Star of David.
A video posted on Youtube shows Raese saying that requiring stickers on buildings declaring them smoke-free is like how “Hitler used to put a Star of David on everybody’s lapel.”
“This inappropriate comparison betrays an ignorance of what really happened in Nazi Germany, and demonstrates a callousness to the millions of Jews murdered by Hitler’s Third Reich,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Center, and Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs. “It compares signs that are meant to protect people’s health with the yellow stars designed to dehumanize and degrade millions of Jews by a racist, genocidal regime,” they added.
“The Simon Wiesenthal Center has spoken out against the manipulation and distortion of the Holocaust for political purposes in the past by the left and right, and we hope that Mr. Raese’s colleagues and fellow citizens in West Virginia will register their disgust at this inappropriate analogy,” concluded Weitzman and Cooper.
Raese, however, said that he didn’t care about the Wiesenthal Center’s reaction and said he was just “reciting history.”
“I don’t see anything that’s incorrect in any of the statements I made. It’s all very factual,” he said.
The National Jewish Democratic Council as well as West Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Larry Puccio also condemned the remarks.
Raese is running against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in a rematch of a 2010 special election for the replacement of late Sen. Robert Byrd, a Democrat. Raese, a wealthy businessman, has run three times before for U.S. Senate.