A group of Orthodox rabbis in the US blasted Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Wednesday, over the freshman lawmaker's claim that the US federal government "is running concentration camps".
The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV), which represents over 1,000 Orthodox rabbis in the US, accused Ocasio-Cortez of "trivializing" the Holocaust.
"'Never Again' will Jews allow anti-Jewish slurs to go unchallenged, even if they are uttered by media darlings," said Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Eastern Regional Vice President of the CJV.
In comments on Instagram Monday evening, Ocasio-Cortez claimed that detention centers are "concentration camps" and said she only wants to talk to those "concerned enough with humanity... that 'Never Again' means something."
"The United States is running concentration camps on our southern border, and that is exactly what they are," the New York congresswoman said. "The fact that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the home of the free is extraordinarily disturbing, and we need to do something about it."
Defending herself on Twitter, she alternately denied comparing detention centers to death camps, quoted "experts" who said they were all part of the same spectrum, and retweeted left-wing pundits who predicted detention centers would become centers of mass murder.
The term 'Never Again' is associated with Nazi concentration camps, which served as the center-piece of Germany's mass-murder of six million Jews in World War II. The phrase was displayed on signs by newly-liberated Jews at the Buchenwald death camp in Weimar, Germany, and popularized in a book written by Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1972.
"Concentration camps were places where Nazis inflicted slave labor, torture and death upon innocent Jews removed from their homes at gunpoint and transported there in cattle cars," explained Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, Chairman of the Rabbinic Circle of the CJV. "To use Holocaust terminology regarding the refugee situation at the border is deeply offensive, and for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez to first use the term 'Never Again' and then deny making the comparison is compellingly dishonest."
"Trivializing the Holocaust is a form of Holocaust denial," Rabbi Pruzansky added. "Jews were not sneaking into countries illegally, nor did they anticipate incarceration like these illegals do. Neither are illegal immigrants forced into labor or tortured, much less being systematically murdered. It is doubly shameful that she is trying to excuse or justify her statement, rather than apologizing."