An open letter to AOC: Camps, cages and a bissele Yiddish
An open letter to AOC: Camps, cages and a bissele Yiddish

Dear AOC,

Sometimes I wonder whether your initials stand for Additional Outlandish Comments.  Labeling detention camps as concentration camps coupled with descriptions of detained children in cages are truly beyond the pale.  For icing on your convoluted cake, you borrow the phrase Never Again, a term coined by Rabbi Meir Kahane who proclaimed, following WWII,  that never again would Jews be victimized.  

AOC,  you and I are landsleit, a Yiddish word describing people who come from the same town. I was born in the East Bronx, your current district. I grew up there when Yiddish was spoken in the neighborhood but if the residents of then were alive today, they would consider your comments a dreadful chutzpah, Yiddish for audacity.

Why exactly are Jews in particular so outraged by your comments? Let’s avoid comparisons of detention camps with concentration camps. So many have already weighed in on that topic, I would instead like to focus on the inmates; who were they and how did they come to be imprisoned in  camps?

Prior to and during WWII, the Germans engaged in profiling.  They planned to eliminate Jews, Roma, members of the LGBT community and righteous individuals caught offering assistance to victims.  The German SS, the German Wehrmacht and local police of the various countries in which these groups resided, ruthlessly rounded up people, marched them at gunpoint to collection centers, brutally herded them into cattle cars and transported them across borders to, among other destinations,  concentration camps. Neither food nor water was provided. No restrooms either; a bucket placed in the center of the car for two hundred and fifty people, possibly more with no privacy. A trip to Gehenim. Yiddish for hell.

Passports, visas, exit documents, entry documents? None required no matter how many countries traversed.  The Germans didn’t care. They told victims they were slated for resettlement in the east but the true destination was either a work camp or a death camp and the ultimate goal was murder or more accurately extermination, especially of Jews.   The world was to be Yudenrein, clear of Jews.  And that is how six million Jewish lives came to be destroyed.   

And yes, there were children in cages.  The diabolical physician of Auschwitz, Joseph Mengele, YImach shmo, Yiddish for may his name be erased, experimented on twins. He placed them in cages while injecting them with horrific substances and performing sadistic procedures. Testimonies by surviving twins have been recorded. 

In contrast, the immigrants massing at the Texas border have left their homes of their own volition seeking to escape poverty and unfavorable political conditions of their home countries.   They are being detained at the border because they seek entry into the United States and need to be properly vetted. Among them may be criminals, terrorists, drug lords and other undesirables.  Processing is slow but while temporarily detained, the United States does not deliberately cause harm to anyone and certainly does not seek the death of anyone by starvation, overwork or gassing. 

By superimposing Holocaust terminology on the Texas detainees, you are marginalizing at best and obliterating at worst,  our historic experience.
AOC, your absurd suggestion that the United States has established concentration camps in Texas, defames America and the compassionate American people.  Throughout it’s history, America has been a beacon of hope and opportunity for a better life to the nations of the world. Isn’t that why the Texan detainees have converged there? 

Secondly AOC, you have joined those who do not fehrgin, Yiddish for begrudges, as in fehrgin us Jews our successes or  our tsuris, Yiddish for troubles.  By superimposing Holocaust terminology on the Texas detainees, you are marginalizing at best and obliterating at worst,  our historic experience. Henceforth concentration camps and children in cages will conjure up illegal immigrants held in detention camps on the Texas border while the true victims of these horrific experiences, namely Jews  will eventually be forgotten.

There are those who suggest you are ignorant of history or intellectually stupid.  I believe they err. What you have done and seek to do is quite clever. Take note, we Jews are not going to stand by silently as  our narrative is stolen by others for their own agendas. It is a shandeh, Yiddish for disgraceful and behavior unworthy of anyone, let alone a member of the United States Congress.