Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- NY) has generated controversy after referring to migrant detention camps along the U.S. southern border as “concentration camps” while employing the Holocaust phrase “Never Again”. Although many media figures have attempted to hold Ms. Ocasio-Cortez accountable for her reprehensible comments, Democrats have largely stood by her.
The situation at the border is a humanitarian crisis that necessities an urgent remedy, yet comparing it to the Shoah disrespects six million Jewish martyrs and debilitates pro-migrant activism. The Holocaust was a uniquely horrifying event in human history, a systematic dehumanization and extermination of millions of human beings. It was presumably the conclusion of millennia of Jewish suffering, although recent developments indicate otherwise.
Ultimately, Ocasio-Cortez’s comments are not only offensive to the Jews and others who perished in Nazi Europe, but they are also indicative of a growing left-wing campaign to universalize the Shoah and to attack at the heart of modern Jewish identity. The Jewish people have endured expulsions, exile, massacres, pogroms, and genocide for 3,700 years of our existence as a people. Antisemitism did not begin with Hitler’s rise to power, and it did not end when Berlin fell seventy-four years ago. Following the rebirth of Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael, antisemitism mutated into a visceral hatred of Israel and Zionism, the Jewish national liberation movement. The failure to acknowledge the abiding subjugation of the Jewish people by those evoking the Shoah today is nothing short of a mockery in the ears of the slaughtered.
Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez fails to grasp the eternality of Jewish suffering and the inherent Jewishness of the Shoah. The scars of genocide and exile are forever ingrained in the Jewish national psyche. Jews, not migrants or people of color, were rounded up into ghettos by the Nazis. Jews were transferred in cattle cars to concentration and extermination camps, and six million Jews were exterminated like pests in the gas chambers and ovens of Nazi Europe. All we can do now is to remember their suffering and to ensure that it never happens again.
The Congresswoman’s most concerning remarks were in response to a tweet from Representative Liz Cheney (R-WY). When Mrs. Cheney acknowledged that the Nazis exterminated the Jews of Europe, Ocasio-Cortez replied in a fury of self-righteousness and historical illiteracy:
Also @Liz_Cheney, the fact that you employed the horrifying word “exterminated” here (co-opting the language of the oppressor) tells us that it’s *you* that needs to brush up on your reading.
Hope you enjoy defending concentration camps. I won’t back down fighting against them. https://t.co/OOfrrfa1Ew
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 18, 2019
To Ocasio-Cortez, acknowledging the suffering of Jews in full is unacceptable because it exposes the inherent truth about the Holocaust: it was a Jewish genocide. The Jews of Europe, a wandering people left without a home for two millennia, were rounded up, gassed, and burned. They were, in the eyes of Europe and the world, pests unworthy of life itself.
Today, nearly three-quarters a century since the Shoah, far-left allies of Ocasio-Cortez (along with the far-right) view Zionist Jews––Israelis and pro-Israel Americans––as pests and the most immoral, inhumane people on Earth. That is why many on the hard-left do everything possible to ignore the Jewishness of the Shoah, because acknowledging it would be an admission of the enduring eternality of Jewish suffering. It would negate the claims that Jews and Israelis are a privileged, elite people, the enemies of leftism and the obstacle to peace. When the Holocaust is reduced to merely a trite genocide of people, rather than an unprecedented extermination of the Jewish people, it becomes possible to simultaneously exploit “concentration camps” and ignore the persecution of Jews today.
In defense of the de-Judaization of the Shoah, far-left reporter CJ Werleman tweeted:
The Holocaust Industry (aka Israel Lobby) has long sought exclusive rights to the term “concentration camp” in order to prevent you describing Gaza in that way.
— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) June 20, 2019
CJ said the quiet part out loud. The left views Jews today as a privileged people and the Holocaust as a tragedy to everyone, not just to Jews. To many, the Jewish nature of Holocaust remembrance is proof that Jews exploit the Holocaust for personal gain. Of course, this accusation in itself rebrands ancient tropes about Jewish greed and duplicity.
In truth, the term “concentration camp” should only be used when describing the Holocaust. A third of the Jewish people were gassed to death in the span of six years, yet we cannot even keep that term to remember their suffering? Shame on those who exploit the suffering of slaughtered Jews and minimize their pain. Never again.