Jewish Democrats, Republican trade shots on Holocaust allusions

Well, it sounded like a good idea.

Yesterday the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) urged candidates in both parties to sign a "pledge to condemn and repudiate abusive Holocaust comparisons and anti-Semitic rhetoric carried out by anyone claiming to support my candidacy or attending my campaign events.”

According to NJDC CEO Ira Forman:

"In the current toxic political environment, an increasing number of voices have employed inappropriate Holocaust and outright anti-Semitic rhetoric to score political points. At an official House Republican press conference before ‘Tea Party’ activists in November, for example, political rhetoric opposing health insurance reform invoked disgusting Holocaust imagery and outright anti-Semitism. Top political leaders including House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) and House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN) stood before a crowd that held a banner displaying a stack of dead bodies at Dachau, titled ‘National Socialist Health Care Plan, Dachau, Germany – 1945.’ Yet another sign suggested that ‘Obama takes his orders from the Rothchilds’ [sic].”

NJDC said the call was bi-partisan, but the examples cited were Republicans, and the partisan group praised the leading Democratic candidates in this year’s hotly contested Illinois Senate race for agreeing to forswear Holocaust references.
The Republican Jewish Coalition quickly responded, saying the NJDC campaign “doesn’t pass the laugh test…. This ‘campaign’ appears to be aimed at the strong Republican frontrunner for President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat, Rep. Mark Kirk.”

The NJDC “conveniently forgot to include in its account the remarks of Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) who likened our health care system to the Holocaust, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s reference to swastikas at town hall meetings, and Rep. Brian Baird’s (D-WA) reference to town hall protesters as "brownshirts" last summer. Grayson’s remarks were so egregious that he was admonished publicly by the Anti-Defamation League.”

Actually, Pelosi was protesting protesters who were invoking the Nazi symbol to express opposition to Democratic health care reform proposals, but let’s not quibble about details.

If the ADL ever decides to get really  serious about politicians invoking the Holocaust to score political points, it wouldn’t have time to do anything else.  Holocaust imagery comprise political Words of Mass Destruction, and politicians in both parties just can’t seem to resist the temptation to fling them with abandon.

The RJC is right in that pols in both parties are guilty; the NJDC is right in that most of the Holocaust references we’re hearing these days come from anti-Obama, anti-government and anti-health care crusaders on the right and the “tea partiers” who are trying to reshape the GOP in their image.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.