Unlike Yad Vashem and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Dr. Becky Erbelding, historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, appears to support Ocasio-Cortez’s comparison of American detention centers to concentration camps.
By Atara Beck, World Israel News
Controversial U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez caused outrage last Monday when she compared American detention centers for illegal immigrants at the southern border to concentration camps.
The U.S. is “running concentration camps on our southern border,” she stated on social media, adding that she’d like to speak to those “who are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something.” She also referred to the Trump administration as “authoritarian and fascist.”
Senior Jewish organizations slammed her remarks.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said the congresswoman was “insulting victims of genocide.” Likewise, the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center advised the congresswoman to “learn about concentration camps.”
Polish lawmaker Dominik invited Ocasio-Cortez to visit the Nazi concentration camps. “I am formally inviting @AOC to come to Poland, where Adolf Hitler set up the worst chain of concentration camps the world has ever seen,” he tweeted, “So that she may see that scoring political points with enflamed rhetoric is unacceptable in our contemporary Western societies.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Becky Erbelding, an educator and historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, appears to support the congresswoman’s position.
“The parallels to the 1930s-1940s refugee crisis are so obvious. Why can’t we learn?” Erbelding tweeted in 2018, in reference to a PBS article titled “For Refugees in the Trump Era, a Tougher Path to the U.S.”
She retweeted a comment that appeared to back the freshman congresswoman’s ‘concentration camp’ remarks, calling it “a Geppetto checkmark.”
World Israel News (WIN) emailed Erbelding, asking for clarification as to whether she, too, would classify the American detention centers as concentration camps.
“Does it at all cheapen the Holocaust?” WIN asked. “What motivated you to jump into this debate?”
Blocking reporters who ask questions
Not only did Erbelding not respond, but she blocked the WIN journalist from her Twitter account.
WIN then emailed the three top communications staff at USHMM, asking whether Erbelding’s comments reflect USHMM policy and where the institution stands on the issue.
Andrew Hollinger, the museum’s communications director, responded briefly:
“The content you are referencing comes from Dr. Erbelding’s personal Twitter account. No content on that account reflects Museum policy.”
Despite a follow-up email, he did not say what the museum’s policy is.
Historian Gil Troy, in an interview with JNS concerning Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks, slammed the congresswoman, saying, “Anyone who compares the complicated set of tensions both Democrats and Republicans have been forced to make around immigration—as leaders of a complicated democracy—with the evils of Nazi concentration camps is both deeply ignorant and instinctively anti-American, shockingly unaware of the moral difference between democracy and dictatorship, and probably unable to distinguish between the two.”
CLARIFICATION: The tweet by Dr. Becky Erbelding cited below regarding parallels between current US immigration policy and the 1930s-1940s refugee crisis was from January 2018 and was clearly not a reaction to Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez’s recent comparison of US detention centers to concentration camps. Any implication to the contrary was unintentional.