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13:56 | 06/20/19

Yad Vashem to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: Learn about concentration camps

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks during House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing (photo credit: YURI GRIPAS / REUTERS) Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) speaks during House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing (photo credit: YURI GRIPAS / REUTERS)
“I will never apologize for calling these camps what they are,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Wednesday. “If that makes you uncomfortable, fight the camps - not the nomenclature.”
Yad Vashem, in a post on Twitter on Wednesday, has encouraged Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to educate herself about concentration camps.

This comes after the democratic representative compared migrant detention camps on the United States’ southern border to Nazi-era “concentration camps” during an Instagram Live with her followers on Monday.

“.@AOC [Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] Concentration camps assured a slave labor supply to help in the Nazi war effort, even as the brutality of life inside the camps helped assure the ultimate goal of "extermination through labor," the world Holocaust remembrance center tweeted on Wednesday evening.

“Learn about concentration camps,” Yad Vashem added, while including several links to information on Nazi concentration camps in the Holocaust. 

Following major backlash and a call from House GOP leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy for the congresswoman to apologize for her remarks, Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter on Wednesday night to defend her actions.

“I will never apologize for calling these camps what they are,” she said. “If that makes you uncomfortable, fight the camps - not the nomenclature.”

On Monday, Ocasio-Cortez said that the “United States is running concentration camps on our southern border.”

“That is exactly what they are: they are concentration camps and if that doesn’t bother you, then [I don’t know],” she said as she gestured, adding that she was speaking to those who “are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘Never Again’ means something and... that concentration camps are now an institutionalized practice in the Home of the Free [United States].”

"Never Again" is a common phrase used when pledging to never allow the atrocities experienced in the Holocaust to occur again.

“We need to do something about it,” she told her viewers. “This is not just about the immigrant communities being held in concentration camps, it’s a crisis of if America will remain America in its actual principles and values.”

She made it clear that she didn’t make such comparisons lightly.

"I don't use those words lightly," Ocasio-Cortez explained. "I don't use those words to just throw bombs.”

“I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is,” she said, highlighting that a presidency that “creates concentration camps is fascist, and it's very difficult to say that."

In response, McCarthy said during a press conference on Wednesday, “I think Congresswoman AOC needs to apologize… Not only to the nation but to the world. She does not understand history."

"To take somewhere in history where millions of Jews died...and equate that to somewhere that's happening on the border...she owes this nation an apology," he said, according to a report from The Hill.

Republican Congresswoman Rep. Liz Cheney, lashed out at Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter, saying, “Do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.”

The Republican Jewish Coalition said in a statement: “Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. It is disgraceful for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to compare our nation’s immigration policies to the horrors carried out by the Nazis.”

“We would hope that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez knows better, but sadly she does not,” the group said.

In an Esquire report from early June, several experts claimed that so far, what the US is doing on its southern border with the migrants "is similar to some prior [concentration camp] systems."

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