Miller says Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism of border situation offends him ‘as a Jew’
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Miller says Ocasio-Cortez’s criticism of border situation offends him ‘as a Jew’

Asked about US president’s ‘go back’ tweets, Trump aide pivots to expression of outrage at Democratic congresswoman’s concentration camp comparison

US President Donald Trump's senior adviser for policy Stephen Miller speaks during a daily briefing at the White House on August 2, 2017 (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)
US President Donald Trump's senior adviser for policy Stephen Miller speaks during a daily briefing at the White House on August 2, 2017 (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

US presidential aide and immigration hardliner Stephen Miller accused Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York of minimizing the severity of the Holocaust on Sunday, telling Fox News that her comments about the situation on the Mexican border offended him “as a Jew.”

In an apparent attempt to deflect attention away from a question about US President Donald Trump’s recent tweet calling for Ocasio-Cortez and three other lawmakers of color to “go back” where they came from, Miller took the freshman congresswoman to task for her recent comments describing government-run immigrant detention facilities as “concentration camps.”

“I’m a Jew. As a Jew, as an American Jew, I am profoundly outraged by the comments from Ocasio-Cortez,” he said.

“It is a historical smear. It is a sinful comment. It minimizes the death of six millions of my Jewish brothers and sisters. It minimizes their suffering and it paints every patriotic law enforcement officer as a war criminal and those are the comments… that we need to be focusing on.”

Trump has accused Ocasio-Cortez, along with Democratic representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, of not loving the United States of America, igniting a firestorm of debate a week ago when he tweeted that the four “came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world.”

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done,” Trump wrote.

All four legislators are American citizens and three of them were born in the United States.

From left, Democratic representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts respond to remarks by US President Donald Trump after his call for the four Democratic congresswomen to go back to their “broken” countries, during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, July 15, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Omar and Tlaib have been criticized for trading in classic anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish control of the political system, a fact which Trump mentioned repeatedly in his online attacks.

“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said,” wrote Trump. “I can tell you that they have made Israel feel abandoned by the US.”

Trump’s comments have angered many American Jews. The Anti-Defamation League described them as racist and called on him to stop using Israel and Jews as a “shield,” The American Jewish Committee also told Trump to leave the Jews out of it.

The Republican Jewish Coalition’s executive director, Matt Brooks, decried those at last Wednesday night’s Trump rally in North Carolina who chanted “send her back” when Trump again called Omar an anti-Semite. (Trump said he was “not happy” with the chant and tried to speak over it, but the media counted the seconds he allowed the cry to mount: 13.)

It’s believed that Trump and some fellow Republicans are trying to turn the four lawmakers into the face of the Democratic Party as the 2020 presidential campaign heats up, and are relying on divisive rhetoric on the issues of race and immigration used to stoke the political base in 2016.

The president’s words, according to Miller, were part of a political campaign to put America first and were not intended to sow discord, while the first-term lawmakers are bent on expressing “anti-American sentiment.”

Miller, during Sunday’s television interview, was shown several video clips of then-candidate Trump lambasting the United States, calling Barack Obama “the most ignorant president in our history” and saying “nobody respects us.”

Criticizing Obama’s leadership, the future Republican president said, “We don’t know what we’re doing.”

Trying to explain why the lawmakers’ complaints should be seen as worse than Trump’s, Miller said there is no comparison between agitating for stricter enforcement of immigration laws and better trade deals, as he said Trump was doing, and threatening to undermine the American way of life, as he asserted the lawmakers want to do. “They detest America as it exists,” Miller said.

Miller, who is widely seen as the force behind the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policies, has come under fire from many in the American Jewish community, including his childhood rabbi, who charged that he “didn’t get my, or our, Jewish message.”

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