Yad Vashem urges US politicians to end ‘divisive anti-Semitic language’

Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum runs ads in New York Times and Washington Post during AIPAC conference

Visitors seen at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 24, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Visitors seen at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem on January 24, 2018 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

JTA — Yad Vashem, Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, placed an advertisement in The New York Times and The Washington Post during the AIPAC conference urging politicians to stop using “divisive anti-Semitic language and distorted Holocaust references.”

Concern had focused recently on at least two instances of such discourse made by US lawmakers, Republican Mo Brooks from Alabama and Democrat Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

“We implore all leaders and citizens to refrain from hateful discourse, and to reaffirm the common humanity that binds us together. Divisive anti-Semitic language and distorted Holocaust references voiced by politicians and too many others is deeply troubling,” the ad read.

The ad referred to recent “horrible results of unbridled hatred,” namely the attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue building that left 11 dead, and attacks on two mosques in New Zealand that left 50 dead, and included a quote from famed Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel: “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

On Monday, Alabama Republican Congressman Mo Brooks compared Democrats and the media with the Nazis and quoted Adolf Hitler during a speech on the floor of the US House of Representatives.

Brooks condemned the Robert Mueller investigation and its supporters, accusing Democrats and members of the media of propagating a “big lie” about possible collusion with the Russians by the Trump White House. He quoted from Hitler’s 1925 book “Mein Kampf,” in which the Nazi leader coined the term “big lie” to describe propaganda that Hitler said placed unfair blame on Germany for World War I. Hitler’s own propagandists later embraced the tactic.

Last month, freshman Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar came under fire for posting successive tweets suggesting that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the pro-Israel lobby, pays politicians to be pro-Israel. Democratic and Republican leaders condemned the tweets as echoing anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jews, money and power.

AIPAC does not donate to candidates or endorse them. Omar subsequently apologized for the tweets.

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