MA Jewish Leaders: COVID Mandates Nothing Like HolocaustBreaking News
tags: Holocaust, public health, Holocaust Remembrance, COVID-19
Robert Trestan is the Executive Director of the Anti-Defamation League’s New England office. Becca Rausch is a descendant of a Holocaust survivor and the first Jewish person to represent the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District in the Massachusetts State Senate.
As Jewish leaders dedicated to advancing civil rights and public health, we are alarmed by the sharp rise of antisemitism in the criticism of COVID-19 mitigation measures. Whether in public hearings, on social media or in the streets, we have heard far too many vaccine and mask opponents equate the policies keeping our communities safe to Nazi Germany. Rejecting public health practices is dangerous; weaponizing the Holocaust to attack these policies is both historically inaccurate and beyond unconscionable. The genocide of over 11 million people is incomparable to the measures necessary to combat a global pandemic.
First, any attempt to compare COVID precautions to the Holocaust is a false equivalency. Mask mandates and proof of vaccination are not the Nuremberg Race Laws, which began the legal dehumanization of the Jewish population. In fact, Hitler and the Nazis withheld vaccination from Jews and others to rid the world of “undesirable” and “inferior” people. The policies of our democratic government are nowhere near the murderous edicts of Nazi Germany.
Second, they perpetuate lies about the Holocaust. The proliferation of Holocaust denial, especially on social media, is real. Twenty-three percent of respondents in a recent study said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, or had been exaggerated, or they were not sure. Nearly half (49%) reported seeing Holocaust denial or distortion posts online, and 30% had seen Nazi symbols on their social media platforms or in their communities. Denouncing COVID-19 mitigation measures by invoking Hitler’s abominations fuels Holocaust denial and antisemitism, and further drives the serious need for Holocaust and genocide education.
Third, they misappropriate and exploit symbols of the Holocaust. Co-opting the yellow star as a political prop dilutes and drastically distorts its history. In the aftermath of Kristallnacht, Jews in Nazi Germany were required to wear the star for instant identification and discrimination. Anyone who refused was subject to being shot on the spot.
When COVID deniers and people who refute data-driven public health policy wrongly invoke the Holocaust, they pervert history, trivialize the memories of victims and survivors, and desensitize people to the monstrous atrocities that occurred.
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