The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York has published an open letter to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, taking her to task for referring to the detention facilities the Trump administration is using to hold undocumented persons as concentration camps. The JCRC’s letter claims that “concentration camps” and “never again” are terms connected with and that should only be used with reference to Nazi crimes, and using it with reference to asylum seekers and others “diminishes the evil intent of the Nazis” to eradicate all Jews.
Here’s their tweet, with a scan of the letter attached to it.
The JCRC of New York is, simply put, wrong.
Concentration camps predated the Nazis. The British used them in South Africa during what is sometimes called the Anglo-Boer War or simply the Boer War. Concentration camps are simply that: camps in which persons are segregated from the general population of an area and kept concentrated in a single place, usually for ethnic, racial, or political reasons.
DHS and (soon) Defense Department detention facilities satisfy that definition.
As a Jew, I refuse to limit the application of “never again” to only genocide. Mass displacement and mass political detention of a specific ethnic group, or of a number of people, carried out for political reasons are enough reason to apply the label.
A crime against humanity is enough.
Nothing else is credible in the presence of burning children, to follow Yitz Greenberg’s dictum.
The NY JCRC is wrong. You can tell your friends that this rabbi said so.