On the very day Hamodia featured Sara Lehmann’s indictment of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for the Congresswoman’s provocative “concentration camp” comment, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General described the squalid nature of migrant centers along the southern border, including standing-room-only cells, children without showers and hot meals, and detainees pressing notes to windows begging for help.
Ocasio-Cortez may have been inadvertently insensitive to Jews by invoking the charged phrase to try to call attention to the conditions at the border. But to ascribe to her, as Ms. Lehmann does, a “hostile” and “dangerous” “agenda” is uncalled-for.
What is more, referring to “who and what is behind her” and asserting that she has been “recruited” and “groomed” by nefarious forces is reminiscent of the language anti-Semites use about Jews.
We frum Yidden can oppose offensive parts of the “progressive” platform without demonizing people who are simply — with or without the good judgment that comes with age — outraged at how refugee parents and children are being separated as a deterrent (the policy of the current administration; the previous one only separated children from parents or guardians deemed dangerous) and how innocent human beings are being denied basic needs. Are we rachmanim bnei rachmanim or just, like so many people these days, mere political partisans?
Mrs. Lehmann responds:
Mr. Green’s letter regarding my op-ed suggests several things, beginning with references to reports of squalid conditions at migrant centers. No doubt, these centers are not luxury accommodations for the thousands of illegal migrants who knowingly overwhelmed the immigration system. One may sympathize with the lack of showers and hot meals while assuming that the arduous trek through Central America’s rough terrain provided neither of these amenities.
While admitting that the Obama administration initiated the policy of separating families, Mr. Green castigates the Trump administration for using it as a deterrent. This conveniently ignores how the Obama administration “incited smugglers,” according to the Department of Homeland Security, by providing huge incentives for illegal aliens to smuggle children across the border, using them to avoid detention and prosecution.
Secondly, Mr. Green excuses AOC’s comments as being “inadvertently insensitive to Jews” and perhaps not having the “good judgment that comes with age.” I, too, gave AOC the benefit of the doubt before submitting all evidence to the contrary. AOC’s foray into denigrating Holocaust terminology, and in turn denigrating Jews, goes back to November when she compared migrant caravans to Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.
This time around, not only did she not apologize, she refused an invitation to tour Auschwitz and unrepentantly doubled down on defaming history’s biggest anti-Semitic atrocity. Which is not surprising for such a good friend of Rashid Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Linda Sarsour and Jeremy Corbyn. Excusing such behavior as a folly of youth is a cop-out that must then be extended to all her decision-making.
Finally, Mr. Green objects to my description of Justice Democrats’ use of AOC as mimicking anti-Semitic parlance and opposes my “demonizing” of radicals, who are “simply outraged” by the migrant crisis, which should tug at the heartstrings of “rachmanim bnei rachmanim.” Correction — these radicals are “simply outraged” by the migrant crisis under Trump. And they exploit a willing AOC much in the same way AOC exploits the Holocaust as a political ploy. To suggest moral equivalency between perpetrator and victim is shameful. And rachamim begins at home. Especially when radical progressives push a “hostile” and “dangerous” agenda anathema not only to Jewish values but to the Judeo-Christian values this country was founded on.