Opinion: Don’t Separate Families at the Border — but Don’t Expropriate the Holocaust Either


By Abraham Cooper

As an Orthodox rabbi, it is not for me to comment on US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ invocation of the New Testament to justify separating children from parents who were caught trying to illegally enter the US at the Mexican border. Suffice it to say that New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who represents 2.6 million Catholics, called the crackdown “unbiblical.”

Speaking for our constituency at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, we said the following:

Like millions of Americans on both sides of the political divide, we want our leaders to solve the humanitarian crisis at hand. No matter what the divisions are over immigration policies, it is unacceptable to separate little children from their parents. That isn’t what America stands for. Those are not our values. We urge immediate steps to ameliorate this situation and for the Administration and Congress to finally take the necessary steps to end this problem.

We are not naïve, and know full well that it will take nothing short of a miracle to triangulate the divergent views of Democrats, Republicans, and President Trump and come up with a comprehensive solution to all the issues related to illegal immigration. Now in the midst of the contentious debate, there are some thoughtful legislators, including Senator Ted Cruz and Congressman Mark Meadows, who are weighing in to deal with the children caught in the middle. And yesterday, Donald Trump issued an executive order that he claimed would end the practice of parents being separated from their children.

Without action on immigration, our society will lurch from emotional and incendiary crisis to crisis — sometimes focusing on an innocent child’s wail, sometimes on the sobs of a bereaved family robbed of a loved one by a criminal who never should have been in the United States in the first place.

But there is another victim of the children at the border debate: historic truth.

Those entrusted with protecting the memory of the six million victims of the Nazi Holocaust — and teaching lessons from history’s greatest crime, which included the mass murder of 1.5 million Jewish children — are shocked by the wholesale and dishonest expropriation of the symbols and imagery of the Holocaust by critics of the treatment of children at the US border.

For starters, Wikipedia now includes the detention centers where these children are held in the article about Concentration and Internment camps. Social media has been abuzz with comparisons including to the infamous Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp, where innocents were beaten, starved, and gassed to death.

No less than former CIA Director Michael Hayden, now a CNN pundit, posted a picture of the entrance to the infamous Auschwitz death camp. He later offered an “apology” that read more like gloating over “overachieving.” A more apt lesson for Hayden from that era was the failure of the CIA’s World War II predecessor, the OSS, to do anything to stop or slow down the Nazi genocide of Jews.

Then there was MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough who opened “Morning Joe” last Friday by declaring: “Children are being marched away to showers — just like the Nazis said they were taking people to the showers, and then they never came back. You’d think they would use another trick.”

On Sunday, another cable commentator insisted, “Increasingly, Donald Trump is turning this nation into Nazi Germany and turning these [detention centers] into concentration camps.”

Social media postings invoked the same imagery and talking points.

For 25 years, our Museum of Tolerance has educated millions of visitors, including 160,000 law enforcement officials, about Auschwitz, Anne Frank, and the murder of 1.5 million Jewish children and their families by the Nazi perpetrators of the genocidal “Final Solution.” Visitors also learn about today’s real-time civil and human rights crises, and contemporary mass murder and genocide.

But we would never tell a young visitor that every human rights outrage is equivalent to Auschwitz. That is a lie. We can only hope that the depths of its moral depravity will never again be repeated in our world.

Finally, the images emanating from along the Texas border are powerful enough to inspire people to act without deploying Holocaust imagery that demonizes other Americans and debases the memory of six million murdered Jews.

US border guards and Homeland Security personnel are not Nazis. Critics should stop slandering them. We live in the world’s greatest democracy. Our elected officials have the tools to fix what’s broken.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean and director of global social action agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization. He has been a longtime activist for Jewish and human rights causes.



  1. this subject is disgusting. are some saying that the jews, in the time of the holocaust, were banging down the doors of the camps to get in? if parents are bringing their kids to what his being compared to concentration camps and the showers being compared to those that poured forth death, then the ‘parents’ can only be considered vile for forcing their own children on the US.

  2. Jewish leaders should implore all those who have appropriated the Shoah to be compelled to visit the Museums to be “educated” and see for themselves. Obviously they have not even the remote concept of what they are associating with.
    To base any rhetoric, policy or dialog on the cries of a child is ludicrous. Anyone who has a child knows well that a child will cry at the drop of a hat. The crying story was accompanied by the picture of the little girl. We NOW know that this was just as much a distortion as using the Shoah. That mother was not separated from her child. Furthermore, she left a husband and three other kids in Honduras. The husband has a decent job as captain, so they are not impoverished, and we should know that, since the mother gave the smugglers Six Thousand dollars. And this isn’t the firs time. She was deported several years ago.
    The question of Japanese Internment camps may not be such a simple matter. There was a program that recounted those events. Apparently Only those Japanese that refused to give their loyalty to the US were interned at these camps. The Japanese are likely singled out because they look “different”. Few seem to be aware that immigrants of German descent were also interned most likely because of a growing support base for Nazi Germany.

  3. Leftist blabbering. How come the left are not bothered by tens of thousands of American children separated from their parents incarcerated in the US prison system. Or why aren’t they bothered by hundreds of thousands of children being forcefully separated from their parents through family courts? Is it OK for American children to loose their parents, but not OK for the south of the border illegal squatters’ children? Obviously, the whole outrage is made up. The left doesn’t care about children staying with their families, or about the whole concept of family for that matter – in fact, leftists are big proponents of the big state being in charge of raising children. It is just an excuse to promote third world immigration, so as to replace right of center American voters with DemocRat electing drones.

    • Another Trumpet who keeps regurgitating Hannity. Yes, there is a difference between a misdoneaner and a felony.
      This statement is in fact common sense, so don’t expect Trumpets to agree with the criticism of Trump’ s policy.
      This statement is in fact common sense, so don’t expect Leftists to agree with the criticism of the comparison to Holocaust.
      The only ones who will agree with this statement are the true Conservatives, those few people who still have common sense.

      • Dear Yup, you are yapping up the wrong tree here. Gather up your attention span, try to comprehend my 3:49pm comment, then reply to all my points. Calling people Trumpets is a sign of a feeble mind.
        P.S. I’m far from a spelling nazi, not even a native English speaker, but “misdoneaner” seriously?!

        • Mr. Yup, as you can see from the responses to your comment, the Trumpets aren’t going to change their views. They are people who spend all day listening to talk radio, and view everything as a battle between right and left. The rest of us look at issues as battle between right and wrong, and when Trump is wrong, we are willing to say it. The Trumpets just look at everything as either pro Trump or anti trump. That is why, when Abraham Copper (definitely not a leftist) releases this common sense comment, they all go off about how the left are a bunch of hypocrites…. that is true, the left couldn’t care less, but that doesn’t somehow turn what Trump is doing I to the right thing. As long as their religion is Hannity-keitnn, they will continue to justify anything Trump does, no matter how bad it is, even when he goes against common sense, even when he goes against conservative principles that the same talk show host have defended for years.
          And don’t mind the snarky comments about your typos and about Jeb, it is just a reflection of how little there is in the defence of this current policy.

          • Dear MD, does your MD supply you with enough meds? Who cares about Hannity? Deal with the issues raised. The bottom line is that this double standard outrage about illegal squatters’ children, while disregarding much more widespread separation of American families, is all manipulation straight from Saul Alinsky’s manual; regardless of whether some self identifying conservatives are naive enough to accept the left’s premise.

  4. I apologize for the typo, the fact that my typing on a phone is poor definitely means that my point is wrong.
    And as I said, the above statement is common sense. I would highly recommend shutting off Hannity for a week or two, just avoid all political commentary, and let your mind clear out, start thinking on your own. Believe me, a week or two without talk radio won’t make you into a leftist. But you will be willing to aknowledge the imperfections of our dear president.

    • More yapping. Other than incorrectly implying that misdemeanor US prison inmates don’t have their kids separated, and other than repeating “common sense” without explaining why it makes sense, you haven’t addressed points made in June 22 3:49pm post. You are wrong about assuming I listen to Hannity. I sometimes listen to Rush, but I haven’t listened in weeks. Besides, I am capable of independent critical thinking without being given marching orders, unlike your typical liberal or RINO.

  5. These same liberal scumbags support hamas and iran in their bid to destroy Israel slimeballs the lot of them remember it was the liberal new york times which downplayed the holocaust and now attacks Israel and supports its enemies every turn democrats are anti Israel scum from the top down all these scumbags supported giving the Iranian fuhrer billions of dollars to fund the murder of Jews in Israel anyone voting for a democrat is voting for the party that supports finishing what hitler started the destruction of the Jews feh

    • Who is talking about voting for a leftist? We are just pointing out that this Trump policy is wrong. Yes, if faced with a choice of Trump or a dem, we would choose Trump. Bit if faced with a choice of a conservative or Trump, it’s conservative, hands down.


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