Jewish organizations, leaders and lawmakers on Wednesday roundly condemned Rep. Warren Davidson for invoking Holocaust imagery in response to a new proof of vaccination requirement to dine indoors in Washington.
Davidson, a Republican from Ohio, posted an image of a Nazi Germany-era health pass in an attempt to draw equivalency to the new mandate instituted as COVID cases surge across the country.
The Auschwitz Memorial directly responded to Davidson, saying that "exploiting of the tragedy of all people who between 1933-45 suffered, were humiliated, tortured [and] murdered by the totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany in a debate about vaccines [and COVID] limitations in the time of global pandemic is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay."
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt called Davidson's tweets "dangerous and deranged," describing it as a form of Holocaust distortionism. "Don't compare the Nazi's brutal dehumanization and systematic genocide of six million Jewish people to asking someone to show a vaccination card," Greenblatt added. "[It's] wrong and it needs to stop."
Rep. Dean Phillips, a Jewish Democrat from Minnesota, told CNN's Jake Tapper that he had confronted Davidson over the "I told him that the use of such imagery wasn't just a repugnant and dangerous false equivalency, but deeply offensive and painful for Jewish people," Phillips told CNN.
"I said I'd debate mandates and tyranny whenever he wishes, but there's no debate on the offense of his post. He could have cared less." Phillips also noted later that Davidson's tweet violated German law in itself."
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, too, condemned Davidson's "vile comments comparing the murder of 6 million Jews to vaccine and mask policies that will save lives".
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Reps. Judy Chu, Tom Malinowski, Bill Pascrell Jr., Ruben Gallego also directly replied to Davidson harshly rejecting his attempted equivalency.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger is the lone Republican so far to publicly criticize Davidson, telling Tapper that "every Republican leader needs to be condemning that kind of BS right now."
"For Congressman Davidson to equate vaccine mandates with the systematic extermination of six million Jews by the Nazis is beyond repugnant," said Cathy Heldman, director of the American Jewish Committee's Cincinnati office in Davidson's district. "We call on him to apologize for this hurtful and completely inappropriate comparison. Antisemitic tropes have no place in the conversation about COVID vaccines.”
Davidson is the sixth Republican member of Congress to make such comparisons, joining like-minded Republican candidates for state and national offices, state party leadership, state-level lawmakers and Fox News pundits.
In their response, the American Jewish Committee pointed out the "disturbing trend", saying that "[Davidson] is the latest elected official to exploit the Holocaust by making immoral and offensive comparisons between vaccine mandates and this dark period of history."
In August, Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, compared COVID restrictions to the treatment of prisoners in Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust, tweeting an image of a raised fist with a tattooed number. He later deleted the tweet.
This terminology was also evoked by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who called canvassers doing vaccine outreach "medical brown shirts" and compared vaccination logos on the name badges of vaccinated supermarket employees to yellow stars Jews were forced to wear in Nazi-occupied Europe.
Rabbi Jack Moline, president of the Interfaith Alliance, asked "What is the fascination with making Nazi comparisons? If Rep. Davidson is trying to show solidarity with Jews, it isn't working. Nazis murdered my family. Vaccines are saving their lives."