Aug 5, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Holocaust comparisons by anti-vax movement denounced

A woman wearing a yellow Star of David attends an anti-vaxxer protest near the Oregon State Capitol in Salem, Oregon.
An anti-vaccine protester wears a Star of David at a Oregon State Capitol demonstration. Photo: John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Jewish groups are condemning the use of Holocaust comparisons by people opposing coronavirus vaccination and mask-wearing.

The big picture: Cities across the country are seeing protests against vaccination and masking requirements amid a surge in COVID-19 cases thanks to the Delta variant and pressures to reopen schools and businesses.

Driving the news: Oklahoma GOP chairman John Bennett on Friday, in a Facebook post, compared companies requiring employees to get vaccines to Nazi Germany forcing Jews to wear the yellow Star of David on their clothes.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) compared officials carrying out President Joe Biden's vaccination push to Nazi-era "brown shirts," weeks after apologizing for her comments comparing Capitol Hill mask-wearing rules to the Holocaust.

Similar comparisons have been made in Europe. In March, a demonstration in the French city of Avignon saw some participants wearing yellow stars marked with the words, “Not Vaccinated."

What they're saying: “It shouldn’t need to be said, but there’s simply no comparison between mask mandates or vaccine requirements in the U.S. and what happened during the Holocaust," Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement to Axios.

  • "These comparisons are odious and deeply offensive to Jews and those Americans who fought valiantly to defeat the Nazis in World War II. They only serve to trivialize the true horrors of the Nazi regime." 
  • "Given that Minnesota rabbis recently spoke out in favor of a mask mandate, comparing that mandate to the Holocaust feels especially disgusting," the Minnesota-based Jewish Community Action recently tweeted.

Don't forget: Anti-Semitic episodes in the U.S. more than doubled in May 2021 compared to a year ago, according to the ADL's Center on Extremism.

Go deeper: Some red states are turning to civil rights law to defend the unvaccinated

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