As Millions Worldwide Observe Holocaust Memorial Day, Wiesenthal Center Condemns West Virginia Candidate’s Hitler Analogy

April 19, 2012

Center officials say remark, “demonstrates a callousness to the millions of Jews murdered by Hitler’s Third Reich”

Today, as Jews observe Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is condemning a West Virginia senatorial candidate’s equating anti-smoking laws with the yellow star that the Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust. Responding to the statement by Republican John Raese (pictured), who said that, “I have to put a huge sticker on my buildings to say this is a smoke free environment…. Remember Hitler used to put a Star of David on everybody’s lapel….same thing.”

“This inappropriate comparison betrays an ignorance of what really happened in Nazi Germany, and demonstrates a callousness to the millions of Jews murdered by Hitler’s Third Reich,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Wiesenthal Center, and Mark Weitzman, the Center’s Director of Government Affairs. “It compares signs that are meant to protect people’s health with the yellow stars designed to dehumanize and degrade millions of Jews by a racist, genocidal regime,” they added.

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center has spoken out against the manipulation and distortion of the Holocaust for political purposes in the past by the left and right, and we hope that Mr. Raese’s colleagues and fellow citizens in West Virginia will register their disgust at this inappropriate analogy,” Cooper and Weitzman concluded.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe, and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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