Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement:
“Last week, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) directly communicated to the leadership of the Senate and House Republican caucuses our ‘profound concern and disappointment at the repeated, ongoing comparisons by Republican candidates for the Minnesota Senate and House to Nazis, and the misuse of the Holocaust, to measures being taken to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.’
“We did so after becoming aware of statements and/or posts made by Julie Buria, the Republican endorsed candidate for the Minnesota House in 6B, Paul Brandmire, the Republican endorsed candidate for Minnesota House 14B, as well as Elizabeth Joy, the Republican endorsed candidate in Minnesota Senate District 19, which all equated measures being taken to contain the spread of COVID-19 to the Holocaust.
“In response, Republican Senate and House caucus leadership assured the JCRC they agreed that such comparisons between COVID-19 and the Holocaust were wrong and they had communicated to their members and candidates they should not make such comparisons.
“On Monday, however, at the Mountain Iron and at the St. Cloud city council meetings, both Julie Buria and Paul Brandmire maintained they had done nothing wrong in comparing measures to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and the Holocaust, and drew additional parallels between steps being taken today by our state and local governments to those taken by the Nazis.
“In defending her comments, Ms. Buria stated multiple times that ‘Jews are not offended,’ while both candidates maintained that it was only their political opponents who were making this an issue in an effort to undermine them. As the nonpartisan public affairs voice for Minnesota’s Jewish community, we are not anyone’s political opponents, but we reject the suggestion that Jews do not find these Holocaust comparisons offensive, or that those who condemn these remarks do so only for partisan advantage. As Jews, we are offended by these reprehensible and historically inaccurate comparisons.
“We remain grateful to the members of the Republican Senate and House caucuses who have offered their solidarity and support. Several of these members have traveled with the JCRC to Israel and visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, which no doubt solidified their understanding of how harmful and inappropriate these comparisons are. Senator Karin Housley issued a powerful statement in which she publicly expressed her concern that such comparisons ‘demean and diminish the horror that the victims of the Holocaust experienced and the sacrifice of Minnesotans who fought and died to defeat Nazism. Representative Ron Kresha also shared that to ‘[the] many, many Jewish people who I call friends, it is reprehensible to see a candidate making an analogy to the atrocities experienced by [the] Jewish people.’
“The JCRC remains committed to calling out the misuse of the Holocaust from wherever it may appear on the political spectrum. Today, we call on Minnesota’s Republican leadership to publicly stand with our Jewish community against this poisonous and hurtful rhetoric.”
As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights antisemitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.