Jewish scholars and leaders were troubled after Republican presidential candidate former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee spoke against the Iran nuclear deal by referencing the Holocaust.
You can criticize the President Barack Obama's negotiations with Iran, the leaders agreed, but don’t compare him to Adolf Hitler when you do it.
During an interview with conservative news site Breitbart, Huckabee said on Saturday that the Iran deal, which ensures that the country reduces its nuclear infrastructure in exchange for relief from sanctions, was tantamount to Obama marching Israelis "to the door of the oven."
Deborah E. Lipstadt, a Holocaust scholar and a professor of religion at Emory University, was disappointed by the reference to the systematic mass killings that resulted in the deaths of 6 million Jewish people during World War II.
Huckabee's comments were "hyperbolic," she said, and "ultimately cheapen the memory of the Holocaust."
"While one may legitimately disagree with President Obama's policy, such comparisons are entirely out of place," Lipstadt wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. "The Final Solution, the Third Reich's name for the planned annihilation of European Jewry, should not be used as a political tool, by any side. Oppose the policy but don't use this tragedy as a vehicle for doing so."
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has called on Huckabee to apologize for what she calls "grossly irresponsible" comments, saying that "cavalier analogies" to the Holocaust are unacceptable.
The National Jewish Democratic Council, a lobbying organization, also issued a statement against the comments.
Far, far too often, this organization has found itself forced to denounce politicians for invoking the Holocaust in inappropriate and offensive ways. These comments by Gov. Mike Huckabee, however, may be the most inexcusable we've encountered in recent memory. To state that President Obama is leading Israelis 'to the door of the oven' is not only disgustingly offensive to the President and the White House, but shows utter, callous disregard for the millions of lives lost in the Shoah and to the pain still felt by their descendants today.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Huckabee argued for a diplomatic solution to Iran. But this week, he doubled down on his stance against the deal between Iran and six world powers.
On Twitter, he lashed out against both Obama and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for not taking the threat from Iran seriously.
Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, president of Clal, the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, told HuffPost it is important to note that some factions of the Iranian government are hostile to Israel. He pointed to the Al-Quds Day protests, which rallied thousands of anti-Israel hardliners to the streets of Tehran earlier this month with chants of "death to Israel."
Still, Hirschfield said Huckabee's comments went too far.
"[Huckabee's] quote, read carefully, compares the president personally to someone who would take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven," he told HuffPost. "That comparison of Obama to a Nazi is grotesque, however much people may disagree with the president."
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