WASHINGTON (JTA) — U.S. Rep. Allen West likened Democrats to Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister.
"If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat Party because they have an incredible propaganda machine," West (R-Fla.) told a group of reporters who on Thursday asked him about polls showing Congress is unpopular, and that voters tend to blame the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Politico first reported the remarks.
The National Jewish Democratic Council called on West — an Iraq War vet who represents South Florida district has a large Jewish population — to apologize.
"As we have said repeatedly, invoking the Holocaust to make a political point is never acceptable and should be condemned by all for the sake of the memory of those who were lost," it said in a statement.
The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee joined in the condemnation.
"Such outrageous Holocaust analogies have no place in our political dialogue," Abraham Foxman, the ADL ‘s national director, said in a statement. "They are offensive, they trivialize real historical events, and they diminish the memory of the six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust."
The AJC director, David Harris, said West had "displayed a complete lack of understanding of the worst genocidal era in human history."
Also calling for an apology was Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), who is Jewish and who has championed Holocaust survivor issues in Congress.
"Comparing the way Democrats defend our record to the way the Nazi Minister of Propaganda attempted to defend and even justify the murder of 6 million Jews is utterly outrageous," Deutch said in a statement. "I hope that Rep. West will apologize to the many Holocaust survivors in South Florida and throughout the nation."
West stirred controversy during his freshman run last year. He called a campaign videographer working for the Democratic incumbent he unseated, Ron Klein, a "Gestapo" for filming West campaign events — a routine practice. West refused to apologize, even after it was revealed that the videographer — like Klein — was Jewish, and was the grandchild of Holocaust survivors.