(New York Jewish Week via JTA) — Vickie Paladino, a first-term New York City Council member, has apologized for comparing COVID vaccine requirements to Nazi Germany.
The Queens Republican faced a backlash after NY1 published an interview with her Monday.
“I don’t need to show you my papers,” Paladino told the news channel. “This is not Nazi Germany.”
Paladino gave the interview days after being barred from the council chambers because she refused to disclose whether she is vaccinated. All city employees are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a mandate Paladino opposes.
“You can get vaccinated all you want, I can get vaccinated all I want,” she told NY1. “It’s just nobody’s business whether I am or not. So, it’s called medical freedom.”
Following criticism, Paladino apologized for the Nazi comparison in a statement posted to Twitter Tuesday, calling it “ill-considered and inappropriate.”
“While my intent was to illustrate that requiring residents to show medical papers to earn a living or to do everyday activities is an authoritarian practice that does not align with this country’s principles, it is never okay to compare anything to the evil of Nazi Germany,” the statement said. “I apologize to those who were genuinely offended by my comment and will be meeting with local Jewish leaders and my friends in the Jewish community in the coming days to discuss this matter.”
Paladino, one of five Republicans in the 51-seat City Council, is the latest public official to compare public health measures to Nazism. Jewish watchdog groups and Holocaust scholars have roundly rejected such comparisons as a trivialization of the Holocaust.
Some of Paladino’s fellow politicians also objected to the comment, including Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Bronx state assemblyman who was the target of an antisemitic anti-vaccine protest last year.
“Vickie Paladino is right (sort of),” he wrote on Twitter. “This isn’t Nazi Germany. During the Holocaust, six million Jews and many others were forcibly removed from their homes, sent to labor camps, and murdered. To compare this horror to vaccine reqs that save lives sounds anti-Semitic to me.”