Dutch Reform Rabbi Says COVID-19 Policies Remind Him Of Nazi Germany

JTA: A prominent rabbi from the Netherlands compared his country’s COVID-19 security measures to the policies of Nazi Germany, prompting a harsh reprimand from Jewish groups.

Tamarah Benima, a 71-year-old Reform rabbi from Amsterdam, made the comparison Thursday in a speech in the northern Dutch city of Leeuwarden.

“Scientists around the world have apparently been led into totalitarian thinking for the past year and a half,” he said of the COVID-19 pandemic, which began in December 2019. “What does not fit your perspective must be silenced”.

Those involved in enforcing COVID-19 public health measures “have the best intentions,” Benima added. “But as a Jew, what happened in Nazi Germany is a warning to me. Everyone in power had the best of intentions. Also when they declared the Jews a danger to “public health”. Also when they declared war on the ‘virus’ of those times. So do not play with fire by leaving aside the people of our society as ‘a danger to public health’, as the Minister of Health, Hugo De Jonge usually does ”.

De Jonge warned that downplaying the dangers of the COVID-19 virus, as well as the forum of a right-wing party to criticize the government’s policies on COVID-19, have endangered public health.

Following the example of other European countries, the Netherlands issued an emergency regulation last month that requires customers of restaurants and other businesses to present proof of vaccination.

At least three Dutch Jewish groups have condemned Benima’s statements.

The Central Jewish Board of the Netherlands, the country’s largest Jewish umbrella group, said its comparison is “contrary to our values ​​and shows a complete lack of realism.” The Dutch Association for Progressive Judaism “strongly rejects irresponsible and offensive comparisons,” that group said in a statement.

In this photo taken Tuesday, July 27, 2021, people take part in a protest against the COVID-19 vaccination pass in Rome. Protesters in Italy and France have been wearing yellow Stars of David, like the ones the Nazis required Jews to use to identify themselves during the Holocaust. Some carry signs comparing vaccine passes to dictatorships. (Mauro Scrobogna / LaPresse via AP, file)

Comparisons between COVID-19 public health measures and Nazism have proliferated in recent months across Europe and beyond. The use of yellow stars in protests against COVID-19 measures in Europe specifically has led to harsh condemnations from Jewish groups.

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