The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized Pope Francis I for asserting that European refugee centers set up for people fleeing various parts of the Middle East are like “concentration camps.”
The Pope, speaking to migrants at the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on the weekend, recounted speaking to a refugee on the Greek island of Lesbos, saying of him, “I don’t know if he was able to get out of that concentration camp, because the refugee camps –– many –– are concentration (camps), because they are so crowded with people” (Livia Borghese & Jay Croft, ‘Pope likens refugee centers to “concentration camps,”’ CNN, April 23, 2017).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We strongly criticize the Pope’s factually wrong, ill-considered and offensive choice of words in describing the plight of Middle Eastern refugees in European camps that are not harming them but actually providing them with food, clothing and shelter.
“It is deeply offensive that the Pope compared these camps, however crowded they might be, with concentration camps –– which, almost invariably, are intended to mean the Nazi camps, in which Jews and other peoples persecuted by the Nazis were starved, tortured, worked to death, murdered and generally and sadistically brutalized.
“Europe didn’t create these refugees. Instead, it is helping them. Of course these camps are over-crowded. When hundreds of thousands of people suddenly stream into Europe because of wars and massacres in another part of the world, what else is to be expected?
“This does not mean that these refugees are being treated like the inmates of Nazi concentration camps.
“The Pope should immediately and clearly withdraw his words and apologize for the offense he has given to those who suffered under the Nazis in concentration camps.”