New York, NY, October 15, 2009 … A prominent Christian religious leader has apologized to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for comparing proposed healthcare reform measures to "what the Nazis did" and for bestowing a Josef Mengele Award on the president's chief healthcare advisor.
In a letter to ADL, Dr. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said he deeply regretted his remarks. "I was using hyperbole for effect and never intended to actually equate anyone in the Obama administration with Dr. Mengele," he wrote.
"I apologize to everyone who found such references hurtful," Dr. Land continued. "Given the pain and suffering of so many Jewish and other victims of the Nazi regime, I will certainly seek to exercise far more care in my use of language in future discussions of the issues at stake in the healthcare debate."
His apology came in response to concerns, first raised by ADL, that his words were "inappropriate, insensitive and unjustified."
In a phone conversation with Dr. Land, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor, explained why such comparisons are offensive and diminish the history and memory of the six million Jews and five million others who died at the hands of the Nazis.
"We welcome and accept Dr. Land's apology and appreciate his efforts to make clear that he now understands why his words were so hurtful," said Mr. Foxman. "We hope that this episode will serve as a teachable moment that will help to improve understanding about Jewish history, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, and that the use of Nazi analogies will cease."
Dr. Land also voiced strong support for the Jewish people and the State of Israel, expressed "grave concerns" about Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, and thanked the League for its efforts to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry in all forms. "Please continue to count on me as a loyal ally in that struggle," he wrote.