President Trump recently spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas. The speech was vintage Trump: Lies, distortions, middle-school insults. Frankly, it's no longer news worthy or even interesting. But what's different here is the audience. They were Jews. And for me, as a Jewish attorney who represents asylum seekers, their reaction to the President's comments were horrifying:

The President says our nation's asylum program is "a scam" and claims that asylum seekers are "some of the roughest people you've ever seen--people that look like they should be fighting for the UFC." The crowd laughs.

"They read a little page given by lawyers that are all over the place," the President continued. "You know lawyers, they tell them what to say." Imitating one of these allegedly-coached asylum seekers, the President deadpans, "I am very fearful for my life [and] very worried that I will be accosted if I am sent back home!" More laughter.

"No, no, he'll do the accosting," retorts the President. Laughter, applause.

Mr. Trump went on to mock those who support our asylum system: "Oh, give him asylum," the President whined in the persona of one of these bleeding hearts, "He's afraid, he's afraid!" "We don't love the fact that he's got tattoos on his face--that's not a good sign [and] we don't love the fact that he's carrying the flag of Honduras or Guatemala or El Salvador, only to say he's petrified to be in his country." More laughter and applause.

"To confront this border crisis," Mr. Trump concluded, "I declared a national emergency." Loud cheering.

Jews yucking it up, as the President denigrates and slanders people who are fleeing for their lives. To me, this is the ultimate in Holocaust denial.

Of course, these deniers are nothing like the anti-Semitic buffoons who claim the Holocaust was a hoax. The denialism of this group of Jews is much more profound and insidious than that of "traditional" deniers. That's because this group knows better. And because they are Jewish.

They know that the Holocaust happened; that the Nazis and their allies murdered six million Jews and five million other "undesirables." They know too that the international community largely turned its back on refugees fleeing Nazism. The Jews in Las Vegas likely celebrate Oskar Schindler and other "righteous gentiles" who rescued Jews during the War. They lament the tale of the St. Louis--a ship carrying hundreds of Jewish refugees that was denied entry into the U.S. and forced to return to Europe, where many of the passengers perished in death camps.

Indeed, the story of the St. Louis is just one episode in our country's shameful response to Nazism. We enforced and over-enforced visa quotas to prevent Jews from finding safety in the United States. This response was fueled by lies and half-truths: The Jews fleeing Germany were enemy aliens, they were spies and Communists, Jews and other southern and eastern Europeans were inferior to Northerners, the Jewish refugees brought disease, they would take American jobs.

And of course, blatant anti-Semitism also helped shape American attitudes towards Jewish refugees. Witness the words of Charles Lindbergh at an "America First" rally in the autumn of 1941: "Leaders of the Jewish race are not American in interests and viewpoints," he declared. There were three groups pressing the U.S. towards war, Lindbergh continued, "the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt Administration." In other words, the Jews were a threat to the United States. Certainly, we should not be admitting more of them into our country.

Luckily, not all Jews were kept out. My wife's grandfather was released from a concentration camp after he secured a U.S. visa. If not for that visa, his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren (including my wife and children) would never have been born. Three generations of Jews exist today because some unknown consular official issued a visa, and saved a life.

On a grander scale, the magnitude of the Holocaust, and the world's indifferent response, led to the creation of international laws protecting refugees. Our own country's asylum system derives directly from our commitment to "never again" sit idly by as innocent people are slaughtered on account of their religion, race, political opinion or ethnic group. In that sense, the sacrifice of the Six Million was not in vain. Their deaths helped galvanize the world to try--however imperfectly--to prevent future Holocausts.

Despite this history, the Jewish audience in Las Vegas laughed and cheered to affirm President Trump's false statements about asylum seekers. Perhaps by pretending that today's refugees are a threat to our country, or that they are mere economic migrants, the Las Vegas Jews hope to avoid the burden of history and the burden of Passover--to welcome the stranger and to comfort the widow and the orphan. These Jews should know better. When they mock desperate men, women, and children who have come to our country seeking protection, they mirror those who mocked us in our hour of need. In so doing, they dishonor the memory of our martyrs and--in the most fundamental way--they deny the lessons and sacrifices of the Holocaust.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: