(CNSNews.com) - Holding signs equating abortion with the Holocaust, pro-life demonstrators Tuesday confronted Democratic vice presidential contender Senator Joe Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, at a campaign stop in San Diego.
About 25 members of "Survivors of the American Holocaust," a pro-life youth group that performs missionary work, held up signs that read "Abortion - the American Holocaust" as Lieberman made a campaign stop at Children's Hospital.
Parked nearby was a 20-foot "truth trailer" belonging to Operation Rescue, which depicted on its side panels blown-up pictures of aborted babies.
The Connecticut senator ignored the demonstrators and waved to a group of residents from a convalescent home who came out to cheer him, said Cheryl Sullenger, director of the California Life Coalition, a protest sponsor.
Equating the "abortion industry" in America today with the Nazi death camps responsible for killing 6 million Jews in World War II was intended to stir Lieberman's conscience and to draw attention to his "hypocrisy" in claiming to be an Orthodox Jew while supporting abortion, Sullenger said.
"We're trying to connect the dots for him, from the Jewish Holocaust to the American holocaust. We're not trying to offend him ... They say 'never again,' yet it is happening again and Lieberman is among those supporting it," she said.
Lieberman has made clear his "radically pro-abortion stance" by voting against bans on the third-trimester "partial birth abortion" procedure, Sullenger said.
Troy Newman, director of Operation Rescue and a participant in the protest, said the pro-life group targeted Lieberman because he made a campaign stop at a children's hospital to speak on children's issues.
"We think it's very hypocritical to say you're pro-child - pro-child health care - that you have compassion for the next generation, when you endorse killing one-third of them," Newman said. One third of pregnancies in the United States end in abortion, pro-life groups report.
Newman also defended the protesters' right to invoke the memory of the Holocaust to make their point on abortion.
"Lieberman ignores the history of his own people by allowing a very similar occurrence to happen in America," he said. "Orthodox Jews believe in the inherent and intrinsic values given by God to the pre-born child."
A spokesman for Toward Tradition, a conservative public policy group of Jews and Christians based in Washington state, said some Jews would be offended by the protesters' comparison between abortion in America and the Holocaust.
"It doesn't personally offend me, although I would say from a prudential point of view it's a little overly abrasive if your goal is to get the pro-life message across and accepted by people who might be on the fence," said TT spokesman Yarden Weidenfeld.
While Orthodox Jews strongly condemn abortion, Judaism does not equate abortion around the United States with the Holocaust or genocide, he said.
"However, I do think there are a lot of religious Jews who are bothered and disturbed by the fact that a person [such as Lieberman] whose public persona is as an orthodox Jew and yet is so staunchly on the pro-abortion side of the political agenda.
"Probably the best way to articulate that kind of message would be concern with the stances Lieberman is taking and not to use such strident language from a prudential point of view," Weidenfeld said.