Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan made some remarkable and bizarre claims in a Yahoo News podcast interview last week stating that Arabs living in Palestine after World War II – even they didn’t self-identify as “Palestinian” – were instrumental in the establishment of a Jewish state there. But her remarks were only the tip of the iceberg in a week that saw a significant spike in a seemingly inexorable march toward the legitimization of anti-Semitic/anti-Israel discourse.
Thus, ignoring both Biblical imperative and that Jews living in Palestine came to meet all international criteria for statehood – something Arab Palestinians still have not done – Tlaib said:
There’s kind of a calming feeling, I always tell folks, when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors, Palestinians, who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports –
I mean, just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post the Holocaust, post the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time. And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways, But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right, and it was forced on them.
Tlaib also made no mention of the shameful efforts of the wartime leader of her ancestors, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, to goad Hitler into advancing his plans to destroy all Palestinian Jews. Nor does she note that the Arab world, including her “ancestors,” invaded and sought to crush the Jewish state soon after the UN partition plan came into effect.
Of course, Tlaib was trying to make the point that Israel was arbitrarily established solely as a Holocaust guilt-offering by an embarrassed gentile world at the expense of her hapless ancestors. She thus dismissed the millennia-long connection Jews have had with Palestine and means to say that the Jewish state is an illegitimate intrusion on the right of others.
Tlaib’s disjointed syntax reveals, we think, that even she has trouble expressing her thesis with a straight face, as it were. Indeed, she surely cannot really believe in what she said. And we are concerned that officials like her seem destined to draw increasing support for their efforts to delegitimize Israel from growing numbers of a newly emerging Democratic Party that leans precipitously leftward.
But we are also concerned with the here and now, as Democratic House leaders Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer issued statements rallying behind her. After Republicans called her out for her gross misrepresentation of history – and of her obvious contrivance to suggest sympathy in the odd choice of the phrase “calming effect” in the context of the Holocaust – both leaders lamely opined that her critics were taking her words out of context, of course never pointing out how.
To be sure, we are confident that both Pelosi and Hoyer are nowhere in sync with Tlaib and her cohorts when it comes to Israel and the Jewish community. But this is a time when such obvious and incendiary misrepresentations as Tlaib’s call for rebuke from those in a position to make a difference.
Pelosi invited an imam with a history of virulent anti-Zionism – who claimed that Israel controls American foreign policy, who supports BDS, compared Israel to the Nazis, accused Israel of being a terror regime, called for a Palestinian intifada and supported the Muslim brotherhood – to give the invocation at a recent session of the House of Representatives.
Former CIA spy Valerie Plame Wilson is considering a run for the United State Senate despite reportedly tweeting links to anti-Semitic articles, including “American Jews Are Driving America’s Wars” and another called “The Dancing Israelis” that insinuated that the Mossad was involved in the 9/11 attacks.
The Associated Press has reported that an e-commerce site was forced to stop selling skirts, tote bags and other merchandise printed with photos of the Auschwitz concentration camp.
And of course, in recent months, news reports about attacks on Jews in Boro Park and Williamsburg seem the rule rather than the exception.
The dynamic is plain. Attacks on Jews and things Jewish are becoming less and less alarming by more and more people. It is time for those who seek our electoral support to step up and lose that support.