US Congresswoman and lawyer Rashida Tlaib has come under a barrage of attacks from her critics, including the Israeli ambassador to the UN and Republican politicians, who have accused her of being an anti-Semite. She responded to a question about the one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by saying that it warmed her heart to know Palestinians helped Jews fleeing the Holocaust.
Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin and a representative for Michigan, began her remark by noting the recent observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day before highlighting key facts about the conflict and the creation of the state of Israel. “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…” Tlaib said.
“I mean, just all of it,” she continued, “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. And so when I think about a one-state, I think about the fact that, why couldn’t we do it in a better way?”
When asked whether advocating for a one-state solution could be seen as reckless, Tlaib replied, “No, I’m coming from a place of love, for equality and justice, I truly am.”
Her remarks were seized on by her critics. It seems that her use of the word “calming” sparked the outrage. Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, accused Tlaib of anti-Semitism and of trying to rewrite history with her comments, while President Donald Trump called her remarks “horrible and highly insensitive”.
“@RashidaTlaib, your words are both grossly #antiSemitic and ignorant. You should take some time to learn the history before trying to rewrite it,” Danon said on Twitter.
— Ambassador Danny Danon | דני דנון (@dannydanon) May 12, 2019
Tlaib hit back, saying: “Policing my words, twisting & turning them to ignite vile attacks on me will not work. All of you who are trying to silence me will fail miserably. I will never allow you to take my words out of context to push your racist and hateful agenda. The truth will always win.”
Democratic leaders rallied behind Tlaib, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer accusing Republicans of taking her words out of context. “Republicans’ desperate attempts to smear @RepRashida & misrepresent her comments are outrageous. President @realDonaldTrump & House GOP should apologize to Rep. Tlaib & the American people for their gross misrepresentations,” said Pelosi on her official Twitter account.
Republicans’ desperate attempts to smear @RepRashida & misrepresent her comments are outrageous. President @realDonaldTrump & House GOP should apologize to Rep. Tlaib & the American people for their gross misrepresentations.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) May 13, 2019
Beyond Washington, supporters of Tlaib also came to her aid. Pointing to the meeting in the Oval Office between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Trump yesterday, American author and commentator Reza Aslan pushed back saying: “The Republican president praised a tyrannical fascist and avowed anti-Semite in the White House and the GOP is condemning @RashidaTlaib for saying it warms her heart to know Palestinians helped Jews fleeing the Holocaust.”