US Congresswoman and lawyer Rashida Tlaib has stood by her comments on Israel and the Holocaust after drawing intense criticism, accusing her detractors of purposefully “policing my words, twisting [and] turning them to ignite vile attacks”.
During an interview with Yahoo’s Skullduggery podcast that was released on Friday, Tlaib was asked about her support for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“There’s kind of a calming feeling, I always tell folks, when I think of the Holocaust, and the tragedy of the Holocaust,” she answered.
“….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. 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?”
During an interview with @skullduggerypod, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib weighed in on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said her Palestinian ancestors provided a “safe haven” for Jews following the Holocaust https://t.co/IBYHoCi7Rt pic.twitter.com/uvoQ4R6R6j
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) May 13, 2019
The congresswoman also stressed she wanted a place for both Jews and Palestinians.
“I’m coming from a place of love, for equality and justice, I truly am,” she explained.
“I am humbled by the fact that it was my ancestors that had to suffer for that to happen, but I will not turn my back and allow others to hijack it and say that it’s some extremist approach because they’re coming from a place of… whatever it is… of division, inequality,” Tlaib added.
Reactions did not wait, and Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, accused Tlaib of anti-Semitism and of trying to rewrite history with her comments, while President Donald Trump called Tlaib’s remarks “horrible and highly insensitive”.
Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust. She obviously has tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Can you imagine what would happen if I ever said what she said, and says?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2019
Tlaib accused her critics of advancing a “racist and hateful agenda”.
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.
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) May 13, 2019
“The Congresswoman did not in any way praise the Holocaust, nor did she say the Holocaust itself brought a calming feeling to her,” her team said in a statement.
The statement added that the criticism was “dangerous, and increases hateful rhetoric from those who want to cause harm to oppressed people”.
“The Republican Party has reached a new low,” it added.
Statement on lies being spread regarding Congresswoman Tlaib’s appearance on Yahoo’s SkullDuggery Podcast. pic.twitter.com/fBASeibLwV
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) May 13, 2019
Chain of reactions
The chorus of outrage and reactions expanded in the US political scene.
House Republican Steve Scalise also labelled her comments anti-Semitic, saying: “More than six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust; there is nothing ‘calming’ about that fact.”
Democratic leaders rallied behind Tlaib with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer accusing Republicans of taking Tlaib’s 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.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) May 13, 2019
The majority of criticism came from the Republicans, but there were Jewish Democrats who also expressed disagreement towards her remarks.
Former US ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro said that the “idea that [Palestinians] welcomed Jews fleeing Europe “was “strange”.
I understand Rashida Tlaib giving voice to Palestinians’ sense of loss. It’s her people &heritage. But she’s wrong about replacing Israel with 1 state, or the lack of legitimate Jewish historical ties&claims, or the strange idea that Pals welcomed Jews fleeing Europe for a haven.
— Dan Shapiro (@DanielBShapiro) May 12, 2019
Tlaib, a Democrat of Palestinian heritage, has come under fire earlier for her comments and position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Alongside Ilhan Omar, Tlaib is one of the first two Muslim legislators in US history to sit in Congress. She has criticised Israel and the US approach to the issue before, and has called for one state for both.
Omar has also faced criticism from Republicans over her comments on Israel.