Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said in a recent interview that she “loves the fact” that her “Palestinian ancestors” were part of an attempt “to create a safe haven for Jews” in the aftermath of the Holocaust.
The freshman congresswoman made the comments in an interview Saturday on the Skullduggery podcast titled “From Rashida With Love.” She was speaking about her views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and alluding to the recent observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“There’s always kind of a calming feeling when I think of the tragedy of the Holocaust, 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, has been wiped out … in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-Holocaust, post-tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time,” Tlaib said. “And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that in many ways.”
Tlaib also condemned Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for not seeing her grandmother, who lives in the West Bank, as an equal.
“We can smell it from far away that, no, you don’t want to look at my grandmother in the eye, Netanyahu, and say, ‘You are equal to me. You are as human as I am to you,’” she said.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, condemned Tlaib’s remarks. “@RashidaTlaib, your words are both grossly#antiSemitic and ignorant,” he tweeted. “You should take some time to learn the history before trying to rewrite it.”
At least two of Tlaib’s Republican colleagues took her remarks out of context, saying that she said the Holocaust — and not the refuge that Jews found in Palestine — gave her a “calming feeling.”
“Rashida Tlaib says thinking of the Holocaust provides her a ‘calming feeling,’” Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the third-ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, said on Twitter.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) said on the same platform: “@RashidaTlaib says the Holocaust gives her ‘a calming feeling.’”
In a statement, Tlaib slammed Cheney “for using the tragedy of the Holocaust in a transparent attempt to score political points.” The statement said Tlaib “did not in any way praise the Holocaust, nor did she say the Holocaust itself brought a calming feeling to her.”
President Donald Trump also took aim at Tlaib on Twitter.
“Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust,” Trump tweeted. “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?”
On May 12, Tlaib tweeted about her critics, “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.”
Last week, Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American to be elected to Congress, announced the dates for her congressional visit to the West Bank, which she organized to compete with Israel trips organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Marcy Oster writes for the JTA international news agency and wire service.