House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Republicans owe Rep. Rashida Tlaib an apology for “gross misrepresentations” of her remarks about the Holocaust, as both sides battled to show outrage over anti-Semitism in politics.
Mrs. Pelosi and her top lieutenant, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, said Republicans were twisting Ms. Tlaib’s words, claiming her ancestors provided “safe haven” for European Jews in Palestine, in a bid to stir outrage against the congresswoman, one of two freshman Muslim women in the House.
“If you read Rep. [Rashida Tlaib‘s] comments, it is clear that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are taking them out of context. They must stop and they owe her an apology,” Mr. Hoyer said.
But Republicans said Ms. Tlaib went out of bounds in an interview with the “Skullduggery” podcast last week when she said she was comforted by the way Palestinians handled the Holocaust and how it augured well for a “one state” solution.
“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,” the freshman Democrat said.
“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?” she continued.
Republicans were outraged that Ms. Tlaib had used the phrase a “calming feeling” in relation to any aspect of the Holocaust. Others denounced both the one-state concept as the end of Israel as a Jewish state, and the comments themselves as false historical revisionism.
President Trump called the comments “horrible and highly insensitive,” saying they showed “tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people.”
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise and Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney also said the remarks were an outrage, and compared them to comments earlier this year by Rep. Ilhan Omar, the other Muslim woman in the House.
“There is no justification for the twisted and disgusting comments made by Rashida Tlaib just days after the annual Day of Holocaust Remembrance. More than six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust; there is nothing ‘calming’ about that fact,” Mr. Scalise said in a statement.
Ms. Cheney said that the Democratic defense of Ms. Tlaib as proof “that the House Democratic leadership continues to enable the anti-Semitism in their ranks.”
Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., called Ms. Tlaib’s comments an “ignorant” bungling of the 1948 creation of Israel. After their leaders allied themselves with Adolf Hitler during the war, the Palestinian Arabs rejected any Jewish state in the region afterward and went to war against Israel on the day it declared independence.
“You should take some time to learn the history before trying to rewrite it,” Mr. Danon tweeted.
Democrats rejected the GOP’s outrage — and particularly Mr. Trump’s criticism — calling him a poor messenger on the subject.
Ms. Omar in particular rose to Ms. Tlaib’s defense, harking back to Mr. Trump’s comments after the race-fueled clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
“You praised people at a neo-Nazi rally,” Ms. Omar tweeted at the president, adding, “This is another transparent attempt to sow division [between] minority communities and distract from your own criminal behavior by smearing a Muslim woman.”
Muslim groups took particular offense.
“Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are Muslim women who are now members of Congress — and that is why they have been targeted and now smeared and demonized,” Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, said in a statement.
Ms. Tlaib, for her part, pushed back against her critics and said the GOP was using the Holocaust to incite hatred and division and accused them of racism.
“Again, this behavior by a bankrupt Republican leadership is dangerous and only increases hateful rhetoric from those who want to cause harm to oppressed people,” her office said in a statement. “The Republican Party has reached a new low.”
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