Progressives rallied Monday to Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s defense, saying she’s not anti-Semitic and accusing Republicans of twisting her recent comments about the Holocaust for political purposes.
“At this point, the playbook is clear: target any American Muslim who dares enter public life, twist and distort their words, call them anti-Semitic or supportive of terrorism, and then use this manufactured outrage to run on hate in 2020,” Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, said in a statement.
On Capitol Hill, everyone from fellow Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar to Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said they didn’t see an issue with what Ms. Tlaib said in an interview Friday with the “Skullduggery podcast,” when she said she got a “calming feeling” when thinking Palestinians’ treatment of Jews after the Holocaust.
“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.
President Trump called the comments “horrible and highly insensitive,” saying they showed “tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people.”
That only incensed Democrats and liberal allies, who said the president’s rhetoric far surpasses others for hate.
“Republicans’ desperate attempts to smear [Rashida Tlaib] & misrepresent her comments are outrageous. President [Donald Trump] & House GOP should apologize to Rep. Tlaib & the American people for their gross misrepresentations,” Mrs. Pelsoi tweeted.
Progressives argue that the backlash against Ms. Tlaib is part of an ongoing GOP campaign to silence her and Ms. Omar, who has twice already this year sparked House floor debates over anti-Semitism with her own controversial comments.
They are the only two Muslim women in Congress.
“American Muslims in public life are relentlessly attacked as anti-Semitic, anti-LGBTQ and anti-woman; they are accused of supporting extremist violence, of being part of an imaginary global Muslim conspiracy, and of being disloyal to the United States,” Mr. Khera wrote. “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.”
Aaron Keyak, co-founder of BlueLight Strategies and a former head of National Jewish Democratic Council, said Ms. Tlaib’s comments were “totally wrong” but Mr. Trump was using “dangerous” rhetoric to respond.
But one liberal Jewish organization, If Not Now, stood by Ms. Tlaib and said there was nothing problematic about her “nuanced” argument that “the creation of a safe haven for Jews in Israel also led to Palestinian displacement and loss of rights.”
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