A Safe Haven for Rashida Tlaib

Once again, a freshman Democratic congressperson has had her say about Israel and the Holocaust, resulting in widespread outrage at the gross distortions of history and an insensitivity borne of anti-Semitism.

Really, the words of Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) must be read to be believed. Speaking just after Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, she told an interviewer that the Palestinians had lost out “in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews … and I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways.”

She credits her ancestors’ selfless humanitarian actions on behalf of the Jews for providing them with a safe haven. This is the first we’ve heard of it.

Tlaib was immediately condemned — by Republicans, including President Donald Trump, though, as of this writing, not by Democrats — for her bizarrely erroneous version of history.

In response to the torrent of criticism, Tlaib insisted that Republicans were “policing my words, twisting & turning them to ignite vile attacks on me. …”

Yet, her words bear no other construction than that the Palestinians are somehow to be held in high esteem for their role in allowing the desperate refugees of Hitler’s Europe to come to Eretz Yisrael.

This, of course, was not the case. Just the opposite. It is a matter of historical record that the Palestinians (not yet known as such, but as Arabs living in Palestine) did everything in their power to prevent Jewish immigration. The British Mandatory government imposed inhumane restrictions on that immigration at the behest of Mrs. Tlaib’s ancestors. They sought in every possible way — by pressuring the British, by pogroms against the Jews already in the country — to keep the Jews out. It was their express objective, indeed a national goal, to deny the Jews a haven, safe or otherwise.

As that champion of Palestinian rights, Professor Edward Said, once expressed it so succinctly: “The whole of Palestinian nationalism was based on driving all Israelis [by which he meant Jews] out.”

There is not enough space here to cite more than a small fraction of the instances of Arab resistance to Jewish immigration to Israel — before, during and after the Holocaust. Any claim that they did otherwise is either a function of historical illiteracy, or hatred of Jews, or both.

Rep. Tlaib seems oblivious — deliberately or otherwise — to the complicity in the Holocaust of Palestinian Arabs. The idea that they were innocent bystanders to a strictly European persecution is a cover-up. Many of them were eagerly pro-Nazi.

Even beyond the infamous al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Mufti of Yerushalayim — who openly befriended Hitler, Eichmann and other high-level henchmen of the Third Reich — the Nazi SS financed Arab gangs who attacked Jewish hospitals, homes and businesses.

Of course, aside from the Nazi connection, the local Arabs were often bloodthirsty volunteers in pogroms in Eretz Yisrael. The deaths of Jews was payment enough for them. The 1929 Chevron massacre was but one of the atrocities, perhaps the most notorious.

And if anyone thinks that the anti-Jewish violence of the Arabs were the acts of a few extremists who didn’t represent the mainstream, we have the recent comment of the chairman of the Palestinian Authority in 2002 in the newspaper al-Quds, calling al-Hajj Amin “our hero.” Edward Said attested that the mufti “represented the Palestinian Arab national consensus” with the backing of local and foreign Arab parties.

“Unfortunately, this is far from the first display of heinous anti-Semitic comments coming from Democrat House members this year, and it’s clear this is now the norm for their caucus,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said in a statement.

“It’s long past time for Speaker Pelosi to take swift action and make it clear that these vile comments have no place in Congress.”

House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said Tlaib’s comments were “sickening” and called on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) “to finally take action against Representative Tlaib and other members of the Democratic caucus who are spreading vile anti-Semitism.”

Responding to Republican criticism, Steny Hoyer, Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, tweeted, “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.”

This cannot go on. The bipartisan consensus on support for Israel has eroded in the past few years, mostly over the failed peace talks and the ongoing violence in the region.

There is still a bipartisan consensus on Israel’s legitimacy and its right to security. And there is still a consensus that anti-Semitic speech has no place in the Congress of the United States.

But in order to preserve that consensus, there can be no safe haven in the Democratic party for the likes of Rashida Tlaib.