Rep. Tlaib explains herself on the Holocaust and Israel

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., on Monday night defended herself against “racist idiots” who she said were purposely twisting her remarks about the Holocaust and the founding of Israel.

In an interview with Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast Friday, Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She said the role Palestinians played in helping provide a “safe haven” for Jews following the Holocaust gives her “a kind of a calming feeling.” Conservative critics, including President Trump, seized on Tlaib’s remarks, interpreting them to imply that she approved of the Holocaust.

On “Late Night With Seth Meyers” Monday, Tlaib tried to explain what she meant.

“There is something, like, in many ways beautiful about that my ancestors, many had died, or had to give up their livelihood, their human dignity, to provide a safe haven for Jews in our world,” she said. “That is something I wanted to recognize and kind of honor in some sort of way.”

Jews fleeing persecution in Europe began settling in Palestine in the late 19th century. A much larger influx in the 20th century led to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, displacing many Palestinians. Tlaib was making the point that out of what Palestinians call the Nakba or “catastrophe,” something good resulted, a homeland for Jewish refugees from the Holocaust.

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Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)

In this Nov. 6, 2008 file photo, Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat, is photographed outside the Michigan Capitol in Lansing, Mich. The Michigan primary victory of Tlaib, who is expected to become the first Muslim woman and Palestinian-American to serve in the U.S. Congress, is rippling across the Middle East. In the West Bank village where Tlaib’s mother was born, residents are greeting the news with a mixture of pride and hope that she will take on a U.S. administration widely seen as hostile to the Palestinian cause.

(AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

In this Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018 photo, Fadwa Tlaib, an aunt of Rashida Tlaib points to a young Rashida in a 1987 picture with her mother Fatima and brother Nader, at the family house, in the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Foqa. The Michigan primary victory of Tlaib, who is expected to become the first Muslim woman and Palestinian-American to serve in the U.S. Congress, is rippling across the Middle East. In the West Bank village where Tlaib’s mother was born, residents are greeting the news with a mixture of pride and hope that she will take on a U.S. administration widely seen as hostile to the Palestinian cause. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019, to unveil the "Immediate Financial Relief for Federal Employees Act" bill which would give zero interest loans for up to $6,000 to employees impacted by the government shutdown and any future shutdowns. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
No number of opponent signs can wipe our smiles of hope.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., questions Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former lawyer, as he testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., left, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., right, laugh as they wait for other freshman Congressmen to deliver a letter calling to an end to the government shutdown to deliver to the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Just voted with my son Adam. #MakingHistoryTogether
So Yousif came with me to one of our senior luncheons and we met Mother Williams who turned 104 years old (MashAllah). Yousif turns to me and says, "I thought you died at 100." Everyone laughed. I love being with the people I will fight and serve in Congress.
Eid Mubarak from my family to yours. @adamtlaib @fayez492
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Her remarks elided the fact that Palestinians at the time opposed Jewish immigration, often by violence, and their spiritual leader, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was an ally of Hitler.

“I also think it’s important because I want Palestinian people to also find some sort of light in this kind of, what’s happening,” Tlaib continued. “I want all of us to feel safe. All of us deserve human dignity, no matter our backgrounds, no matter our ethnicity, no matter even our political opinions. We need and deserve that kind of equality and justice.”

The freshman Democrat said she got a text message from a friend who suggested next time she should “talk like a fourth grader because maybe the racist idiots would understand you better.”

Tlaib’s “Late Night” interview came hours after Trump joined the chorus of conservative critics attacking her.

“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?”

Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who has faced similar attacks over her criticism of Israel, jumped to Tlaib’s defense.

“You praised people at a neo-Nazi rally. We don’t have to imagine,” Omar tweeted. “This is another transparent attempt to sow division b/t minority communities and distract from your own criminal behavior by smearing a Muslim woman. No one should fall for it this time.”

Tlaib and Omar were the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

Other Democrats came to Tlaib’s defense too.

“If you read Rep. Tlaib’s comments, it is clear that President Trump and congressional Republicans are taking them out of context,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland. “They must stop, and they owe her an apology.”

“Obviously I don’t think that she hates Israel or hates Jews,” Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., said on Fox News. “She’s not a hateful person.”

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