Rashida Tlaib's Holocaust comments: Anti-Semistim isn't a game | News Coverage from USA

Rashida Tlaib’s Holocaust comments: Anti-Semistim isn’t a game

opinion

Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., is defending herself against charges of anti-Semitism this week after she made controversial comments about the Holocaust and the human rights situation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Tlaib is wrong, but not anti-Semitic

By Jonathan Greenblatt

It has been less than a month since the attack on a synagogue in Poway, California, but already anti-Semitism is back in the headlines. This time, it is related to the whirlwind generated by Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s comments on a podcast and the reaction that followed. There are multiple insights from this unfortunate incident.

Tlaib said that Jews were given “safe haven” in British Mandate Palestine after the Holocaust. For the record, this is not true. Arabs who lived in British Mandate Palestine did not welcome Jews who fled to their historic homeland before, during and after the Holocaust. In fact, the local Arab leadership worked to bar the entry of Jews to Mandate-era Palestine. After the historic United Nations decision in 1947 to split the land into Jewish and Arab states, Palestinian Arabs opposed that plan. 

When any public figure makes comments about deeply sensitive issues that are inaccurate or misinterpreted, it is reasonable to expect them to clarify or correct the record. Rep.l Tlaib should do so.

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ADL strongly disagrees with the congresswoman’s comments. However, they were not anti-Semitic. And it is disturbing to see how some elected leaders have taken those comments out of context and demonized her for political gain. As a result, she has been slandered online and vilified on talk shows in a highly partisan and prejudicial manner, all the while ignoring the more substantive problems with her words.

It is a sign of these ugly times that we are not surprised when some attack first and ask questions later. More than that, using anti-Semitism as a partisan weapon does not help the fight against this ancient scourge. Calling out anti-Semitism indiscriminately or for political gain numbs us all when there is actual anti-Semitism that needs to be called out.

In an environment of heightened fear, we need calmer heads to prevail. We cannot abide by the normalization or politicization of anti-Semitism. The dangers are real and the need for dialogue is more important than ever.

Jonathan Greenblatt is the CEO of ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) and its sixth national director. Follow him on Twitter @JGreenblattADL.

What our readers are saying

Reps. Rashida Tlaib, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar are the worst thing happening for the Democratic Party right now. Most people who don’t subscribe to ultraleft politics can see that they are dim bulbs obsessed with their own victimization and find them to be the fools that they are.

— Robert Joseph

President Donald Trump called Tlaib’s comments “horrible and highly insensitive.” Is it just me or are those words coming out of his mouth the most ironic thing you’ve ever heard?

— David Hoeltje

Don’t whitewash what Tlaib is doing. It’s called historical revision. Her version of history is false propaganda.

— Steven Arnold

Funny how Trump said there were “good people” on both sides at Charlottesville, Virginia, eh? Trump doesn’t care about the Holocaust.

— Paul Torcello

What others are saying

Lahav Harkov,  New York Post: “Everyone’s heard of Holocaust denial, but there’s a related phenomenon, Holocaust distortion, that ­involves taking undue credit for rescuing Jews, claims often made by nations that played a role in the genocide of the Jewish people. A version of Holocaust distortion has now arrived in Congress. … The intent is clear: Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., used the horrors of the Holocaust to delegitimize Israel.”

Rep. Rashida Tlaib,  Twitter: “Policing my words, twisting (and) 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.”

John King,  CNN’s “Inside Politics”: “Tlaib did call the Holocaust horrific and a tragedy, so the Republican focus on the word ‘calming’ does twist the congresswoman’s words out of context. But she also fails a critical fact and context test. Yes, as she said, Palestinians lost land in the creation of Israel, but she ignored the fact that Palestinian leaders at the time allied themselves with Hitler and that total war was how the Arab world reacted to the declaration of Israeli independence.”

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