Rashida Tlaib Is Trying To Whitewash the Anti-Semitism of Her 'Ancestors' in Palestine


In the short time she has been in Congress, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a freshman Democrat from Michigan, has well established her credentials as an anti-Semitic bigot of the first order. In a recent widely circulating podcast interview with Tlaib on the Holocaust, she has now added “revisionist historian” and outright liar to her resume.

Since the podcast interview aired, most of the criticism has focused on Tlaib’s outrageously offensive statement that she always gets a “calming feeling” when she thinks about the Holocaust. Critics across the board, other than the Democratic Party leadership, have rightly condemned Tlaib for the despicable assertion that in any civilized world there could be anything “calming” evoked by the genocidal massacre of over six million people, brutally tortured and killed only because of their religion and posited by the Germans and their allies as an inferior race that should be completely erased from the face of the earth.

Tlaib’s comments are doubly shocking because she made them during the time of year when Jews around the world set aside a time to mourn the loss of their loved ones, brutally slaughtered in the Holocaust.

Moreover, her most recent remarks come on the heels of a call by a prominent Jewish advocacy organization for the Democratic Party to expel Tlaib from its ranks, based on her documented association with and praise for a who’s who of terrorists and rabid anti-Semites.

It is Tlaib’s explanation for the “calming feeling” the Holocaust evokes, however, that is most despicable. Tlaib asserts in the recent podcast that what she “loves” when she recalls the Holocaust period is that her “ancestors” gave up so much in order to provide a “safe haven” in Palestine for Jews in the wake of the genocide. By her “ancestors,” Tlaib, who characterizes herself as a “Palestinian-American” refers to the Arab population of the land then known as Palestine.

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Any student of that era and region with even the most rudimentary knowledge of the facts knows that Tlaib’s claim is the exact polar opposite of the truth. She violently turns the real history on its head.

Throughout the World War II period and as news of the Holocaust and the Nazi death camps spread around the world, Tlaib’s “ancestors” were busy lobbying the British to cut off all access to Palestine for any Jew fleeing Europe or from anywhere else in the world. Their lobbying efforts turned to threats and attacks on the British to make clear just how serious they were that Jews should not be allowed to return to their ancient homeland.

As an adjunct to the lobbying efforts, back home, Tlaib’s ancestors engaged in a campaign of intimidating the Jews of Palestine through a series of brutal and barbaric pogroms, begun in systematic fashion at least as far back as 1920, killing hundreds of defenseless Jews in order to send them a message.

Indeed, in the words of Harvard University professor Ruth Wisse, by the World War II period, anti-Semitism had become the “cornerstone” of pan-Arab politics throughout the Middle East. Among its most prominent advocates and practitioners were the leaders of the Palestinian Arabs, Tlaib’s “ancestors.”

It is not just that Tlaib’s claims that her “ancestors” sacrificed to provide a safe haven for Jews in Palestine is a lie; the truth surrounding the position taken by the leaders of her “ancestors” demonstrates the absolute obscenity of her lie.

In 2017, six photos of Haj Amin al- Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Palestine — the leader of Tlaib’s “ancestors,” taken in 1943 at a camp in Nazi Germany with senior Nazi military and civilian leaders were offered at auction for the first time.

Other photos of the leader of Tlaib’s “ancestors” sharing good times with Adolph Hitler and Heinrich Himmler while the Holocaust raged on are readily available for viewing on the internet. The support by Tlaib’s “ancestors” for Hitler and his Final Solution for the Jews is by now well known and documented beyond any dispute. It is impossible to reconcile Tlaib’s claims with that support or with any other relevant facts of the day.

Indeed, quite to the contrary of Tlaib’s claims that her “ancestors” endeavored to make a “safe haven” for the Jews in Palestine, the constant lobbying efforts by Palestinian Arab leaders to the leaders in Nazi Germany to whom they had a direct pipeline — right up to Hitler himself — were all designed for one purpose, as reflected in a well known April 1942 letter from al-Husseini and his fellow Jew-hater, Rashid Gailani demanding that the Nazis act clearly on their promise to eliminate Palestine of all Jews.

Revisionist history on any subject, especially by an elected public official, ought to be troubling to everyone. Revisionist history concerning the Holocaust is both extremely troubling and dangerous. When Democratic Party leaders support an anti-Semitic Holocaust revisionist like Tlaib, it calls into question their commitment to what previously had been considered a bipartisan, if not universal commitment to the maxim “Never Again.”

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Indeed, it increases the real danger warned against by the philosopher George Santayana when he wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” That is a risk we can never afford to take — and certainly not in the name of political partisanship.

Tlaib’s most recent comments are unquestionably offensive to any decent person of any political, ethnic, racial or religious persuasion. She has exposed herself as a rabid anti-Semite of no lesser order than a David Duke; but she is far more dangerous than an outlying fringe bigot. She continues to be empowered by the Democratic Party leadership which, rather than showing moral courage by sanctioning her for her outrageous bigotry and endorsement of convicted terrorists, continues to give her increasing power within the Congress and her committees.

It is almost impossible to understand this failure of character and principle by the once great Democratic Party which for so many years stood so strongly against bigotry and whose leaders often led the fight against exactly what Tlaib represents. Whatever the reason, the Party sadly has chosen politics over principle and has proven itself willing to make a deal with the Devil in the process.

Tlaib already is taking a page out of the playbook of her fellow bigot, Rep. Ilhan Omar, in lashing out at those who dare to take offense at her bigoted comments, accusing these critics of misconstruing her crystal clear words and labeling the critics Islamophobes, a favorite stifling canard.

Tlaib has announced that she will not be silenced and Democratic Party leaders shockingly have expressed their full support for her. One wonders whether Tlaib’s version of history recalls that her contemporary “ancestors” danced in the streets when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and cheered against our American soldiers who lives were at risk during their efforts in Iraq to stop that madman. Or is that another inconvenient truth that she will revise as well?

Revisionist history is the hallmark of textbooks officially circulated in Palestinian Arab schools even today and that is a major problem. We are entitled to expect better from a member of the United States Congress.

Calls for Tlaib to be sanctioned are readily understandable and demands that Democratic Party leaders speak out clearly and strongly against her bigotry are well placed. But any efforts to silence Tlaib would be wrong. We do best in this country when bigots are drawn out into the open and can espouse their hate publicly for all to see. Her constituents, unfortunately, have chosen to elect Tlaib and the Democratic Party has chosen to fully support her, notwithstanding undeniable, consistent evidence of her bigotry.

The country at large surely will reject her ideas as the antithesis of our American values and ideals and hopefully she will one day soon be recognized as just another David Duke type, espousing hate and disdain for American values and support for something that must never become the American way.

David Schoen is a civil rights and criminal defense lawyer based in Montgomery, Alabama, and has served as trial counsel in the past for the Democratic Party.

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