Democrats rally around Tlaib after Holocaust comments

Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer say that Rep. Tlaib’s comments were taken out of context, and demanded Republicans apologize.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Top Democrats came to Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s defense Monday after President Trump and other Republicans slammed her statement that implied that Palestinians willingly helped the Jews after the Holocaust by giving up their land to create Israel.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded via Twitter that the president and House GOP apologize “for their gross misrepresentations” of Palestinian-American congresswoman’s comments on a Yahoo News podcast on Friday.

Senate Minority Leader Steny Hoyer joined Rep. Pelosi’s demand after remarking in his own tweet that “If you read Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s comments, it is clear that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are taking them out of context.”

However, American historians and Israeli officials have backed Republican criticism that Rep. Tlaib misrepresented Arab behavior in British Mandate Palestine during the Holocaust.

In the podcast, Rep. Tlaib, who represents a districts in Detroit, said that she “love[d] the fact” that “in many ways” it was her ancestors who provided “a safe haven for Jews post-the-Holocaust.” She added that “she was humbled by the fact that it was my ancestors that had to suffer for that to happen.” And she said she would not “allow others to hijack it and say it’s some extremist approach.”

American Jewish History professor Jonathan Sarna suggested a reading list for “those interested in the facts.” And Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon tweeted, “You should take some time to learn the history before trying to rewrite it.”

The Arab leader in Palestine during World War II, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, was a firm supporter of Hitler and recruited Arabs for the German army. Before, during and after the war, it was Arab pressure on England that led the British to close the gates of Palestine to Jewish refugees just as the Nazis began their conquest of Europe.

Rep. Tlaib defended her comments on Monday, accusing her critics of “twisting” her words and trying to “silence” her.

Saying that she had made it clear on the podcast that “the Holocaust was a horrific persecution of Jewish people,”  she charged, “it’s shameful that right-wing extremists and GOP leadership, including President Trump, have twisted and misconstrued my words to spread falsehoods rooted in hate.”

“Trump has doubled down on his party’s use of the Holocaust to score political points,” she continued in a statement. “This is yet another attempt by the administration and the GOP to try to distract from their horrible policies, lawless acts, and actual anti-Semitic rhetoric.”