House Republican leaders took aim at Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) on Sunday for a podcast interview in which she discussed her support for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In an interview on Yahoo News’s “Skullduggery” podcast published Saturday, Tlaib was asked about her position on the issue. The freshman lawmaker began her response by noting that the United States commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day two weeks ago. She then discussed her Palestinian ancestors and the founding of the state of Israel, saying she was “humbled by the fact that it was my ancestors that had to suffer” to create a safe haven for the Jewish people.
“There’s, you know, there’s a kind of a calming feeling, I always tell folks, when I think of the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors — Palestinians — who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence, in many ways, had been wiped out. . . . I mean, just all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time,” Tlaib said.
She added that the events of the past have informed her views on how to approach a solution to the conflict.
“I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that [safe haven], in many ways,” Tlaib said. “But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right? And it was forced on them. And so, when I think about one-state, I think about the fact that, why couldn’t we do it in a better way?”
Tlaib’s comments were picked up by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which published an article with the headline, “Tlaib Says She Is Humbled Her Ancestors Provided ‘Safe Haven’ for Jews After Holocaust.”
But two of the top House Republicans on Sunday criticized her use of the phrase “calming feeling,” falsely accusing her of using the phrase to describe her views about the Holocaust itself.
“There is no justification for the twisted and disgusting comments made by Rashida Tlaib just days after the annual Day of Holocaust Remembrance,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said in a statement. “More than six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust; there is nothing ‘calming’ about that fact.”
Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the No. 3 Republican in the House, issued a statement describing Tlaib’s remarks as “sickening.”
“I call on Speaker Pelosi and Leader Hoyer to finally take action against Representative Tlaib and other members of the Democratic caucus who are spreading vile anti-Semitism,” she said, referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). “All of us, regardless of party, must stand as Americans against the evil of anti-Semitism. If the Democratic leadership continues to stand by in silence, they are enabling the spread of evil.”
On Sunday night, Tlaib tweeted: “Policing my words, twisting & 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.”
Denzel McCampbell, Tlaib’s spokesman, condemned Cheney’s statement as “dangerous.” Cheney was the first GOP leader to criticize Tlaib on Sunday.
“Once again, Republican leaders and right-wing extremists are spreading outright lies to incite hate,” McCampbell said in a statement. “Congresswoman Liz Cheney should be ashamed of herself for using the tragedy of the Holocaust in a transparent attempt to score political points. Her behavior cheapens our public discourse and is an insult to the Jewish community and the millions of Americans who stand opposed to the hatred being spread by Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”
McCampbell also maintained that Tlaib “did not in any way praise the Holocaust, nor did she say the Holocaust itself brought a calming feeling to her.”
“In fact, she repeatedly called the Holocaust a tragedy and a horrific persecution of Jewish people,” he said.
The episode marks the second time in recent weeks Republicans have seized on out-of-context remarks by a freshman Democratic lawmaker.
Last month, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Tex.) criticized Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) for the way she phrased a reference to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Other Republicans followed suit, including President Trump, who tweeted a video that showed snippets of Omar’s comments interspersed with footage of the twin towers burning.