Too much and too little has been said about the breathtaking remarks by U.S. congresswoman Rashida Tlaib last month in a podcast interview.
Because the interview was conducted some days after Yom ha-Shoah, Tlaib gratuitously offered her views on the link, in her mind, between the suffering of Palestinians and that of the Jews. Her language was unprompted and spontaneous and thus, sadly, quite revealing.
When contemplating “the tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world”, Tlaib said, she is overcome with a sort of “calming feeling” because her ancestors were “trying to create a safe haven for Jews post the Holocaust.”
How, precisely, in Tlaib’s mind did her ancestors do 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, and some people’s passports…I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that [a safe haven] right, in many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, right, and it was forced on them.”
Tlaib cleverly equated and transferred the Jews’ agony onto the Palestinians – which, of course, was the real object of her rhapsodic riff about the Shoah and her ancestors.
In defending herself against the swift criticism that resulted, most of which was fair and justified, although some self-serving and inaccurate, Tlaib turned to 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.” (My emphasis)
Except that with Tlaib, truth loses. Miserably. Abjectly.
Tlaib’s version of history is not merely false, it is grotesquely so. In an article in Haaretz, Israeli and Palestinian historians both pointed out the lack of any factual underpinning to Tlaib’s statement.
What is more distressing however, is not that Tlaib spoke obvious mistruths in the elaboration of her views upon the Jewish state, but rather, that she believes her lies to be true.
How can she not?
The leaders of Palestinian society have planted and nurtured seeds of falsehood ever since they failed to kill the nascent Jewish state at birth. Alas, we are now witnessing the bitter harvest throughout the western world: revulsion of Israel and hatred of Jews.
For example, last year Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA), told the Palestinian National Council that “history tells us there is no basis for the Jewish homeland.” In the same speech, he also suggested that the Holocaust was not a result of anti-Semitism, but because of the Jews’ “social behaviour, [charging] interest, and financial matters.”
Apparently, he was merely reprising a theme he had delivered four months earlier. As reported in the New York Times, “Abbas told PA officials that European Jews opted for ‘murder and slaughter’ in the Holocaust over emigration to British-held Palestine. He also asserted that Israel was created to safeguard European interests as ‘a colonial project that has nothing to do with Judaism.’”
The record of Abbas’ statements about the Jews and Israel is a thick dossier of distortion and deceit in which no proposition about Israel or the Jews is too ugly to withhold from public pronouncement. But, in this, Abbas carries the singularly sinister and destructive torch borne in the 1930s and 1940s by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Husseini, by the founder of the PLO, Ahmad Shukeiri, and by Fatah and PLO Chairman, Yasser Arafat.
This torch provides no light. It has not and does not illuminate a path of co-existence for the Palestinian people with Israel. Rather, it scorches mutual trust with their Jewish neighbours and lays waste to the possibility of a sovereign Palestinian state.
Rep. Tlaib was right about one thing: The truth will always win.
It falls to us to ensure that it does.