Palestine was 'safe haven' for Jewish Holocaust refugees, says Rashida Tlaib, prompting 'anti-Semitism' accusations

Palestine was 'safe haven' for Jewish Holocaust refugees, says Rashida Tlaib, prompting 'anti-Semitism' accusations

US Republicans and Israelis have labelled Democratic lawmaker Rashida Tlaib 'anti-Semitic' for saying Palestinians provided Jewish refugees with a 'safe haven' after the Holocaust.
3 min read
13 May, 2019
Tlaib also affirmed her support for a one-state solution for Palestine and Israel [Getty]

Palestinian-American lawmaker Rashida Tlaib has come under fire for saying Palestinians created a "safe haven for Jews" after the Holocaust.

Tlaib, who is the first Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress, will spearhead a congressional delegation to the West Bank in August.

"There's always kind of a calming feeling when I think of the tragedy of the Holocaust, 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, has been wiped out … in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-Holocaust, post-tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time," Tlaib said in an interview on the Skullduggery podcast according to Haaretz.

"I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that in many ways."

Thousands of Jews sought refuge in Palestine following Hitler's rise to power in Germany and the beginning of the Holocaust.

Republicans and Israelis have slammed the Democratic congresswoman for the allegedly "anti-Semitic" comments, claiming that Tlaib had called the Holocaust "calming".

Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to counter "vile anti-Semitism" in the Democratic Party following the comments.

Cheney on Twitter claimed Tlaib had said "thinking of the Holocaust" gave her a "calming feeling".

Israeli member of parliament Michal Shir hit back at Tlaib's claims that Palestinians had provided a "safe haven" for Jewish refugees, saying "Arabs gave nothing to post-Holocaust Jews except wars and death".

Shir, a member of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party, also told Tlaib to "thank the IDF" for protecting Palestinian citizens of Israel from "Hamas, IS and Islamic Jihad", according to The Jerusalem Post.

Netanyahu's deputy social media adviser Hananya Naftali accused Tlaib of "lying" about history, citing the case of Palestinian Grand Mufti Amin al-Husseini who gave support to Hitler during the Second World War.

"There is no justification for the twisted and disgusting comments made by Rashida Tlaib just days after the annual Day of Holocaust Remembrance," said Republican Steve Scalise in a statement.

Republican Senator Rick Scott and former US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro were also among those to criticised Tlaib over the controversial statement.

One-state solution

Tlaib also called for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the interview.

"It has to be done in a way of values around equality, around the fact that you shouldn't oppress others. So that you can feel free and safe. Why can't we all be free and safe together?" she said, clarifying that such a state should not be organised based on religious affiliation.

When asked what had caused her to "give up" on a two-state solution, Tlaib responded Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party were the ones who had "given up".

If Netanyahu were to cease settlement construction and demolish the border wall dividing the West Bank from Israel, Tlaib said she could believe in the possibility of a two-state solution.

But a two-state solution was otherwise "impossible", the congresswoman said.

"It is almost absolutely impossible with how he has proceeded to divide, dissect and segregate communities," stated Tlaib.

Both Tlaib and fellow Muslim American congresswoman Ilhan Omar have repeatedly faced censure - described as Islamophobic by supporters - for pro-Palestinian comments.

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