Trump joins GOP criticism of Rep. Tlaib over remarks on Holocaust, Israel
President Donald Trump on Monday joined prominent House Republicans in condemning Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., for recent comments on the Holocaust and Israel that the freshman lawmaker says have been deliberately distorted to ignite attacks against her.
“Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust,” Trump said in a tweet. “She obviously has tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Can you imagine what would happen if I ever said what she said, and says?”
Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust. She obviously has tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Can you imagine what would happen if I ever said what she said, and says?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 13, 2019
The controversy was sparked by an interview published Saturday on Yahoo News’ “Skullduggery” podcast during which Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women in Congress, was asked about her support for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Tlaib began her response by noting that the United States commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day two weeks earlier. 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.”
On Sunday, two of the top House Republicans criticized Tlaib’s 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 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 accused the GOP lawmakers of deliberately distorting her words.
“Policing my words, twisting & turning them to ignite vile attacks on me will not work,” she said in a tweet. “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.
Cheney doubled down on her criticism in a tweet on Monday morning that included a truncated quote from Tlaib that made it appear that she said that thinking of the Holocaust gives her a “calming feeling.”
“And her ‘history’ of what happened after is a fantasy based on lies spread to delegitimize the state of Israel,” Cheney added in the tweet.