This week in an interview Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D–MI) recounted how the Holocaust has a calming effect on her because she knows her Palestinian ancestors helped to create a safe haven for Jews. Two things on this; it’s weird to use the term calm to describe one’s reaction to the extermination of Jews. Run a bubble bath, light some candles, and consider how virtuous your ancestors were helping genocide victims. And that’s the other thing; they didn’t help genocide victims, they killed them and still do.
But this is just one freshman representative, right? Conservatives are blowing it out of proportion. The socialist wing of the Democratic Party is just three congresswomen. That may have been true until House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D–MD) said this of criticism over Tlaib’s comments, “If you read Rep. Tlaib’s comments, it is clear that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are taking them out of context. They must stop. And they owe her an apology.”
Here is the comment from Tlaib in question:
“There’s always kind of a calming feeling, I 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, have been wiped out … And, 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.”
As mentioned above, the use of the word “calming” is at worst deeply troubling, at best weird, but it’s not the worst part. The worst part is this absolute fiction that Palestinians deserve some praise for helping to establish the Jewish state. The Palestinians worked with the Nazis, and once Israel was founded, they dedicated themselves to its destruction. To suggest they get some credit for helping Jews after the Holocaust is a bellicose joke.
The joke is that Tlaib is using the suffering of the Palestinians since the emergence of Israel to dull her own emotional reaction to the Holocaust. There is a wink and a “see what I did there?” at work here. “Look at all that the Palestinians have done for the Jews,” goes Tlaib’s ironic jest. Best friends Israel ever had!
Tlaib goes on to say that she no longer supports a two-state solution for Israel. This is at extreme odds with the position of her party. And it is intended to create a crisis in which Jews in Israel become outnumbered and must concede the existence of a democratic Jewish state. Apparently, Steny Hoyer thinks this is all just fine.
Why the Democrats are so confounded by historically illiterate socialist freshman representatives who regularly cross the line on anti-Semitism is a bit of a mystery. They liked the initial storyline about young women of color sticking it to the Orange Meanie, but now they have become residents of socialist crazy town. For Hoyer to suggest anybody need apologize for criticizing Tlaib’s bizarre and insensitive comments is laughable. Does Hoyer believe that the Palestinians have been great friends of the Jews? Does he believe in a two-state solution? Does he feel a sense of calm about the Holocaust?
Hoyer’s call for an apology is absurd, but it shows again that House leadership has no idea how to handle these radical voices in their own party. They jump to defend assuming the attacks are in bad faith, only to find they aren’t, and that they are defending things they can’t actually defend. This will surely not be the last time this happens.