In April, Rep. Omar Ilhan’s (D-Minn.) trivialization of al-Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001 attacks worked so well that in May, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) pulled off something bigger regarding the Holocaust. In June, it might be worthwhile for Americans—Jews and non-Jews—to recognize democracy is threatened from the post-liberal left as well as from the far right.
To review: Speaking at a fund-raiser for the Council on American Islamic Relations, Omar described the 9/11 murders of nearly 3,000 human beings by Muslim terrorists as “some people did something.” She then claimed CAIR was formed in reaction to protect American Muslim civil liberties.
In fact, CAIR formed in 1994 as a Muslim Brotherhood spin-off, intended to advance the Egyptian-based fundamentalist movement’s goals in the United States. It was an unindicted co-conspirator in America’s biggest terrorism-funding case, the 2009 Holy Land Relief Foundation retrial. Five men—one a co-founder of CAIR’s Texas chapter—were sentenced to prison for laundering $12 million to Hamas (the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement), a federally-designated terrorist organization.
Yet Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he found “nothing wrong” in Omar’s remarks. A sycophantic Stephen Colbert provided the representative—known for charging that an evil Israel had “hypnotized” the world and U.S. support for the Jewish state was “all about the Benjamins”—a spotlight on CBS’ “The Late Show.”
Sensing a flashing yellow if not green light, Rep. Tlaib then told Yahoo News “there’s a kind of a calming feeling … 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 ….”
Tlaib’s breath-taking Israeli-Palestinian inversion made Omar’s 9/11 minimization a comparative model of historical accuracy. Yet the Michigan congresswoman received a similar protective embrace. Prominent Republicans condemned Tlaib as if she had said thinking of the Holocaust comforted her when instead she cleverly presented a false description of Palestinian displacement. Off-target reaction inadvertently aided her deception.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), again running for the Democrats’ presidential nomination, supported Tlaib against her GOP critics. But epitomizing those falling for her shell game of Palestinian suffering was Washington Post syndicated columnist Richard Cohen.
‘Narrative’ as mendacious mantra
He parroted Tlaib’s claim her people in the Middle East were made to pay for the Nazis’ onslaught against Europe’s Jews: “… Tlaib was [only] trying to reconcile her horror at the murder of most European Jews with its consequence—the creation of Israel which, to Palestinians, was the nakba, the disaster. That’s not hard to understand.”
Not if one subscribes to “the Palestinian narrative.” But the narrative’s false premise of Palestinian Arab dispossession by racist Zionists has helped reanimate antisemitism in Europe and North America. In fact, both Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt noted how Jewish settlement attracted Arabs to Palestine.
British Mandatory Palestine was created by the League of Nations in part of the former Ottoman Empire to enable restoration of the historic Jewish homeland. Contrary to Tlaib’s self-comforting myth, to block Jewish immigration Palestinian Arabs collaborated in the Holocaust. They did so by, among other things:
*Staging the 1936-1939 anti-Jewish, anti-British revolt. Funded in part by fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, the violence helped induce Great Britain to virtually close Palestine to further Jewish immigration, trapping European Jewry.
*Heeding “the Palestinian George Washington,” Haj Amin al-Husseini. From the early 1920s on, al-Husseini preached a virulent anti-Jewish, anti-democratic form of Islamic supremacism. He spent World War II in Berlin, concurred with Hitler on the need to eliminate the Jews of Europe and the Middle East, and funded by the Nazis made influential Arabic short-wave radio broadcasts. One of his listeners was an Iranian the world later would know as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
*Rejecting the U.N.’s 1947 Palestine partition plan. It called for a tiny Jewish state and another Palestinian Arab majority country in addition to Jordan. In the months between rejection of partition and the 1948 invasion of the new Jewish state by five Arab armies, Palestinian Arab terrorists murdered nearly 1,000 Palestinian Jews.
Palestinian Arabs did not so much pay for the Nazi Holocaust as they contributed to its scope. The nakba was not imposed on them; it was the consequence of their rejectionism. Tlaib’s invocation of the Holocaust, whether from sincere ignorance or mendacious manipulation, denies history. Tolerance of it exposes the anti-Zionist antisemitism corroding the progressive left.
Eric Rozenman is author of Jews Make the Best Demons: “Palestine” and the Jewish Question, published last year by New English Review Press. Any opinions expressed above are solely his own.