Rashida Tlaib has made headlines in the past few days for her historical revisionism regarding the Holocaust. Her comments about having a “calming feeling” were certainly insensitive and poorly thought out, but it isn’t the main issue with her statement. Tlaib went on in her statement to claim that the State of Israel was founded because of the Holocaust, and asserts that the Palestinians welcomed Jewish refugees with open arms into “their land” before being taken advantage of and brutally kicked out.
Like the United States, United Kingdom, and other Western countries, the Arabs of Mandatory Palestine were adamantly opposed to allowing Jewish refugees a safe haven in the land. It mattered not that Adolf Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, was already encouraging pogroms and the “Final Solution” against European Jewry. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, was an ally of Hitler. He paid many visits to Nazi-occupied territories in Europe, pledging to have Hitler enact a “Final Solution” to Middle Eastern Jewry once he’d finished with Europe. Husseini and Hitler worked together to block the transfer of Jews from Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania to Mandatory Palestine. He encouraged Arab pogroms against the Jewish population in Mandatory Palestine, both before and during the Second World War. He also encouraged an Arab revolt against the occupying British forces, blaming the violence on Britain’s approval of a Jewish homeland in the territory. Subsequently, the British severely curtailed Jewish immigration into the land, despite the rise of the Nazis and the desperation of Jewish refugees to return to their homeland. We all know how that ended.
The Palestinians committed pogroms against Jewish communities in Mandatory Palestine. They forced the British to “shut the gates” to Jews in our people’s darkest hour, condemning them to genocide. They spread anti-Semitic propaganda throughout the Middle East, and aligned with the Nazis. The United States and United Kingdom turned a blind eye to the atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jewish people. But Palestinians didn’t create a “safe haven” of any kind for the Jews–they were complicit in the Holocaust.
China — which faced occupation and war crimes by the Japanese Empire–created a safe haven for Jewish refugees.
The Philippines — also occupied by Japan — created a safe haven for Jewish refugees.
Even the Japanese Empire itself created a safe haven for Jewish refugees.
The fact that an Axis country and the countries it colonized were giving shelter to Jews fleeing the Holocaust should forever shame the Allies & the Palestinians, who like to portray themselves as victims or saviors in this circumstance despite evidence to the contrary.
Instead of politicking and giving more ammunition to US President Donald Trump, Democrats should be focusing on correcting Tlaib’s historical inaccuracies. If they truly are for peace & reconciliation between Israeli and Palestinians, Democratic lawmakers should not let this conversation be made about Islamophobia, Donald Trump, or current US MidEast policies. They should set the record straight. A dismissal of these atrocities solidifies the mistrust between Jews & Palestinians, as well as between Israel’s right-wing government and left-wing forces abroad.
While some Jews have started to accept some of the wrongdoings for the Nakba and tried to make amends, we have yet to see a reciprocation from the Palestinian community. If the progressive movement, and others seeking a just end to this conflict, truly want to see a “fair and balanced” policy towards Israel & the Palestinians, they will stop infantilizing Rashida Tlaib and the Palestinian leadership. They will hold them accountable for their actions–as they’ve done for Israel–rather than giving in to the soft bigotry of low expectations.