Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers on Monday evening and attempted to explain her controversial comments on Saturday that the Holocaust gave her a “calming feeling” because, she claimed, Palestinians had provided a “safe haven” for Jews.
After Meyers introduced Tlaib and said he wanted to give her “a chance to provide some context,” Tlaib offered an explanation — though she never apologized for the offense her remark caused.
Instead, she claimed that “the reason why Israel was created was to create a safe haven for Jews around the world,” and said that she found it “beautiful” that “my ancestors, many had died or had to give up their livelihood, their human dignity to provide a safe haven for Jews in our world.”
She added that she wanted “to recognize and kind of honor” what she saw as Palestinians’ sacrifice. And she mocked those offended by her remarks as “racists” who needed to be addressed on a “fourth grade” level.
Perhaps Tlaib needs a fourth-grade history lesson. Though Israel was partly created as a “safe haven” for Jews, it was also created because Jews have a historic and religious connection to the land of Israel that dates back millennia.
Tlaib ignores that connection, and sees the creation of Israel solely as a reaction to the Holocaust, which casts Palestinians as secondary victims — or, as she puts it, self-sacrificial heroes who gave up what they had so that Jews could survive.
The truth, as even CNN pointed out on Monday, is that Palestinians opposed granting Jews a “safe haven” — and that Palestinian leadership actively collaborated with Nazi Germany.
After the Holocaust, Palestinian leaders rejected the partition of Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state, and joined other Arab states in trying to destroy the Jewish state.
None of that was necessary — not one Palestinian had to die or “give up their livelihood” or their “human dignity.” The Jews who settled in Palestine in the 19th and 20th centuries did not seize land from Palestinians; they bought it from willing Arab sellers. The two communities, Jewish and Arab, could have lived together in harmony — and indeed, that was the utopian vision sketched out by Theodor Herzl, the Zionist visionary, in books like The Old New Land.
Instead, Palestinian leaders chose to incite violence against Jewish communities — including ancient communities such as Hebron, where dozens of Jews were massacred in 1929. In the 1930s, Palestinian Arabs revolted against the British authorities in Palestine, often attacking Jewish communities as well. (That particular spate of violence convinced my great-grandfather to send my grandfather abroad; he went to South Africa, one of the few countries still open to Jews.) Palestinians also rejected offers of statehood that were conditional on taking in more Jewish immigrants from Europe.
When Israel declared independence 71 years ago, on May 14, 1948, the Palestinian Arabs decided to go to war rather than creating their own state. Again, none of that was necessary, nor was it undertaken in a spirit of self-sacrifice. In the decades since then, Palestinians have repeatedly chosen conflict over peace, rejecting Israel’s very right to exist.
There is a charitable way to interpret Tlaib’s comments, as an attempt to come to terms with the Palestinians’ terrible past choices, and to reconcile with the reality of Israel.
The trouble is that she does not actually want to reconcile with that reality. She wants to end Israel’s existence as a Jewish state and replace it with a Palestinian state, as she made clear in her podcast Saturday. Her claim about Palestinians accepting a “safe haven” for Jews is an attempt to argue that Jews would be safe as a minority within that Palestinian state, and to obscure Palestinian terrorism and extremism.
The path to reconciliation involves accepting that Jews have an authentic connection to the land, as well as the right to self-determination and self-defense.
Tlaib’s efforts to falsify history, including the history of the Holocaust, deserve condemnation — not political cover from late-night comedians.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.