Rashida Tlaib’s long history of controversial remarks, from the Holocaust to 9/11
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Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., has made headlines over a slew of controversial remarks since becoming a congresswoman, many of which have focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
One of six members of the progressive group of House Representatives known as « The Squad, » Tlaib has come under fire from Republicans and fellow Democrats for what some have called « anti-Semitic » rhetoric. However, members of the liberal media have largely failed to hold him to account.
Tlaib says you can’t be progressive and also support the Israeli government
Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, recently spoke out against the Jewish state at an online event organized by Americans for Justice in Palestine Action.
« I want you all to know that among progressives it’s becoming clear that you cannot claim to hold progressive values while supporting the apartheid government of Israel, » Tlaib said.
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Sharing an article about his Jerusalem Post comments on Twitter last week, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, DN.Y., spoke out against Tlaib.
« I fundamentally reject the idea that one cannot support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state and to be progressive, » Nadler said.
Former Democratic National Committee leader Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., also criticized Tlaib and said in a tweet Wednesday that questioning people’s progressive credentials about their support for Israel is an « outrageous litmus test. » and « nothing less than anti-Semitic. »
Anti-Israel sentiment has been a hallmark of the American far left, with few exceptions. Nadler and Schultz aren’t the only ones in the party refusing to follow the trend. Progressive Rep. Ritchie Torres, DN.Y., has also frequently clashed with « The Squad. »
But those within the Democratic ranks who are concerned about Tlaib’s characterizations of Israel are often drowned out by progressive party members, as well as leftist media figures, who have ignored his comments or, in some cases , even come to his defense.
MSNBC’s « The ReidOut » blog writer Ja’han Jones said Thursday that House Democrats, such as Nadler and Schultz, were using « Trumpian disinformation tactics » to disparage Tlaib.
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The writer claimed Democrats were attacking Tlaib for something she « never said » and accused Democrats of confusing the current government of Israel with the real state of Israel.
But this isn’t the first time Tlaib has raised eyebrows since she began representing Michigan’s 13th congressional district in 2019. Tlaib, who was one of the first female members of the Democratic Socialists for the America to sit in Congress, called for abolishing US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the police and the federal prison system. She was also highly critical of the Trump administration, arguing that he was racist against blacks and browns, including Muslims, and was a strong supporter of his impeachment.
But Tlaib has received the most widespread criticism for his harsh words against the Israeli government, his calls for an end to US aid to Israel and his support for a « one-state solution ».
Tlaib calls Israel a ‘racist state’ and an ‘apartheid’ government
In May 2021, during an interview with MSNBC host Ayman Mohyeldin, Tlaib again called Israel an « apartheid » government, a position she repeatedly reinforced. She also claimed that the Palestinians were the object of « racist policies » put in place by the former Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.
A few months earlier in January, Tlaib told « Democracy Now! » that Israel is a « racist state » and accused them of denying Palestinians access to the coronavirus vaccine.
Tlaib received no pushback on his comments from those interviewed in those interviews.
In 2019, Tlaib came under fire for two separate remarks, one involving 9/11 and the other involving the Holocaust.
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Talib comes under fire for using the word ‘appeasement’ during Holocaust discussion
« There’s always a sort of soothing feeling that I tell people when I think of the Holocaust and the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the fact that it was my ancestors – the Palestinians – who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihoods, their human dignity, their existence in many ways, were wiped out, along with some people’s passports,” Tlaib said in a May 2019 interview with a Yahoo News podcast.
Tlaib’s comment immediately sparked outrage across the political spectrum, with people particularly objecting to the MP’s use of the word « calming ».
The media came out in force to defend Tlaib following his remarks.
Days later, a Washington Post analysis by Amber Phillips titled « Republicans Ignoring Reality to Distort Rep. Tlaib’s ‘Soothing’ Remarks on the Holocaust, » hit back at the progressive Democrat’s criticism.
“His sense that Palestinians were martyrs to persecuted Jews is not popular among Israel supporters. And Tlaib framed his comments awkwardly. “Calm” is not a word normally attributed to any aspect of the Holocaust, » wrote Philips. « She was openly critical of what happened to the Palestinians, but she prefaces by saying she has a positive opinion about it. It’s dissonant. But it’s not even in the same universe as saying that the Holocaust itself calms her. »
The fact-checking website Snopes also came to Tlaib’s defense and claimed that Tlaib celebrated the Holocaust and that it gave him a sense of appeasement, a rating of fake.
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In fact, Tlaib also said she recently « celebrated » the Holocaust, but quickly changed her wording to say she « took a while » to remember the Holocaust.
NBC’s « Late Night » host Seth Meyers even offered Tlaib an interview on his show to allow him to clarify his comments about the genocide.
She said her comments were meant to honor her Palestinian ancestors who provided safe haven for Jews during the Holocaust and who lost their lives trying to protect those who fled to Israel and Palestine.
« And it was unfortunate, you know, I got a text from a friend who said, ‘Hey next time, you know, really clear it up. Maybe talk like a fourth grader. Because maybe the racist idiots would understand you better,' » Tlaib added as the audience laughed and clapped.
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Tlaib is asked about Ilhan Omar’s controversial 9/11 remarks
Four years ago, fellow « squad » member Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., sparked controversy as she spoke at a fundraiser for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR ) in 2019, where she spoke about the September 11 attacks and the founding of CAIR.
« Here’s the truth: for too long we’ve been living with the discomfort of being a second-class citizen and, frankly, I’m sick of it, and every Muslim in this country should be sick of it, » Omar said.
“CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people had done something and we were all starting to lose access to our civil liberties,” Omar continued.
Many took issue with the way Omar described the attacks, particularly with the phrasing of « some people did something ». The New York Post, in particular, plastered Omar’s words on the cover of the newspaper with the Twin Towers burning in the background.
During an appearance on MSNBC, Tlaib was asked if Omar should have rethought his remarks and if they were appropriate.
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“They do this to us all the time, especially women of color,” Tlaib said. « They do that, they take our words out of context because they’re scared, because we’re speaking the truth. We’re speaking the truth to power. »
Tlaib further dismissed Omar’s criticism as a « racist » and « hateful act ».
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer and Houston Keene contributed to this report.