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May 16, 2019 5:03 am

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s Orwellian Untruths About the Holocaust

avatar by Harold Brackman

Opinion

US Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) listens during a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the “Trump Administration’s Response to the Drug Crisis-Part II” on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 9, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis.

The political scientist Leo Strauss wrote a book, Persecution and the Art of Writing (1952), arguing that great philosophers typically practiced deception because they had to hide their true doctrines.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) loves to pose as a persecuted truth teller. Instead, she is the beneficiary of our tolerant country, where politicians can pretty much get away with anything.

Take Tlaib’s much-criticized but also much-defended recent musings about the Holocaust:

Let me tell you, I mean, for me, just two weeks ago or so, we celebrated, but just took a moment I think in our country to remember the Holocaust.

There’s always kind of a calming feeling when I think of the tragedy of the Holocaust … 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, has been wiped out … in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-Holocaust, post-tragedy and the horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time. And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that in many ways … but they did it in a way that took their human dignity away and it was forced on them.

Republicans who accuse Tlaib of Holocaust denial would seem to be wrong. After all, her ruminations make no sense if there were no Holocaust. Yet she is guilty of “Holocaust denial lite.” Why? Because she fails to acknowledge the Jews who died before, during, and after World War II, when the British hermetically sealed off Mandatory Palestine from European Jewish immigration in order to appease the bloody Arab riots of 1936 and 1939, as well as subsequent “anti-Zionist” protests.

Most of the Jews that the British turned away died in Nazi gas chambers. They were indeed victims of the Holocaust — and also of the Jew-hatred of Arabs in the British Mandate.

Tlaib emphasizes “the calm” she feels because “my ancestors … provided in many ways” Jewish Holocaust survivors with “safe haven.”

Here Tlaib enters the realm of Orwellian obfuscation. The truth about the “safe haven” provided by Palestinians for Holocaust survivors is that 7,000 Israelis had to die fighting off five invading Arab armies for the fledgling Jewish nation to achieve independence in 1948 — not to mention the decades of continuous Arab and Palestinian violence since.

During the past two decades, thanks to the pioneering scholarly detective work of Robert Satloff, we have learned that there were indeed among the “Righteous Gentiles” who saved Jews in World War II an Azerbaijani diplomat in Paris, an Egyptian doctor in Berlin, a few Muslim villagers in the Balkans, and a Turkish representative in Malta, as well as an Arab merchant in Tunisia. There probably were others who remain unknown because it was dangerous, especially after 1948, to admit in the Muslim and Arab world that you or a relative had saved Jews.

However, the sad but remarkable truth is that nobody, so far as I know, has uncovered even one “Palestinian Schindler,” who at least spoke up against Hitler’s ally, Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti, or the Holocaust.

Historian Harold Brackman is coauthor with Ephraim Isaac of From Abraham to Obama: A History of Jews, Africans, and African Americans (Africa World Press, 2015).

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