During a recent SkullDuggery Podcast on Yahoo!, Rep Rashida Tlaib dropped a few historically illiterate thoughts on the Holocaust and Israel. None of it was especially surprising to anyone who’s followed far-left or Palestinian rhetoric for any amount of time.
For Tlaib, the Holocaust was primarily a tragedy for the Palestinian people, who were unable to repel Jewish immigration and stop the formation of a Zionist state. Her words are a helpful reminder of not only why Israel exists, but also that the tragedy of the Palestinian people is neither the fault of the Jews, nor the British, nor the Holocaust.
Tlaib offers two revisionist claims: The first revolves around the contention that Palestinian Arabs were not only welcoming of the Jews, but actually sacrificed their own dignity and lives so Jews could be safe. The second contends that Jews were, or would be, safe under Palestinian rule. Here’s how she put it:
I think two weeks ago or so we celebrated, or just took a moment I think in our country to remember the Holocaust. There’s always kind of a calming feeling I tell folks 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, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports… all of it was in the name of trying to create a safe haven for Jews, post-the Holocaust, post-the 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, right, in many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away and it was forced on them. And so, when I think about a one-state, I think about the fact that why can’t we do it in a better way? And I don’t want people to do it in the name of Judaism, just like I don’t want people to use Islam in that way. It has to be done in a way of values around equality and around the fact that you shouldn’t oppress others so that you can feel free and safe. Why can’t we all be free and safe together?
A charitable reading of Tlaib’s claim of being “calmed” by the Holocaust is that she believes her ancestors offered safe harbor for Jews who were running from the European slaughter. Yet any rudimentary reading of history proves the rest of her contention laughable.
The Zionist movement long predated Hitler, even if Palestinian leadership had aligned itself with the Nazis during the war. By the time the Holocaust was over, Jews had already gained enough power to defend themselves, and Arabs had already been launching pogroms, terrorism, and political attacks for decades.
Although some Arabs initially welcomed Jewish migration in the 1900s, they would become victim to Palestinian leadership—a number of Arab mayors, landowners, and others were assassinated for conspiring with Jews, just as they are today.
After the Balfour Declaration of 1917, a British government document that endorsed “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” and pledged to “use its best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine,” there was immediate and violent anti-Semitic reaction.
This, despite the fact that Jewish migration had been exceptionally beneficial for the Arabs living in the area. Rarely mentioned in the Israeli-Palestinian debate, in fact, is that significant Arab migration into a largely empty land was spurred by Jewish economic development. Jews were not displacing Arabs, they were attracting them.
Not that it mattered. As the Peel Commission Report, a British paper recommending partition in 1936, noted, “the Arabs have benefited by the development of the country owing to Jewish immigration, this has had no conciliatory effect. On the contrary… with almost mathematical precision the betterment of the economic situation in Palestine meant the deterioration of the political situation.”
Even Palestinian “moderates” like Musa Alami told Zionist leader David Ben-Gurion “he would prefer the land to remain poor and desolate even for another hundred years” if the alternative was collaboration with Jews. Neither Alami nor Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem and leader of the Palestinian cause, nor the father of modern terrorism, Yasser Arafat, nor his protégé, Mahmoud Abbas, ever shared in their deprivations of their people. It was the opposite, in fact. Palestinian leaders have always enriched themselves on this conflict.
“Why can’t we all be free and safe together?” It’s a good question. Long before the Holocaust, every single major Jewish Zionistic organization, even the right-wing ones, saw the Jewish state as giving equal rights to the Arab population. As they do today. At one point, Ben-Gurion argued that a Jewish state should be a nation under the auspices of an Arab federation.
When Vladimir Jabotinsky—the great, and often smeared, Zionist leader who would lead the forerunner of Likud—drafted the first constitution for Jewish Palestine, he gave Arabs and Jews the same duties of statehood, including military and civil service. Both Hebrew and Arabic would have had the same legal standing, and “in every cabinet where the prime minister is a Jew, the vice-premiership shall be offered to an Arab and vice versa.”
This plan was rejected. Then again, every plan that didn’t end in complete subservience of Jews to the Palestinians was rejected with violence. This hasn’t changed in 80 years.
Decades before the Holocaust, the grand mufti personally engineered or incited massacres of Jews from 1920 onward. One such incident in the ancient Jewish city of Hebron saw more than 100 civilians killed by mobs, many of them students and teachers, after Husseini spread rumors about Jews taking control of the Temple Mount (which, in reality, Jews were often barred from visiting). Spreading false rumors about Jews’ intention to occupy or expel Muslims from holy sites is nothing new. Husseini did it. Arafat did it. Fatah is doing it today.
And it was because the British offered virtually no protection for Jewish communities that defense units, mostly made up of farmers, were first created. There was no choice. Far from “trying to create a safe haven for Jews,” the British regularly gave in to Arab violence.
In the 1939 White Paper, the British announced that an independent Arab state would be created within 10 years, and that Jewish immigration was to be limited for five years and then stopped completely. The policy barred sales of land to Jews in 95 percent of Palestinian territory. Even that wasn’t enough for the Arabs, who rejected the plan.
Restrictions on immigration would cost Jewish lives. Then again, the Husseinis, the leading force in Palestinian politics, showed great enthusiasm for the Nazi cause. They modeled their Palestinian youth organization on the ideas of Hitlerjugend, initially calling it “The Nazi Scouts.”
Husseini not only ramped up violence in the Middle East, he directly participated in the oppression of Jews during World War II. As a guest of Hitler, he helped recruit thousands of Muslims to join a division of the Waffen-SS, who then played an active role in the destruction of Yugoslavian Jewry. In his Berlin radio speeches during the war, Husseini preached: “Kill the Jews wherever you find them—this pleases God, history and religion.” Such words would find a safe space in any Hamas lecture.
Husseini personally, with the backing of Himmler, Eichmann, and other Nazis, intervened to stop the issuing of at least 400,000 visas to Jews trying to emigrate to British Palestine. Most of those Jews ended up in concentration camps rather than the “safe harbor” of Haifa.
In 1943, after hearing that some German allies were negotiating with the International Red Cross and others to transport thousands of Jewish children to Palestine to avoid death, he lobbied to prevent the rescue, pushing to have them sent to Poland to perish. Husseini was accused of war crimes by the Nuremberg tribunal. This hardly seems like a person offering a safe haven for Jews.
“Why can’t we all be free and safe together?” Surely we needn’t get too bogged down in explaining that the United Nations partition plan—which would have created a Jewish state and independent contiguous Arab one —was rejected by Palestinians in 1947. Or that those Palestinians, with nearly every Arab nation, then attempted to engage in a massacre of Jews only a few years after the Holocaust. Maybe Tlaib doesn’t know about this.
Since that time, Arab aggression has been responsible for forging Israel’s borders and creating “occupied” territories. Not one leader was concerned about the formation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank or Gaza from 1947-1967. Like Tlaib, most Palestinians consider the entire land occupied. Since the Six Day War, every good-faith effort made at peace with the Palestinians has ended in violence.
Peace can be had easily when Palestinian leadership stops embracing the anti-Semitic terrorism that’s rationalized and girded by historical fantasies that people like Tlaib perpetuate. Even as Palestinian leadership demands Israel open its borders to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of descendants of refugees from 70 years ago—most of whom left on their own volition—they also demand a Jewish-free West Bank. The entire argument for such a policy is based on myth.
So when Tlaib was asked how her “one-state solution” would work for Jews in reality, she responded, “that’s not up to us to decide what it looks like.” She’s right. History has already decided what it looks like. And no revisionist attempts to erase that story will change that reality.