Representative Rashida Tlaib’s Israel Comments Conjure Controversy

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Representative Rashida Tlaib’s Israel Comments Conjure Controversy

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Freshman Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib became one of the first two Muslims ever elected as a US Representative last year, and the first ever Palestinian- American representative. In the short time she’s been representing Michigan’s 13th congressional district, she’s managed to make national news several times over some controversial comments and stances on issues, Israel in particular.

Tlaib has been a staunch critic of both Israel and US foreign aid to the country, supporting the Palestinian Right of Return. During an appearance on a Yahoo News podcast last Friday, she said of the history of Palestine and Israel: “It was my ancestors — Palestinians — who lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity. Their existence, in many ways, had been wiped out. I mean, just 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.” She added that she “[loves] the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that [safe haven], in many ways.”

Her words quickly drew harsh criticism from House Republicans who criticized her for misrepresenting history- Palestinians were very resistant to the initial creation of Israel- and interpreted her words as support for the Holocaust itself. President Trump tweeted: “Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust. She obviously has tremendous hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. Can you imagine what would happen if I ever said what she said, and says?”

While Tlaib has been challenging party lines on many issues, Democrats have come to her defense against critics. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the “desperate attempts to smear @RepRashida” with “gross misrepresentations” of her comments. Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar, the other of the first two Muslims elected to congress tweeted that the GOP’s criticism of Tlaib’s statement “is another transparent attempt to sow division b/t minority communities and distract from your own criminal behavior by smearing a Muslim woman. No one should fall for it this time.”