Pelosi slams Trump, Republicans for trying to ‘smear’ Tlaib, calls for apology
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Pelosi slams Trump, Republicans for trying to ‘smear’ Tlaib, calls for apology

House speaker says attacks against Michigan Democrat are ‘outrageous, gross misrepresentations’ of her comment on the Holocaust

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks prior to a meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez at the US Capitol in Washington on February 13, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks prior to a meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez at the US Capitol in Washington on February 13, 2019. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib on Monday as US President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans attacked her for remarks about the Holocaust that they said were anti-Semitic. Pelosi demanded they apologize to the freshmen lawmaker.

“Republicans’ desperate attempts to smear @RepRashida & misrepresent her comments are outrageous,” Pelosi tweeted. “President @realDonaldTrump & House GOP should apologize to Rep. Tlaib & the American people for their gross misrepresentations.

Other Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a staunch pro-Israel legislator, also said the president and other GOP critics were taking Tlaib’s comments out of context.

The Michigan Democrat was recently interviewed on the Yahoo News Skullduggery podcast, in which she said she gets “a calming feeling” when she thinks of “the tragedy of the Holocaust” and how the suffering of her Palestinian ancestors helped in trying to create “a safe haven” for Jews in the new state of Israel.

Trump on Monday morning said that her remarks reflected her “hatred” for both Israel and Jews.

US Rep. Rashida Tlaib, listens during a House Oversight and Reform subcommittee hearing on PFAS chemicals and their risks on March 6, 2019, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Sait Serkan Gurbuz)

“Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust,” he tweeted. “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?”

The Republican Jewish Coalition also sent out an email castigating Tlaib while only partially quoting her. “There’s kind of a calming feeling I always tell folks when I think of the Holocaust,” they quoted her as saying — and ended it there.

When asked by hosts Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman about her support for a one-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, she noted the recent commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“There’s a kind of a calming feeling, I always 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, had been wiped out,” she said at the 28-minute mark of the podcast, dated Friday. “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 horrific persecution of Jews across the world at that time.”

She continued: “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, right? And it was forced on them. And so, when I think about one-state, I think about the fact that, why couldn’t we do it in a better way?”

Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Anti-Defamation League, speaking at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York City, Oct. 2, 2015. (Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that three things were simultaneously true: Tlaib should clarify her remarks, given the sensitive nature of the Holocaust; Palestinians didn’t try to protect Jews from the Nazi slaughter; and politicians shouldn’t try to “weaponize” her statements to gain political advantage.

“When any public figure makes comments about deeply sensitive issues, such as the horrors of the Holocaust, that are inaccurate or misinterpreted, it’s appropriate to clarify/correct their remarks,” Greenblatt tweeted.

He added that, “Palestinians did not provide ‘safe haven’ to Jews post-Holocaust. They opposed the entry of Jews to Mandate-era Palestine and opposed the creation of a Jewish state alongside an Arab state.”

What’s more, he said, it was “not acceptable for elected leaders to weaponize others’ comments about Jews or the Holocaust for political gain. To move forward in fighting , we must end the blame game.”

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