Revising Rashida Tlaib's Revisionist History
May 31, 2019
Rep. Rashida Tlaib suggesting that her people made way for Jews in “Palestine” is dishonest and whitewashes the historical reality that the leaders of the indigenous Arab population of Ottoman and British controlled Palestine colluded with the Nazis to exterminate the Jews of Europe and Palestine.
Her recent remarks beg anyone of decency to call out the lie and state the facts.
Tlaib, presents a revisionist history and false narrative that the Jewish people have no legitimate claims to the Land of Israel and that Jewish restoration to the Land is not only not our prophetic return, but is an alleged occupation by foreigners whose very presence displaces and discriminates against her “ancestors,” the supposedly “indigenous Palestinian” people. Her narrative is so full of holes, it makes one wonder if Swiss cheese is not really Palestinian cheese.
Recently however, Tlaib took fake history to a new level by overlaying this false narrative with a new level of Holocaust denial by taking credit on behalf of her “ancestors” for making way and creating a safe haven for Jews fleeing Nazi Europe. In fact, it was their Mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini, the leader of her “ancestors,” who collaborated with the Nazis to support their genocide.
She wants you to believe that the “Palestinians” are the real victims of the Holocaust. She uses the Holocaust to delegitimize Israel. Among her tactics is the invention that Israel was established because of the Holocaust. These are ploys used by “Palestinians” for decades so much that it could be called their national pastime. She’s in “good company.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ doctorate is in Holocaust denial.
Yet, by her account, the entire “Palestinian people” should be honored at Israel’s Holocaust memorial as Righteous Among the Nations for saving Jews.
Let’s set some facts straight and revise Tlaib’s sick revisionist history.
Who are “the Palestinians?”
First, lets talk about her ancestors, who the Palestinian people were, and are today.
The term “Palestine” only came into being after the Romans conquered Israel, and destroyed the Second Temple. The Romans themselves documented that the Land, then divided in provinces such as Galilee, Judea, etc., was Jewish territory. They changed the name to “Palestine” to add insult to injury of the Jews’ military defeat.
Over the centuries, “Palestine” saw many conquering forces. In modern times, “Palestine” was controlled successively by the Ottomans (Turkey) and the British. In fact, under the British, the only people referred to as “Palestinian” were the Jews.
My father and grandparents were three of some 600,000 Palestinians, Jews who became Israelis in May 1948 with the restoration of Jewish sovereignty to the Land of Israel.
The British referred to the Arabs merely as Arabs, without any particular cultural or geographic distinction. And while many of the Arabs were indeed indigenous, Tlaib hijacks history, overlooking facts. The reality is that with the return of the Jewish people to Israel, as promised prophetically, the Land flourished. Consequently, Arabs flooded Israel in search of economic opportunities.
Underscoring this, when visiting “Palestine” in 1867, Mark Twain described it as a “desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds—a silent mournful expanse... A desolation is here that not even imagination can grace with the pomp of life and action... We never saw a human being on the whole route... There was hardly a tree or a shrub anywhere. Even the olive and the cactus, those fast friends of the worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.”
Arabs thriving in “Palestine”
In late Ottoman Palestine until WWI, and then British Mandatory Palestine, the number of Arabs increased more than 200 percent, from 532,000 in 1890 to 1.18 million in 1947. Between 1890 and 1914 alone, the Arab population increased by more than 100,000, from 487,000 to 595,000. From 1922 to 1931 the Arab population increased from 660,000 to 849,000. There’s no way that this was from natural growth.
Not only did Tlaib’s “ancestors” not make way for Jews, but as many as half of them are not even indigenous. This is not to delegitimize the reality of millions of Arabs living in the biblical Land of Israel then or today. But let’s at least be honest that millions are descended from immigrants who came to the Land to benefit from the prosperity that came with the Jewish peoples’ return. Not only did they not “make room’” as if giving up land, their population doubled, and they thrived.
How did Palestinian Arabs treat the Jews, and how is that related to the Holocaust?
Tlaib’s new form of Holocaust denial underscores the lie that Jews only came to Israel as a result of the Holocaust. Yet decades before, Jews started returning, our rights there were recognized in 1917 in the Balfour Declaration.
While there may have been coexistence and a recognition that the Arabs’ prosperity horse was hitched to the Jewish return, by in large, the Arabs were antagonistic and even hostile to the Jews. Violence was the norm. The massacre of 67 Jews in Hebron, and the survivors’ subsequent expulsion in 1929 and the Arab uprising of 1936-1939 set the tone.
If Tlaib’s “ancestors” had indeed been welcoming, tens of thousands or more Jews would have in fact sought refuge there. But because of the Arabs’ hostility, the British issued the White Paper, which restricted Jewish immigration to only 75,000 over five years, precisely at the time that the Nazis began to invade Europe and begin the genocide of the Jewish people. Numerous ships full of hopeful immigrants were turned away and interred, like the famous Exodus ship filled with Holocaust survivors.
The Arab Mufti conspired with Hitler not just to oppose a Jewish state, but to bring the genocide to the Arab world. Hitler promised, “Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere.”
Tlaib talks about “wiping out of the Palestinians” is also nonsense as the numbers show. During a war that they started, and lost, rather than accepting two states in 1947, or any time since, many Arabs were displaced and became refugees. Many died in war just as Israeli Jews died, but they were never wiped out. Tlaib wants you to think that her “ancestors” suffered the same fate as the Jews of Europe, not only fake history but a complete hijacking of the Holocaust.
A culture of victimhood
Had the Arabs accepted Israel, there would have been no war, no refugees or displacements, and two states living side by side. During the 1947-1949 war Arabs were told to leave by their own leaders. As five Arab armies converged intoxicated with hate to “annihilate it,” they believed that they would return to take back their land, and that of the Jews.
It’s timely to share this now as Palestinian Arabs just observed the “nakba” or catastrophe of Israel’s independence. Their actual disaster is their rejection of Israel because what was true then remains true today—that Arabs can thrive in partnership, living as neighbors with Jews. Rather than portraying a narrative that Israel is evil that has no legitimacy, they should have then, and still should, aspire to live in peace.
Tlaib perpetuates a lie of multiple dimensions and does not serve the interest of peace, or of her “people,” or her constituents in Michigan. Rather, she desecrates the U.S. Congress with her hateful brand of Holocaust denial and historical revisionism.
U.S.-born and educated Jonathan Feldstein immigrated to Israel in 2004. Throughout his life and career, he has fellowshipped with Christian supporters of Israel and shares experiences of living as an Orthodox Jew in Israel. He writes a regular column for Standing With Israel at charismanews.com and other prominent web sites. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.