Israel’s former ambassador to the U.S. defends Rashida Tlaib’s comments on the Holocaust. Sort of.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) faced criticism, chiefly from President Trump, for her comments on Palestine’s role in the post-Holocaust era, but she’s found a — partial — defender in Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States.

Tlaib spurred a lot of reactions after she said that she supports a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict, pointing to the idea that Palestinians lost their lives to provide a “safe haven” for Jews seeking refuge in Palestine in the wake of the Holocaust. However, many critics latched onto one line from her broader comments, in which she said thinking of the Holocaust gave her a “calming feeling,” though Tlaib was referring to Palestinians’ efforts to aid Jewish refugees in the years following. Trump called the comments “horrible and highly insensitive.”

Oren, the center-right ambassador who served Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu between 2009 and 2013, appears to have listened to all of Tlaib’s words, tweeting on Monday that he does not agree with the sentiment that they were anti-Semitic. But, that doesn’t mean he sees no grounds for criticism. Oren considers Tlaib’s interpretation of the post-Holocaust era in Palestine an example of poor historical revisionism that ignores darker elements of the time period, including Palestinian collaboration with Nazi forces prior to the end of the war. In the end, though, Oren makes the argument that misunderstanding historical events should not be equated with anti-Semitism.


Tlaib’s comment was not anti-Semitic but ahistorical. The Palestinians massacred Jews, violently opposed their search for shelter, and collaborated with the Nazis. But gross ignorance of history must be distinguished from anti-Semitism.

— Michael Oren (@DrMichaelOren) May 13, 2019


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