In explaining the “calming feeling” produced within her by reflection on the Holocaust, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib invoked the now-common canard that Palestinian Arabs suffered as a result of the annihilation of European Jewry. Had there been no Holocaust, the reasoning goes, Jews would not have been allowed to form a state in their historic homeland. Robert Rozett comments on a crucial aspect of her distortion of history:
Asserting that Israel’s creation was a direct response to the Holocaust overlooks the ancient and ceaseless connection of the Jewish people to Israel, as well as the modern Zionist enterprise that returned an exiled and oppressed people to their ancestral home. It also ignores the existence of a vibrant pre-World War II Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine, whose population was severely circumscribed because of the virulent opposition by local Arabs to the very idea of Jews returning to the Land of Israel.
Throughout Europe following the Nazi rise to power, a great many Zionists were deeply frustrated by the quotas set for aliyah by the British, and they later became victims of the Holocaust, having never had the opportunity to realize their dreams of reaching the Land of Israel. It is impossible even to begin to divine what their contribution could have been to Israel, to the Jewish people, and to the world.
Tlaib’s framing also disregards the British government’s pre-war proposal to partition Mandatory Palestine, which was designed to reconcile the desires of Jews for a Jewish state in their historic home with the desire of Arabs for Palestine to be completely Arab. This plan, which never came to fruition, was painfully accepted by the Jewish leadership and categorically rejected by the Arabs.