Last week, during his fateful interview with Meghan McCain, Seth Meyers urged The View host to be “careful” with the language she has used to criticize Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who has been repeatedly accused by the right of promoting anti-Semitism.
Now, it’s Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)—the only other Muslim woman in Congress—who is under fire for the very same thing.
“Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust,” President Donald Trump tweeted Monday morning. “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 president was alluding to comments made by Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent, about the “calming feeling” she gets when thinking about how the Palestinian people “lost their land and some lost their lives, their livelihood, their human dignity, their existence in many ways” all “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.”
Predictably, Republicans have taken Tlaib’s comments out of context to claim that she said the Holocaust itself gives her a “calming feeling.”
Asked by Meyers on Monday night how her first few months in Congress have been, Tlaib replied, “I mean, it’s interesting. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship, but my residents keep me grounded and remind me every day why I have to keep going there and fighting for them.”
The Late Night host later clarified that the show has had Tlaib booked “for months” and she just happened to be appearing at the end of a particularly “crazy” day.
“You were talking about the tragedy of the Holocaust and the words you used was it gave you a ‘calming feeling’ because you were happy that it became a safe haven, Palestine became a safe haven for the Jewish people,” Meyers said. “Some criticized the use of ‘calming feeling.’ You have said that it was taken out of context. I want to give you a chance to provide some context.”
Explaining that her grandmother still lives in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Tlaib said, “You know, the tragedy of the Holocaust—I mean, the reason why Israel was created was to create a safe haven for Jews around the world and there is something, in many ways, beautiful about, that my ancestors—many had died or had to give up their livelihood, their human dignity to provide a safe haven for Jews in our world. And that is something I wanted to recognize and kind of honor in some sort of way.”
“But I also think it’s important, because I want the Palestinian people also to find some sort of, you know, light in this, kind of, what’s happening,” she continued. “But also, you know, in the end, I said, I want all of us to feel safe. All of us deserve human dignity, no matter our backgrounds, no matter our ethnicity, no matter even our political opinions we all deserve that kind of equality and justice. And you know, for me, I wanted to uplift that and bring that to light and it was unfortunate.”
Tlaib went on to joke that she got a text message from someone who suggested she “talk like a fourth grader” next time so that “maybe the racist idiots” would understand her better.
“So I will continue to speak truth to power and continue to uplift my grandmother through love and that’s all I can do,” she said, “is continue to share the human impact of what it means to be Palestinian in the occupied territories.”
For Meyers’ part, he said he thinks it’s “nice to have someone in Congress” who’s Palestinian and agreed that it “wouldn’t hurt for all of us to talk about the history of that part of the world on a fourth-grade level because I actually don’t think a lot of us here understand it” He added, “I think that a very, very bad faith argument was made today that you were ‘calmed’ by the Holocaust.”
But then he added, “I think there was a good faith argument that maybe your history was not in alignment with everyone else. And, I mean, do you feel like there’s a way to talk about the history of that part of the world that people here in this country that maybe don’t fully understand it could grasp it more?”
“Absolutely,” Tlaib replied, comparing her unique perspective on Israel-Palestine relations to those who, like her, grew up in the “most beautiful blackest city in the world,” Detroit. “That lens that I bring to this issue, and that’s how I talk about it the fact that, you know, we are dehumanizing a whole community to uplift others,” she said. “But I don’t think that’s truly going to keep anybody safe. It’s truly not going to lead towards peace and equality and justice.”
“And you have to, when you look at this issue, come from a place of values,” Tlaib added. “You know, people want to go ahead a jump and choose sides. No, come from a place of values, because by the end, you will choose the right side of history when you do that.”