May 14, 2019

Repeat after me: "Palestinians and Jews are BOTH deeply traumatized groups who deserve respect and safety."

You'll hear that instruction throughout this piece.

Over the weekend, on Yahoo's "Skullduggery" podcast, freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) reflected on the Holocaust and her personal connection to the impact it had on her family.

And there's, you know, this 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, the human dignity, their existence in many ways have been wiped out and some people's passports, 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..

(Repeat after me: "Palestinians and Jews are BOTH deeply traumatized groups who deserve respect and safety.")

Now, as John King and one of his guests, Aaron David Miller explain, there was zero benevolence in Palestinian sentiment regarding the establishment of Israel. Palestinian leadership sided with Hitler, and had their own plans for slaughter of Jews. But based on just this statement, it seems that Rep. Tlaib was attempting to reconcile her family's generations of trauma with the fact that at least the end result was a safe haven for Jews after the horrors THEY suffered during the Holocaust. In her way, tortured as it was, she was expressing solidarity.

But because a young brown woman with power spoke, there's Republican outrage. I mean, everyone knows how much the right just looooooooooooves Israel and Jews, don't we? (Fun Fact: Right Wing Christian Evangelicals provide more support for Israel than American Jews.) They love those of us who share the same loathsome prejudices as they do, the Jews who have fully embraced white supremacy. They love us when they try to use us as examples of a model minority. They love us when we can serve as their token evidence that they aren't anti-Semitic because ISRAEL and ISLAMOPHOBIA. Make no mistake, though. These Republicans do not have my Jewish interests at heart. They do more to perpetuate anti-Semitism than eradicate it.

Yet somehow, there has been a rash of blonde, white, non-Jews rushing to defend us against perceived ant-Semitism. Meghan McCain, for example, even claims to be a victim of anti-Semitism. (whut?) And after Rep. Tlaib's comment, in swooped Rep. Liz Cheney, to white savior us from the mean brown woman who was obviously trying to overcome pain in order to reach out and make peace with us.

Um...let me be at least the thousandth Jew to tell you, Lizzy, we're okay without you. We don't need your "help."

But why listen to me when so many people have said it on Twitter so much better than I could?

Okay, okay, listen to me, too.


(Repeat after me: "Palestinians and Jews are BOTH deeply traumatized groups who deserve respect and safety.")

Here is the statement that shocked and pleased me more than any of the others, because it came from Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, someone who'd been quick (TOO quick, in my opinion) to criticize Reps Tlaib and Omar in the past. He's white, he holds a lot of political power in the House, he's Jewish, he's a staunch ally (TOO staunch, in my opinion) of Israel, and he was called on by name to reprimand Rep.Tlaib by Cheney for her remarks.

I don't want to diminish Jewish people who heard Rep. Tlaib's words and went into active fight/flight mode. Even right-wing Jews who may be @ssholes. (*side-eye to Ben Shapiro and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach*) Here is why: this trauma is generational and runs deep. Even Jews who are right-wing a$$holes deserve protection from anti-Semitism, and cannot help the sensory tingling when alarm bells go off.

I don't want to diminish Aaron David Miller's, and other Jewish cohorts' strong beliefs that the Holocaust should NEVER be used in political imagery, though I don't agree with it. I get it. It was a unique systemic genocide. But it's kind of hard to NOT make comparisons when people in this country crash Holocaust Remembrance events chanting "SIX MILLION MORE."

Even to these fellow Jews, I would say...Repeat after me: "Palestinians and Jews are BOTH deeply traumatized groups who deserve respect and safety."

Ha'aretz journalist, Allison Sommer said it best.

Repeat after me...

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to Anderson Cooper as the discussion moderator. It was John King. We regret the error.

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