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'Falsehoods rooted in hate': Liz Cheney repeats lies about Tlaib's Holocaust remarks

Former vice president's daughter continues to distort Palestinian-American congresswoman's comments
Congresswoman Cheney was one of the first to accuse Tlaib of anti-Semitism on Sunday (Reuters)
By Ali Harb in Washington

Senior Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney has repeatedly distorted recent remarks by Palestinian-American lawmaker Rashida Tlaib, accusing her colleague in the US House of Representatives of anti-Semitism.

Speaking at the Hudson Institute in Washington on Tuesday, Cheney doubled down on her attacks against Tlaib despite growing outrage at the unfounded accusation that the Democratic congresswoman insulted victims of the Holocaust.

"What you are seeing today out of some of my colleagues on the Democratic side in the House is a kind of vitriolic anti-Semitism that should have no place in any of our public discourse," Cheney said.

"And I think yesterday was a really dangerous turning point," she added, referring to Democratic leaders coming out in defence of Tlaib.

It all began over the weekend during an interview Tlaib gave to a Yahoo News podcast.

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Liz Cheney (MEE)
Liz Cheney speaking at the Hudson Institute, 14 May (MEE/Ali Harb)

She said that despite the dispossession and displacement of Palestinians when Israel was founded, it gives her a "calming feeling" that her ancestors' homeland became a safe haven for Jewish people after the Holocaust.

'Go read the remarks, or go listen to the tape'

- Congresswoman Liz Cheney

Cheney and other Republicans, including US President Donald Trump, pounced on her remarks, falsely claiming that the Muslim-American lawmaker said the Holocaust itself gave her a calming feeling.

In response to a question by Middle East Eye on Tuesday, Cheney said she was not lying about Tlaib's comments.

"Go read the remarks, or go listen to the tape," said Cheney, who is the daughter of former US Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I mean if you look at the remarks in their entirety - and first of all, there is no context in which to say it's okay - 'When I think of the Holocaust, it gives me a calming feeling.' There is no context in which that's okay."

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Tlaib, however, was not referring to the Nazi-led genocide that killed six million Jews when she uttered the words "calming feeling".

On the contrary, she denounced the Holocaust as "horrific" and called it a "tragedy".

Here is the full transcript of Tlaib's remarks:

"There's a 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, their human dignity, their existence, in many ways, had been wiped out.

"I mean, 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."

Pressure on Democrats

In recent months, Republicans repeatedly have sought to sow divisions within the Democratic Party by targeting the words of freshman lawmakers - and Muslim congresswomen in particular - for criticism.

In this case, Cheney was one of the first GOP lawmakers to condemn Tlaib, calling on Sunday for Democratic leaders in the House to "take action against vile anti-Semitism in their ranks".

"This must cross the line, even for them. Rashida Tlaib says thinking of the Holocaust provides her a 'calming feeling,'" she wrote on Twitter.

But the opposite happened, and top Democrats, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a staunch supporter of Israel, came to Tlaib's defence.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also issued a forceful rejection of what she called Republicans' "desperate attempts to smear" Tlaib and misrepresent her comments. She also called on Trump to personally apologise to the congresswoman.

Still, Cheney has refused to budge.

'This is yet another attempt by the administration and the GOP to try to distract from their horrible policies, lawless acts, and actual anti-Semitic rhetoric'

- Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib

In fact, instead of correcting her original tweet, she sent out an even more incendiary and deceptive post early on Monday, quoting only a few words of Tlaib's statement to twist what she said even further.

For her part, Tlaib condemned anti-Semitism in a statement on Monday, while also accusing "right-wing extremists" and Republican leaders of miconstruing her words to "spread falsehoods rooted in hate".

"This is yet another attempt by the administration and the GOP to try to distract from their horrible policies, lawless acts, and actual anti-Semitic rhetoric," she said.

In an appearance on NBC talk show Late Night with Seth Meyers on Monday night, Tlaib further explained that her comment was about the creation of the state of Israel and the plight of Palestinians, not the Holocaust.

She also cited the advice of a friend to simplify her language in the future, so that "racist idiots" would understand her better going forward.

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