House

Sanders defends Tlaib from Trump: ‘Stop dividing the American people up by their religion’

Stefani Reynolds

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday defended freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) after President Trump accused her of anti-Semitism.

Sanders became the first 2020 contender to weigh in on the GOP attacks against Tlaib as top House Democrats accused Trump and Republicans of distorting her words.
 
“Mr. President: Stop dividing the American people up by their religion, their race or their country of origin–and stop your ugly attacks against Muslim women in Congress. You are taking Rep. @RashidaTlaib’s comments out of context and should apologize,” Sanders tweeted.{mosads}
 
The controversy began after Tlaib, one of two Muslim women in Congress, told Yahoo News’s “Skullduggery” podcast that she gets a “calming feeling” knowing that her Palestinian ancestors lost their land so that Jews could have a safe place to live after the Holocaust.
 
“There’s always kind of a calming feeling, I 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, have been wiped out, and some people’s passports,” Tlaib said in the interview.
 
“And just all of it was 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,” Tlaib added. “And I love the fact that it was my ancestors that provided that, right, in many ways. But they did it in a way that took their human dignity away, and it was forced on them.”
 
An Israeli newspaper picked up the comments, which were then seized on by Republicans to criticize Tlaib.
 
Tlaib accused Republicans of engaging in Islamophobia to stoke misconceptions about what she actually said about Israel and the Holocaust.
 
“It’s more than just silencing a member of Congress. They are using my faith & ethnic background to promote their hate agenda that leads to more violence. The GOP has no policy agenda, and continues to enable a lawless President who doesn’t care about protecting our democracy,” Tlaib tweeted.
 
 
Tlaib also tweeted her thanks to Sanders, writing, “Individual-1 is a lawless President that will do anything to distract the American people from the fact he is hurting our country, our democracy and our future. We will fight against hate together, and be stronger for it.”
 
 
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) both rallied to Tlaib’s defense and called on Republicans to apologize.
 
“Republicans’ desperate attempts to smear @RepRashida & misrepresent her comments are outrageous. President @realDonaldTrump & House GOP should apologize to Rep. Tlaib & the American people for their gross misrepresentations,” Pelosi wrote in a tweet.
 
 
“If you read Rep. @RashidaTlaib’s comments, it is clear that President Trump and Congressional Republicans are taking them out of context,” Hoyer tweeted. “They must stop, and they owe her an apology.”
 
 
Earlier Monday, Trump called Tlaib’s comments “horrible and highly insensitive.” 
 
“Democrat Rep. Tlaib is being slammed for her horrible and highly insensitive statement on the Holocaust,” Trump tweeted. “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?”
 
 
House Republicans have sought to highlight Democratic divisions on Israel, particularly since Tlaib and freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the only other Muslim woman in Congress, took office this year.
 
Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the third-ranking House Republican, doubled down after Hoyer called for an apology.
 
“I am deeply sorry for our nation that the House Democratic leadership continues to enable the anti-Semitism in their ranks,” Cheney tweeted in response to Hoyer.
 
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) also characterized Tlaib’s remarks as anti-Semitic, saying in a statement that “there is no justification for the twisted and disgusting comments made by Rashida Tlaib just days after the annual Day of Holocaust Remembrance. More than six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust; there is nothing ‘calming’ about that fact.”
 
Omar, who has contended with her own accusations of anti-Semitism, echoed Tlaib in accusing Republicans of stoking anti-Muslim sentiment.
 
“This is another transparent attempt to sow division b/t minority communities and distract from your own criminal behavior by smearing a Muslim woman,” Omar tweeted Monday in response to Trump. “No one should fall for it this time.”
Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Ilhan Omar Liz Cheney Nancy Pelosi Rashida Tlaib Steny Hoyer Steve Scalise
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