Many were shocked when US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib said she “loves the fact” that her “Palestinian ancestors” were part an attempt “to create a safe haven for Jews” after the Holocaust [Recording of her interview – Holocaust remarks at 28:00].
Where did she pick up such a false record of history? She is probably influenced by a myth which is widely disseminated by pro-Palestinian propagandists on social media.
Here’s an example:
“When the Jews entered in #Palestine as Refugees with no clothes and no shoes. Today they claim Palestine belongs to them. Fact: Jews were kicked out of every country in Europe and Palestine was the only country to help and support helpless Jews”
BDS propagandists love spreading the false story that goes along these lines: “Palestinian Arabs welcomed Jewish World War II refugees into their land while the rest of the world shunned them. But those Jews took advantage of their hospitality and took over Palestine.”.
This is a popular theme in Arab, Muslim and BDS circles, is being shared thousands of times on social media, and seems to be influencing members of the US Congress so it deserves debunking.
- It’s not their land. Before 1918, the land was part of the Turkish Ottoman empire. Jews and Arabs lived there. Arabs were not sovereign.
- Palestine wasn’t a sovereign country. It was a British Mandate set up by the League of Nations for the purpose of constituting a Jewish National Home.
- The legally-binding Mandate of Palestine (Article 6) required the British Administration to facilitate Jewish immigration. Jews had (and still have) a legal right to immigrate to Palestine, no-one was doing them a favor.
Palestinian Arabs didn’t welcome Jewish refugees. In fact, they violently opposed Jewish immigration. During the 1936–1939 Arab revolt, Palestinian Arabs in Mandatory Palestine rebelled against the British administration of the Palestine Mandate, demanding the end of Jewish immigration. The revolt included a wave of terrorism in which 300 Jews were murdered as well as 260 members of the British Security Forces.
- As a result of Arab violence, the British government published the White Paper of 1939, a policy which severely restricted Jewish immigration to 75,000 for 5 years, compared to 164,000 Jewish immigrants arrived in Palestine in the 4 years between 1933 and 1936. This meant that during World War II, which erupted just 4 months after the White Paper was published, only a small fraction of the Jews trying to escape from Europe were able to legally immigrate to Palestine. Millions were forced to remain in Europe and were later murdered by the Nazis.
- The Jews resorted to limited clandestine immigration (Aliyah Bet) and were often stopped by the British on the way to Palestine. The British held tens of thousands of Jews in detention camps in Cyprus and other locations. Over 1,600 drowned at sea.
- The main Palestinian Arab leader of the period, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem – Haj Amin al-Husseini, who was a close ally of Hitler. The Mufti opposed all immigration of Jews into Palestine, and during the war he campaigned against the transfer of Jewish refugees to Palestine. The Mufti’s numerous letters appealing to various governmental authorities to prevent Jewish refugees from emigrating to Palestine have been republished and widely cited as documentary evidence of his participative support for the Nazi genocide.
- Husseini intervened on 13 May 1943 with the German Foreign Office and successfully blocked transfers of Jews from Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania to Palestine.
- In June 1943 the Mufti recommended to the Hungarian minister that it would be better to send Jews in Hungary to concentration camps in Poland rather than let them find asylum in Palestine.
- In September 1943, intense negotiations to rescue 500 Jewish children from the Arbe concentration camp collapsed due to the objection of al-Husseini who blocked the children’s departure to Turkey because they would end up in Palestine.
- On 25 July 1944 Husseini wrote to the Hungarian foreign minister to register his objection to the release of certificates for 900 Jewish children and 100 adults for transfer to Palestine and recommended sending them to Poland instead.
Propaganda full of falsehood that distorts history is dangerous, especially on social media.
It spreads very quickly and apparently influences decision makers, like Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib.
It’s our duty to correct and debunk these lies.