A Republican lawmaker has come under fire for comparing “innocent Palestinian civilians” to Nazis.
Rep Brian Mast of Florida made the inflammatory comment in the House as he tried to slow down humanitarian aid to Gaza with a bill that would impose sanctions on foreign support from militant groups like Hamas.
“I think when we look at this, as a whole, I would encourage the other side to not so lightly throw around the idea of innocent Palestinian civilians, as is frequently said,” Mr Mast said.
“I don’t think we would so lightly throw around the term ‘innocent Nazi civilians’ during World War II.”
More than 8,000 Palestinians, including at least 3,600 children, are believed to have been killed in the enclave since Israel launched retaliatory strikes earlier this month.
Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 people in Israel and took hundreds of hostages in the bloody attacks launched from Gaza on 7 October.
Mast: I think when we look at this, as a whole, I would encourage the other side to not so lightly throw around the idea of innocent Palestinian civilians. I don't think we would so lightly throw around the term innocent Nazi civilians pic.twitter.com/OqDpJHZiHV— Acyn (@Acyn) November 1, 2023
Mr Mast’s comments received a quick backlash from Democrats and civil rights groups.
“Racist and bigoted comments like this are why 6-year-old Palestinian-American Wadea Al Fayoume was murdered by being stabbed 26 times. Disgusting and disgraceful,” tweeted Rep Maxwell Frost, a Democrat from Florida.
Brian Shatz, the US Senator from Hawaii, said: “This is an incredible reckless, racist thing to say. No one should talk like this.”
MSNBC host Medhi Hasan slammed the politician for his comments.
“There are dead bodies, including dead kids’ bodies, still being pulled out of the rubble of the Jabaliya refugee camp and this Republican congressman is suggesting there are no ‘innocent Palestinian civilians’ and comparing ordinary Gazans to Nazis. For shame,” he tweeted.
His denouncement was joined by criticism from IfNotNow, a Jewish American group that wants “to end US support for Israel’s apartheid system.”
The group tweeted that Mr Mast’s comments were a “dangerous, wrong and a craven attempt to justify more bombings & more killings.”
“Every member of Congress should be condemning this vile rhetoric & taking action,” the group stated. “Demanding a ceasefire has never been more urgent.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies