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Republican who compared Palestinian civilians to Nazis faces censure vote

Republican who compared Palestinian civilians to Nazis faces censure vote

A Democratic congresswoman on Monday moved to censure Rep Brian Mast, after the Florida Republican said there are “very few innocent Palestinian citizens” and equated them to Nazis.

“Innocent civilians shouldn’t be punished for the actions of their governments – and they’re certainly not responsible for the actions of terrorists. That applies to Palestinians in Gaza and civilians around the world,” Rep Sarah Jacobs, who is Jewish, said in a statement introducing the censure motion.

“Rep Brian Mast’s comments are incredibly dangerous and dehumanizing as we continue to push for humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in harm’s way in Gaza and as Islamophobic hate crimes rise,” she added.

The motion was in response to a series of comments from Mr Mast, who served in the Israeli Defense Forces as a volunteer, made about Palestinian civilians.

The resolution notes a 19 October remark during a House Foreign Affairs committee meeting, in which Mr Mast said Palestinian children are taught to support terrorism in elementary school.

It also highlights 1 November remarks the Florida Republican gave, in which he called doubt on the idea that there could be any civilians in Gaza at all.

“There are very few innocent Palestinian citizens,” Mr Mast said in a floor speech.

“I would encourage the other side to not so lightly throw around the idea of innocent Palestinian civilians, as frequently said,” he added. “I don’t think we would so lightly throw around the term ‘innocent Nazi civilians’ during World War II.”

More than 10,000 Palestinians have died since the beginning of the war, nearly half of whom were children.

In comments to reporters on Monday after the resolution was introduced, Mr Mast called the motion “idiotic.”

“Rep Mast is right, and Rep Jacobs is in denial,” his press secretary later told Florida Politics. “He looks forward to having this debate.”

House leadership has until Wednesday to decide whether to table or vote on the censure resolution.

Mr Mast isn’t the only lawmaker attracting criticism for his remarks regarding the war.

Rep Rashida Tlaib, who is the Palestinian-American woman to serve in Congress, is facing two censure resolutions efforts over her comments criticising Israel.

“It is important to separate people and governments. No government is beyond criticism. The idea that criticizing the government of Israel is antisemitic sets a very dangerous precedent, and it’s been used to silence diverse voices speaking up for human rights across our nation,” she said in a Tuesday floor speech.

“I can’t believe I have to say this, but Palestinian people are not disposable,” she added.

A final vote on one of the motions, introduced by Georgia Republican Rich McCormick, is expected Wednesday.