Newt Gingrich has been taking heat for a statement he made about the “Palestinians” being an “invented” people.
“We have had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs,” Gingrich said in an interview with The Jewish Channel, a cable-television network. “Remember, there was no Palestine as a state – (it was) part of the Ottoman Empire. I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs and historically part of the Arab community and they had the chance to go many places.”
Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum both took Gingrich to task for his remarks, with Romney suggesting Gingrich should have talked to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before making such a provocative statement.
Actually, no such conference call should be necessary.
Long ago, I wrote about the indisputable historic reality raised by Gingrich, and Netanyahu liked it so much, he posted it on his website with approving comments where it remains to this day.
Newt is absolutely right about this. I’m not surprised Romney got weak in the knees over it, but Santorum’s reaction is somewhat surprising.
Speaking the truth should never be a problem. Most of our trouble in the Middle East has been created because policies are being guided by myths rather than facts.
I wrote that column about the “Myths of the Middle East” about 11 years ago and updated it earlier this year. Personally, I’m glad at least one prominent U.S. politician has taken these words to heart.
Here’s what Gingrich was talking about.
Prior to the 1948 rebirth of Israel, when you used the word “Palestinians,” you were referring to Jews, not Arabs. The Jews living in “Palestine,” then under the control of the British, called themselves “Palestinians.” The Jewish newspaper now called the Jerusalem Post was then called the “Palestine Post.” Arabs never referred to themselves as “Palestinians.” They would have shuddered at the idea of being confused with Jews who had proudly adopted that term since the turn of the century when the land was under the control of the Ottoman Empire.
That didn’t change substantially until after the 1967 Six-Day War when Israel captured Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Gaza Strip from Egypt. Within a few years, Yasser Arafat, an Egyptian, launched his unconventional terrorist war against Israel literally “inventing,” as Gingrich suggested, a new national identity of Arab “Palestinians.”
Keep in mind, those territories were not captured from a nation called “Palestine,” which has never existed as an independent nation in the history of the world. They were captured from existing Arab nations – Jordan and Egypt.
As I first wrote 11 years ago, “The truth is that Palestine is no more real than Never-Never Land. The first time the name was used was in 70 A.D. when the Romans committed genocide against the Jews, smashed the Temple and declared the land of Israel would be no more. From then on, the Romans promised, it would be known as Palestine.
“The name was derived from the Philistines, a people conquered by the Jews centuries earlier. It was a way for the Romans to add insult to injury. They also tried to change the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, but that had even less staying power.
“Palestine has never existed – before or since – as an autonomous entity. It was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after World War I. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their homeland.
“There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians. Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, etc.
“Keep in mind that the Arabs control 99.9 percent of the Middle East lands. Israel represents one-tenth of 1 percent of the landmass. But that’s too much for the Arabs. They want it all. And that is ultimately what the fighting in Israel is about today. Greed. Pride. Envy. Covetousness. No matter how many land concessions the Israelis make, it will never be enough.”
Keep in mind, I write this as an Arab-American. But I’m hardly the only Arab who recognizes these facts.
Let me quote an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Zahir Muhsein, who said in an interview with the Dutch newspaper Dagblad de Verdieping Trouw on March 31, 1977: “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people. Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem.”
That’s been the case from the beginning. The “Palestinian” ruse began as a means of asymmetrical warfare against Israel, and the Arab propaganda barrage has been wildly successful.
It’s about time a prominent U.S. presidential candidate has tried to set the record straight. The shocker is that not every Republican candidate agrees with his clear statement of the disturbing facts.