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Rick Santorum: There Are No Palestinians, Everyone In The West Bank Is Israeli

Newt Gingrich raised eyebrows while he was rising in the polls in December when he made the bizarre, mostly irrelevant, comment that the Palestinians were “an invented people.” Rick Santorum, however, has gone one step further and declared that the Palestinians don’t exist at all:

“There are no Palestinians,” he told a questioner at a campaign event in Iowa. …..

“All the people who live in the West Bank are Israelis.  There are no Palestinians.  This is Israeli land,” the former Pennsylvania senator said.

“The West Bank is part of Israel,” which won it as “part of an aggressive attack by Jordan and others” in 1967.  Israel doesn’t have to give it back any more than the United States has to give New Mexico and Texas to Mexico, which were gotten “through a war,” he said.

The radical nature of Santorum’s statement cannot be understated. Even the current government of Israel has accepted the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestinian dispute, the only question is how the parties are going to be able to get to the negotiating table to make that a possibility. Only the most radical advocates of a so-called “Greater Israel” hold on to the idea that Israel should hold on to all the territory acquired by the 1967 war despite the rather obvious desire of the people who live their for independence.

In fact, one wonders why Santorum would advocate such a policy given his supposed support for the State of Israel. If the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza are in fact Israelis, then that means they have the right to vote. Given that the birth rate among this population is far higher than among Israel’s Jewish population, there would come a time where the Arab community in Israel would outnumber the Jewish population, and the idea of Israel as a “Jewish State” would cease to exist. The only way to stop that, of course, would be to deny the Arab community the right to participate in their own governance, but that’s merely a strategy designed to create resentment, rebellion, and terrorism.  The other side of the coin, of course, is that it is simply inappropriate for the United States to take a position on an issue like this. This is something that can only be decided by the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves.

If nothing else, this seems to indicate the extent to which Santorum’s foreign policy vision is influenced more by religious fervor that demands absolute loyalty to Israel than by acting in the interests of the United States.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rob in CT says:

    Dangerous stuff. For Israel, mostly. For us as well. But mostly Israel.

    I will say this: credit the sincerity.

    This sort of Greater Israel nonsense is actually at the heart of a good deal of “pro-Israel” politics, but most of the time people avoid actually owning it. Ricky does. Huzzah for free speech!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  2. Herb says:

    Yeah, he’s a kook. But he’s not Romney, so he gets his moment to shine. Blink and it will be over. Playoffs are coming up this weekend…

    There will be more people in any random stadium than there were Iowans supporting Santorum last night.*

    * With his impressive 8 vote margin, same goes for Romney…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  3. DRS says:

    Does it really qualify as a policy? More like a sound clip for the right audience…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Franklin says:

    religious fervor that demands absolute loyalty to Israel

    Kind of amusing, considering that good Christians like Rick presumably believe all Jews are going to hell anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  5. Peter says:

    Someone should tel him that the state of Israel, which unilaterally declared it’s existence 14 May 1948, IS NOT the Israel of the Bible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  6. Septimius says:

    Even the current government of Israel has accepted the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestinian dispute, the only question is how the parties are going to be able to get to the negotiating table to make that a possibility.

    Really? Since 1993, we’ve had the Oslo Accords, the Camp David Summit, The Taba Summit, The Road Map for Peace, and the Arab Peace Initiative. If only we could just get the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiating table again. I’m sure they could just work it all out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  7. I hardly think it displays “absolute loyalty to Israel” to promote policies that not only will invariably lead to its destruction as a Jewish, democratic state, but also are policies not endorsed by any modern Israeli government (including the current one). Santorum isn’t “loyal to Israel”, he’s loyal to an account of the region that ultimately doesn’t care whether Israel lives or dies so long as it goes down in a blaze of apocalyptic fury in conflict with the Muslims. From an Israeli perspective, I’d imagine that’d be seen as quite hostile, really.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3

  8. Tsar Nicholas says:

    There are no Palestinians, everyone in the West Bank is Israeli.

    By the laws of history and war that actually is a true statement.

    Here’s a useful exercise:

    1. Try to find a reference to “Jordan,” or to “Transjordan,” or to the “West Bank,” in any pre-Balfour text, paper or other writing.

    2. Try to find a reference to “Palestine” or to “Palestinians” in any pre-Balfour text, paper or other writing.

    3. What language do the “Palestinians” speak? Where is the capital of “Palestine?”

    4. Where were the Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria located vis-a-vis what’s now commonly referred to as the “West Bank?” Can a nation-state be deemed to have occupied its own territory?

    5. Separately, review the histories of annexations after wars with victors and vanquished. Would it make you feel better if Israel simply annexed the lands in question? Would the Arabs therein have any legitimate claim to voting rights or to other privileges of citizenship?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 7

  9. Ian G. says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    “Where were the Biblical lands of Judea and Samaria located vis-a-vis what’s now commonly referred to as the “West Bank?” Can a nation-state be deemed to have occupied its own territory?”

    “It’s own territory”? The State of Israel, which has existed since 1948, has no claim to these lands any more than the modern Italian Republic has any claims on land in France or Spain or Turkey that were once Roman provinces.

    “Would it make you feel better if Israel simply annexed the lands in question?”

    This is one possible course of action. Should it do so, of course, Israel would have to offer full citizenship to the populations annexed. The only other options would be to go the South Africa route (apartheid) or the Greater Serbia route (“ethnic cleansing”). I doubt many Israelis would be willing to follow in the steps of P.W. Botha or Radovan Karadzic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  10. Mike says:

    This explains Santorums fervent support of Iraq’s right to annex Kuwait in 1990.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  11. Rich (in name only) in Reno says:

    Israel may as well be our 51 state. They received $2.8 billion from the U.S. in aid in FY 2010, the last year for which figures are available, which is more money than was received by Maine, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Alaska or Vermont, all states ranked among the top ten recipients of federal aid.

    And the Republican Presidential aspirants have been so busy pandering to Israel of late that one has to wonder if the last man standing will pledge to hold his inauguration in Jerusalem.

    Oh wait, being crowned in Jerusalem is a sign that the Antichrist has arrived, isn’t it?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4

  12. DaMav says:

    Of course you may disagree with Santorum’s statements on the Palestinians but simply dismissing them out of hand demonstrates nothing more than ignorance. The “Palestinians” were Jordanians/Transjordanians and Egyptians until it became convenient to invent a new people to attack Israel. Yassir Arafat was an Egyptian. That you want to fall willingly for the popular fiction is your right but not to your credit.

    Santorum’s comparison to the US being forced to give California and Texas back to Mexico is dead on accurate. The Arabs attacked Israel. They lost the war. Since when do the victors have to “give back” lands taken in a defensive war?

    Maybe we should give George Mason and your house back to the Indians to make you feel better.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

  13. cryusacry says:

    Poor US politicians, they have to be more israelis than the israelis themselves to please the jewish lobby in Washington. They have to support Israel at the expense of US interests which they are supposed to serve

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  14. DaMav says:

    The American people overwhelming support Israel in poll after poll after poll. Apparently its a real mystery to some folks why American politicians reflect that. They have to invent conspiracy theories as to why politicians do what is popular with the voters!

    No, really, you can’t make this stuff up. :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3

  15. Ian G. says:

    @DaMav:

    Wait, if the Palestinians are “invented”, what are the Israelis? There was no state of Israel until 1948, and I doubt Ashkenazi Jews in Russia in 1900 felt much in the way of kinship with Mizrahi Jews from Iraq of that time period. Now, however, they do have a common Israeli identity….just as the Arabs of the West Bank have a common Palestinian identity. To dismiss either national identity because it’s new is patently absurd. One could take it even further and claim that an “American” identity is invented out of thin air, and “Americans” are really just Anglo-Saxons, Irish, Germans, West Africans, Mexica, etc. etc.

    And yes, you’re right, Israel doesn’t have to give the land up, but as I said before, if they don’t want to be a latter-day apartheid South Africa, such annexation will have to involve granting full citizenship to the people living there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

  16. milprof says:

    “Santorum’s comparison to the US being forced to give California and Texas back to Mexico is dead on accurate. The Arabs attacked Israel. They lost the war. Since when do the victors have to “give back” lands taken in a defensive war? ”

    True (*), but the Mexicans living in the Southwest were certainly granted U.S. citizenship, including voting rights, and in principle allowed to maintain ownership of their land. In practice voting rights and especially land rights weren’t always respected — as with Jim Crow elsewhere — but even in 1848 we clearly stood by the principle that if you took and kept the land, the people living there became your citizens with the same rights as any other of your citizens.

    (*) it’s far too simplistic to say that “Mexico started it”. The Polk Administration was doing everything they could to provoke Mexico. The area in which the first skirmish took place was disputed territory (not even everyone int he US agreed we had clear title to it). From Polk’s own writings there’s no question he wanted to take California by force if needed, and prior to the start of the war in ’46 he’d been prepositioning forces to do just that. The men in Taylor’s expedition on the Rio Grande certainly understood that they were being used to bait Mexico into a shooting war (and the hotheads in Mexico promptly obliged).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  17. lampadusa says:

    Try to find a reference to “Palestine” or to “Palestinians” in any pre-Balfour text, paper or other writing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_name_Palestine

    A little google can go a long way

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  18. MM says:

    @DaMav: But the American politicians support Israel more enthusiastically and more uncritically than the American people. Heck, more so than even many Israelis do. Not everyone is Israel is a member of the Likud party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. DaMav says:

    @Ian G
    I claim no expertise but the State of Israel was part of the region per numerous historic references including those in the Bible. It was not created from thin air in the 1940s. I have no means of assessing feelings of kinship among various groups in the Jewish diaspora in the 1900s and suspect you don’t either, and therefore do not accept your proposal as proven or even likely.

    Yes, one could claim “Americans” are not one identity — people do that all the time. Especially when it is used to refer to the USA and not the continents. Absolutely correct & therefore hardly a refutation regards the “Palestinians”.

    Regarding “Aparteid” — within the United States there are many who lived here before our borders became those of the 50 states. What happened? Some ended up on reservations but most assimilated. Few are interested in destroying the US and pushing everyone else into the sea (vs the mind set of the Palestinians). Maybe the Pales need to be encouraged in that direction of realistic assimilation. Would you favor returning say The Louisiana Purchase so we don’t need to do apartheid? Point is, we didn’t, we don’t have to, and nobody in their right mind would encourage Native Americans to begin rocketing Manhattan and demanding the rest of us leave.

    The Palestinians have lost wars over and over and over again. They have gotten many, mostly their own, killed. Their kids live in squalor and their institutions are on welfare. They can’t feed themself. It is morally reprehensible to encourage them to continue destroying themselves just because some people don’t like the idea of a Jewish state.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  20. Ian G. says:

    @DaMav:

    “I claim no expertise but the State of Israel was part of the region per numerous historic references including those in the Bible.”

    The State of Israel came into existence in 1948. Yes, there were ancient Jewish kingdoms as referenced in the Bible, but we could spend all day listing ancient civilizations that have come and gone on different pieces of land. It’s utter madness to decide to base 21st century international diplomacy on ancient religious texts.

    “It was not created from thin air in the 1940s.”

    Right, it was created from a former Ottoman Empire province, the inhabitants of which were mostly Arab. Many of their descendants now live in the West Bank without their own state or citizenship in the State of Israel.

    And it’s amazing the double-standard you’ve created to pretend the Palestinians don’t exist. The fact that nobody self-identified as Palestinians in 1917 makes no difference. They do now. As I said earlier, nobody self-identified as Israeli in 1917 either (or American in 1775) but they do now.

    “The Palestinians have lost wars over and over and over again. They have gotten many, mostly their own, killed. Their kids live in squalor and their institutions are on welfare. They can’t feed themself. It is morally reprehensible to encourage them to continue destroying themselves just because some people don’t like the idea of a Jewish state.”

    This is absurd. Who is encouraging them to destroy themselves? I (and I suspect most Israelis and Palestinians) want them to have their own independent state, which they do not have and which religious fanatics like Rick Santorum do not want them to have. I merely pointed out that if Israel were to annex the West Bank, they’d have to choose from one of three options: full citizenship for the Palestinians, apartheid, or expulsion/elimination. As someone who believes in universal human rights, the only option that isn’t utterly appalling to me is the first one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  21. An Interested Party says:

    The American people overwhelming support Israel in poll after poll after poll.

    There’s a difference between Israel and Likudnik policies…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  22. aron says:

    @DaMav: “Yassir Arafat was an Egyptian.”

    It just never ends, does it?

    Yassir Arafat was born in Cairo, Egypt, to Palestinian parents of long-established Palestinian family (from Gaza and Jerusalem respectively), and spent his childhood between Jerusalem (just next to the Western Wall, in a house now bulldozed by Israel) and Egypt, where his father had a business. He was always referred to by himself and others and in official documents as an Arab and a Palestinian (= from the then-mandate of Palestine), never self-identified as Egyptian, was never identified by anyone else as Egyptian, never held an Egyptian passport and never applied for one. He then spent his life from teens onwards fighting (sometimes in rather gruesome fashion) for the cause of Palestinian nationalism.

    He was considerably more “Palestinian” than, say, Benjamin Franklin or Alexander Hamilton were “Americans”.

    @DaMav: “Regarding “Aparteid” — within the United States there are many who lived here before our borders became those of the 50 states. What happened? Some ended up on reservations but most assimilated.”

    And, uh, you are aware of the slight difference in how the US and Israel defines national identity and applicability for citizenship? So how exactly do you propose that Palestinians should “assimilate” to Israel — by mass conversion to Judaism and then signing up for a nine-million strong Aaliyah?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  23. Nabalzbbfr says:

    Rick Santorum either misspoke or was misquoted. What he meant to say was that all LEGAL residents of the West Bank are Israelis.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  24. jakee308 says:

    Gee, all the “Palestinians” have to do to get the country they desire so much is to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

    But since they are essentially being directed by Iran through Hamas and Hezbollah, that won’t happen, will it?

    Repeatedly, the Palestinians have refused to simply recognize Israel’s right to exist. They won’t even LIE about the fact that they won’t. They’re PROUD of being terrorist killers that want a country and the sovereignty that it brings but refuse to recognize the sovereignty of Israel and accept the responsibilities of nations along with the rights.

    Must be a FUNDAMENTAL principal of their BELIEFS maybe?

    For whatever reason, no country would allow itself to be reduced in size with NO promise of being left alone.

    Nice try being so shocked at a simple and reasonable conclusion since the “West Bank” was always part of the original historical Jewish state of Israel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  25. B-Rob says:

    To start with, Santorum misspoke when he said the Arabs attacked Israel in 1967. In fact, the Israelis attacked the Arab countries. Not sure how a former US Senator can get something THAT wrong . . . it is akin to saying that the US attacked Japan at Pearl Harbor.

    Second, if he is of the opinion that everyone in the West Bank is now Israeli, then he needs to lay out his vision for a Greater Israel that includes a few million Arab Muslims. You cannot have it both ways — either the Palestinians get their own state, they are absorbed into Israel, or you have apartheid-like bantustans.

    So Santorum should be pressed to state which vision he has for Israel and how he will pursue that as president. My guess — as the lead character on the Fox show “Roc” used to say, Santorum will say “Well, I ain’t quite got that part figured out yet.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  26. ZVI says:

    @cryusacry: Helping Israwel IS US Interest

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Septimius says:

    @b-rob: That’s not exactly accurate. Yes, Israel did launch the first airstrikes, but Egypt, Jordan, and Syria had massed troops on Israel’s border and were about to invade. That, in itself, could be considered an aggressive act prompting a military response from Israel.

    I absolutely agree with you that Santorum should needs to clarify whether or not he favors a two-state solution or really believes that Israel should annex the West Bank and make it part of Israel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0