Newt Gingrich Calls Palestinians An “Invented People”
Once again, Newt Gingrich speaks without thinking.
Speaking in an interview on a Jewish cable network yesterday, Newt Gingrich essentially said that the Palestinians do not have a legitimate claim to nationhood:
Does Newt Gingrich believe in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Democratic and Republican administrations have adopted that framework, but Mr. Gingrich raised the possibility he might break with it, calling Palestinians an “invented” people and the current stalled peace process “delusional.”
His comments were made this week in an interview with the Jewish Channel, a cable service.
Discussing the origin of the State of Israel in the 1940s, Mr. Gingrich said, according to a transcript: “Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places.”
As a historical matter, of course, this is largely accurate, but it also happens to be largely irrelevant. The Ottoman Empire, for one thing, hasn’t existed since 1918 and the land on which Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan now exist was, until 1947, controlled by the United Kingdom under a mandate from the League of Nations the purpose of which was to administer the lands in the Middle East that the Ottoman Empire had controlled for some 400 years. Other areas of the Middle East governed, at least for a time, under League mandates included present-day Iraq (Mesopotamia) and Syria. Does Gingrich then purport to assert that there is no Iraqi, Syrian, or Jordanian national identity either? After all, none of these nations existed prior to the creation of the League mandates, and all were under the boot of the Ottoman for the better part of half a millennium. Yet each of these are nations that we recognize the territorial integrity of and, contra Gingrich, they are in fact a national people despite the fact that their nations are relatively new.
Of course, as Daniel Larison points out, Gingrich isn’t just making the odd historical point here. He’s saying something far more sinister:
We should all understand that Gingrich isn’t referring to an “invented people” here in the way that historians sometimes talk about nations as “imagined communities” or constructed identities. He is singling out the Palestinians. He is plainly saying that Palestinians have no national existence, and therefore no claim to national self-determination. This claim would have been ridiculous fifty years ago, and today it is the statement of an ideological fanatic. Lumping together Palestinians with all other Arabs and referring to “the Arab community” as if it were one thing is typical of Gingrich’s sloppy and shoddy thinking.
The particular circumstances and experiences of an individual nation that accounts for the differences between nations that may share a language or culture, and if Gingrich were half as serious as an historian as he pretends to be he would understand that. If an identifiable Palestinian nation did not exist, say, 150 years ago, it has existed for the better part of the last century. National identities are formed through historical experience, and the last seventy or eighty years have witnessed the emergence of a distinctive Palestinian national identity.
Precisely. Gingrich calling the Palestinians an invented people has as little merit as if a British politician had said in 1811 that Americans were not a real nation. Indeed, that attitude was quite common among British elites in the early decades of the 19th Century and one that helped create the air of conflict that led to the War of 1812. Whether the British believed it or not, though, Americans had formed a national identity in war and were in the process of becoming a people. The same, I would submit, applies to the Palestinians. One can certainly deplore, and should condemn, the acts of terrorism committed in the name of Palestinian independence, but the use of a tactic does not define an entire nation, and the idea that the answer to the Israeli-Palestinian problem is to deny that there are a Palestinian people strikes me as guranteed to just lead to more terrorism.
Moreover, as one commentator points out, Gingrich’s comments call into question his own claimed credentials as a historian:
Gingrich’s comments will likely infuriate backers of Palestinian statehood on both sides of the debate, and drew immediate criticism from a fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, Hussein Ibish.
“For a man who likes to call himself a historian, Gingrich’s grasp of these realities is astoundingly weak. To call the Palestinians ‘an invented people’ in an obvious effort to undermine their national identity is outrageous, especially since there was no such thing as an ‘Israeli’ before 1948,” he said. “Arab and Jewish identities are very old, but Israeli and Palestinian nationalisms are both 20th-century phenomena, and arose at the same time in competition with each other. The idea that either is more ‘invented’ and hence less ‘authentic’ than the other is ignorant, ahistorical claptrap.”
Perhaps in recognition of the utter absurdity of Gingrich’s statement, his campaign has already walked it back in a statement released this morning:
“Gingrich supports a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which will necessarily include agreement between Israel and the Palestinians over the borders of a Palestinian state,” Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond said. “However, to understand what is being proposed and negotiated you have to understand decades of complex history – which is exactly what Gingrich was referencing during the recent interview with Jewish TV. “
Of course, this is what you get from Gingrich so very often. He talks off the top of his head without really thinking about the consequences and then ends up walking it back. That’s eccentric when it’s coming from a professor or a political pundit, perhaps, but it’s downright irresponsible when coming from a candidate for President, and it would be potentially dangerous in a President of the United States. Imagine the consequences had a President Gingrich made a comment like this. Give Newt a radio show somewhere where he can spout off about all kinds of random topics that interest him — like say his idea to build bases on the Moon or put giant mirrors in space — but putting this guy in the Oval Office would be positively idiotic.
” Arab and Jewish identities are very old, but Israeli and Palestinian nationalisms are both 20th-century phenomena”
This is total horseshit.
Sometimes, I wonder if there’s any limit to stupidity.
Palestine was a Roman province.
“Delusional” is one of his favorite words, isn’t it?
Who cares what Gingrich believes about the Palestinians? Gingrich has zero influence on foreign policy and has no chance of having influence in the future.
Instead of making another lazy post nitpicking an irrelevant politican, why not review what all of the candidates said about Palestinians versus the current policy of the Obama Administration versus what the Palestinians want? I guess nitpicking irrelevant idiots is more fun.
@Jay: Jay will represent the idiot brigade today.
What’s the point? So are French, German, and Italian.
The point, quite obviously, is to attempt to delegitimize the Palestinian cause by denying that they are a distinct people. Comments like Newt’s aren’t uncommon from certain segments of the right and are usually followed by the (false) assertion that Jordan was intended to be the “Palestinian” home land and that the refugees from the land conquered by Israel should go live there. The fact that neither the Palestinians nor the Jordanians want this to happen doesn’t seem to matter to them
Yah, I was going to mention that “Americans” are an invented people as well…..
I think it’s fair to say that there are no “non-invented people,” it’s just that some have been around longer than others.
Actually, I believe the problem here is he was speaking as a historian. The problematic part is the last sentence. “And they had a chance to go many places.” That implies that the division in 1948, providing for an autonomous Palestinian state for the Arabs who had historically resided in the Palestine area didn’t happen.
Now, that the Palestinians immediately chose war with Israel rather than establishing a legitimate state is problematic. They lost most of the territory assigned to them in wars of aggression. That happens and is a good reason not to start wars. Still, Israel has offered recognition of a state using the 1967 borders with negotiated adjustments, but the Palestinian leaders have rejected it even as they applied to the UN and manipulated Obama.
Here’s an explanation with pictures
It seems most of those complaining of this comment are afraid to have the history brought to the forefront but their complaints are libel to do just that.
@superdestroyer: An irrelevant politician who is atop or at least near the top of polling for the GOP nomination? Isn’t that kind of a non sequitur?
Look, I sure don’t want Mr Gingrich to be the GOP’s nominee, and I tend to believe he won’t be, but the status quo in the nomination process makes him about as far from irrelevant as possible right now.
HA HA HA hahahaheeeheeheheheeHAHAHAHA heheeeeheeee….. Damn, that was a good one JKB.
Newt speaking as a historian and not the pandering politician he is. That is almost as good as Newt being paid a million plus for his services as a historian by Freddie Mac.
@OzarkHillbilly: I think Jay’s point is that Palestinian and Israeli nationalism are, depending on how one wishes to define the terms, rather older than just the last century. (Certainly the idea of both Israel and Palestine, broadly defined date back millenia)
Now, if one narrows the question to the idea of the establishment of modern states in the contemporary era, then I suppose one could argue that both Palestinian and Israeli nationalism are relatively recent phenomena.
Thanks to WikiLeaks, we know that “negotiated adjustments” means Israel gets all of Jerusalem plus all of the arable land in the West Bank in exchange for giving the Palestinians strips of the Negev Desert.
Gingrich has no chance of being the next president. If the Republicans are stupid enough to nominate such an idiot, then Gingrich will lose to President Obama in a rout.
President Obama could be caught in bed if a ten y/o bed and still beat Gingrich.
Since Gingrich has no more chance of being president than any Libertarian or Communist Party candidate, then everyone should be as much consideration of what Gingrich says as they give to what any Libertarian or Communist Party candidate says.
Newt Gingrich is absolutely correct when he suggests the Palestinians are an invented people.
The fact of the matter is that the only reason the rest of the Islamic world.. and the world wide left with them, is pursuing the matter as they are is because it can be used to which against the great devil, the United States. The sad part is, we let them. Meanwhile, Romney is now on record as saying that Islam is not a violent faith. If anyone needed confirmation that Romney is disconnected from reality, they need it no longer. This is downright scary stuff coming from somebody who wants to occupy the White House. Gingrich has this correctly, and Romney is delusional.
Sorry, SD. You’re wrong.
Perhaps you’re forgetting the 1980 election. There were a number of the electorate, democrats included, who figured that anybody could do the job better than Jimmy Carter what did. And nearly right. Obama couldn’t. That minor point aside, that conclusion caused them to vote for Reagan as the “none of the above” candidate.
Remember also, that the GOP establishment of the day wasn’t too tremendously enthralled with Ronald Reagan, either. You may recall the 1976 primary? The 80 election blew away the CW that caused Reagan to lose the nomination and the GOP to lose the White House in 76.
The fact is, any one of the current republican candidates could not only win, but they will do a better job than Obama has. The central point there is that it’s not too high a bar to jump over. The question, however, is who will do the best of the jobs. With that as the measurement, Romney is definitely out. Beyond that, as far as I can see it’s an open field yet.
Funny that for all of the rumination of who on the left is a Marxist, it’s the straight-shooting Orwell-loving neoconservatives who hang their facts on ideological soundness rather than reality.
If the debunked From Time Immemorial pseudo-thesis were really true, what would that mean for Palestinians? That they aren’t living in occupied territory cut through by walls and guarded roads and settlements, in a state of militarized apartheid? That they appeared magically, out of nowhere, to jinx the plans of the good guys, and then, in a fit of cunning, adopted the guise of the oppressed and therefore suffering can be ignored, due to a penalty flag?
“If you squint with our spectacles on, nothing is really happening.”
And what were they before 1947? Here’s the facts:
Before 1948 it was – the British Empire
Before the British it was – the Ottoman Empire
Before Ottomans it was – fought over by Crusaders and Arabs
Before the Crusades it was – briefly held by Arabs
Before the Arab Jihad it was – The Byzantine Christian Empire
Before the Byzantines it was – the Roman Empire’s Provence of Israel
Before the Romans it was – Israel, province of Alexandrian Greek Empire.
Before Alexander it was – Israel, province of Persian empire
Before Persia it was – Israel, province of Babylonian empire
Before Babylon it was – Israel
The Land was given to Abraham, Grandfather of Jacob/Israel
Of course, we are to believe that the “Palestinian people” are victims of the west. In western liberalism there is no higher or more exalted position to be and then a victim. It’s all horse crap, of course.
The fact was and remains, There NEVER was a nation called Palestine.
The Land was given to Abraham, Grandfather of Jacob/Israel.
Now THAT is an empirical fact.
Newt was pandering to the Likudniks. It’s been the theme of the week for the candidates, after swearing to go to war with them at the Republican Jewish Coalition.
He stated there that the goal of military action with Iran must be regime change as well.
Newt’s mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives, but there is no vetting process between his mind and his mouth, and there be some loonies in barrels going over the falls now and again.
Primitive superstitions and raw racist hatred…the two pillars of Republican foreign policy.
@ponce: One can hardly look at the history of the area without an accounting of the cultural influences… and certainly, however you slice it, religion plays a part in every culture…….. your obvious prejudice against religion not withstanding.
I admit I look at religion as childish fairy tales for people who are afraid to die.
Here’s something for you, Eric.
Herodotus, the “Father of History,” writing in his book “History”, where the name of the field come from, around 450 B.C.:
After this they marched forward with the design of invading Egypt.
When they had reached Palestine, however, Psammetichus the Egyptian
king met them with gifts and prayers, and prevailed on them to advance
@ponce: Whatever you may feel about Judeo/Christian religion, if you’re going to refute a history book, you should probably resort to facts rather than evidence-free, emotional contempt.
That being said, Bit leaves out what may be inconvenient to his position: Abraham’s sons included Isaac (Jacob/Israel’s father), and Ishmael, who Muslims regard as their ancestor. Abraham sent Ishmael, his bastard child, away with his mother, but he was Abraham’s son nonetheless.
None of which, IMHO, has any relevance to the “legitimacy” of Middle Eastern nations in the 21st Century.
The fact was and remains, There NEVER was a nation called Palestine.
So what you’re saying is that people who did not have a country in the past are therefore disqualified from nationalism? Why can’t people like you simply have enough courage to state your obvious conviction which is that certain people have rights and others do not? You are on the web–are you really such a pathetic dupe that you can’t say what you mean here?
I find it odd that one of the strategies Israel is pursuing wrt its settlements is that once people live somewhere for a while, they gain legitimacy to the land on which they live.
Yet the Palestinians/Arabs/Whateveryoucallthem have in many cases lived on pieces of land in the West Bank for generations.
Call them whatever you wish, but don’t these people have a right to live there, and a government that represents their interests?
Update your Bible, Bit:
1 Samuel 4-5
2 Samuel 5
To paraphrase the old saying, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but you can’t make up your own facts to fit what you wish were true.
@Steven L. Taylor:
Steven, that is rather obvious and totally overlooks my point which is that it is a very generous interpretation of Newts motives. I prefer to call Newt for the slimy amphibian he really is. No, I take that back. Slimy amphibians at least serve a purpose.
The American far right wants to outsource our foreign policy to Tel Aviv. This is not news.
“None of which, IMHO, has any relevance to the “legitimacy” of Middle Eastern nations in the 21st Century. ”
A wise position to take, since I am left wondering what the Great Spirit who gave most of North America to the Sioux peoples would have to say about the chain of title to the so-called American nation.
There is absolutely no excuse for any human to point to an event in the Bible (or Quran), claim it as a fact, and then to use that fact as a justification for an action, without first doing some serious research.
So when do youm plan to give up what property you own?
Of course not. But their claim to Israel’s land is certainly discredited.
Um, the issue is Israelis stealing Palestinian land, Eric.
The “palastinians’ didn’t exist to hold onto that land, so your claim appears to be reversed.
Do try again.
If bit could not make up “facts”, he would most likely just cease to exist. Fiction is his whole world…
The one thing I can say is that many of the responses here reveal quite clearly the utter silliness of using a book written over a period between 6000-2000 years ago as a guide to modern international relations
Whose land is it?
Well, as you and I both agree, once people have been living on land for a few generations, they have claim to it.
The Whateveryoucallthem can document that very fact.
So, according to your logic, it belongs to them.
I just happen to think you are right.
@Doug Mataconis: Thank you for that Doug. If anyone that area is an invention it’s the Israelis that vast majority of whom are from Europe and could not pass the Biblical test for being part of the Tribe of Israel.
Then who did Jewish terrorists murder at Deir Yassin in 1948 , Eric?
@OzarkHillbilly: Yes, but then why were you calling Jay an idiot? If my point is “obvious” and, if my interpretation of Jay’s comment is part of said obviousness, I am utterly unclear on your point.
Well, now, gee, let’s ask the UN.
Both the claims to the land are historical and ancient in the extreme. You have, perhaps other documentation that can be applied?
And Anjin, do you have any actual fact to bring to the table, or is your converse to be limited as usual to insult and baseless innuendo?
“Before the Byzantines it was – the Roman Empire’s Provence of Israel
Before the Romans it was – Israel, province of Alexandrian Greek Empire.
Before Alexander it was – Israel, province of Persian empire
Before Persia it was – Israel, province of Babylonian empire
Before Babylon it was – Israel”
Except the Romans called the province Syria Palestina for most of the time they ruled it (and called it Judaea for the rest of the time).
And you left out the Hasmonean dynasty’s rule of Judea (including the Maccabees of the Hanukkah story and King Herod of biblical fame).
And the Seleucid empire, which formed from the division of Alexander the Great’s empire, called the province, also called the province Judea.
And both the Persians and Babylonians called it Yehud.
And before that it was the Kingdom of Judah
So you’re about as reliable on history as Gingrich.
Webmaster, please release my comment from moderation.
Eric, I don’t see what your point is. Was the West Bank and Gaza supposed to be some sort of international Twilight Zone? Not a country, not another nation’s territory, and above all, not belonging to the people who live there?
Or perhaps is the term “invented people” a distinction without a difference?
Even if Gingrich were right and Palestinians were just arabs, what is his point? Does he reject the legitimacy of any Arab nation?
Well, its a fact, proven here over and over again, that you are both an idiot and an ignoramus. Several others have already schooled you on this thread, and your own tedious variety of meglomania does not allow you to realize it.
At any rate, its no surprise to see you taking up the Gingrich mantle. He being ignorant and repulsive, with a vastly inflated opinion of his intelligence and knowledge. You are sort of a small fry version of him.
Or Mini Newt?
Why use an ancient book that is always proven true? and Doug 6000-2000 is more the time line then when it was written.
Well if people would use this book some of the knucklehead evolutionist atheist racists who like to call everyone else a racist because they can muster no good argument against them would know that there is only one race of human, that we are all related and that we are all brown….All of this shown as fact by science as told in the Bible.
As for Newt if I was him I would have went more along the lines of made up victims then a made up people…
lol, not that I agree with this but if it was true it would mean that most of you libs are working off of someone else’s or a group of someone else’s tedious variety of megalomania and not your own.If I was to employ your symptom in evaluation….
1-) Israel does not have European Colonization. Half of their Jewish population is composed by Sephardic Jews and 20% of that population comes from Russia. The point is that Israel is going to have progressively a population relating to very poor countries because Jews that came from there do not have better options. A Jew that can have a very comfortable life in the American Continent or in Europe is not going to want to live in Israel, a country eternally at war with it´s neighbors. In fact, if countries like Tunisia or Morocco manages to develop economically and to develop institutions I would not be surprised if some of these Sephardic Jews goes back home.
2-) The major problem here is that in fact the whole idea of “people” inside the provinces of the Old Ottoman Empire is not so clear, in part because these people were organized in Tribes, not in territories. There are the Christian groups(That as invented people should be settled anywhere, I imagine), but there are diverse Muslim groups that does not mix well, including examples like the Turks.
But there are lots of Palestinians living in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. They suffer discrimination, they are easily identifiable as such so, they aren´t the same thing as the rest of the population.
“In fact, if countries like Tunisia or Morocco manages to develop economically and to develop institutions I would not be surprised if some of these Sephardic Jews goes back home.”
Oh, yes, that “going back home” is horrible. I was trying to say going back to the home of their ancestors.
@Have A Nice G.A.:
“And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.” 1 Kings 7:23
If you note, the ratio of circumference to diameter here is 3. Since the Bible is always correct, do you think schools should be teaching that the value of Pi is exactly 3, rather than spreading the anti-christian lie that it is 3.14159265…..?
Rounding down is a sign of omnipotence.
Ofcourse Newt Gingrich is right. Not only many Israelis hold the same idea but Arab “Palestinians” themselves too. Listen to Azmi Bishara for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp1OS-20Bzc&feature=related .
Jordan should be the Palestinian state:
The Jews killed no one , eccept those who fight against them!
Stormy Dragon you dig deep:) If you want to talk about the big picture I ‘ll be your huckleberry, If you wish to show how no one here is even close to being a workmen approved by God, I witcha. If you want to talk about how stupid it is to keep bringing up the creation evolution debate and saying I saw a blue planet 600 million light years away with me telescope or some atheist changed his mind on how the universe came into existence so that settles it and when someone points out that’s crap for evidence they scream I hate black books, yup.. But not math I hate math…
I hate counting skeletons, fossils,distances, billions and billions and billions of years, light years, historical populations, times the Bible has been proven factual,Times the bible has been attacked here and has had rocks thrown at it, prophecies that have come true,how many times the theory of evolution has evolved, how many fabraction have been uncovered that used to support it, how much extra unnecessary racisms it has help to spawn, and how many babys it has helped to murder and toss into the garbage, it is up around a billion worldwide and I hate hate hate counting to a billion.
The Biblical “Plishtim”. “Pleshet” (as the Israelites called them) have nothing to do with them or today Arabs, Muslims or Semites. Those “Plishtim”, later called by the Roman occupiers “Palestinians” where Greek sea tribe, most probably coming from now-days Sardinia. The ceased to exist as a tribe / people and assimilated in the local nations at the end of the 1st kingdom of Judea.
Now days “Palestinians” took their name from the Latin-English name that the British called that land. As a matter of fact there is no “P” in Arabic at all! So how can real people call himself with a name that includes a non-existing letter in his name?
At the time of the British mandate on Palestine all locals were called “Palestinians”. There were Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs that were considered the citizens of the British mandate. That name has nothing in common with Arabs. The invented “Palestinian” people took that name only after the British left Palestine and the Jews were called Israelis.
True, but it makes a pretty good guide (or litmus test?) to which commenters are idiots.