On Gingrich, The Palestinians, And “Invented People”

Newt Gingrich's comments about Palestinian nationhood came up during last night's debate.

As I noted yesterday, Newt Gingrich raised a few eyebrows Friday night when he stated in an interview with a Jewish cable network that the Palestinians were an “invented people.” The issue came up again last night in the ABC News Debate, and Gingrich doubled down on his comments even in the face of criticism from other candidates:

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In a fact-check on the debate, ABC News asserted that Gingrich was wrong:

While  former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said in 1969 that “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people,” it is not exactly a factual statement.

Scholars assert that a Palestinian national identity began to solidify in the 1890s when Arabs in the region now known as Palestine revolted against the Ottoman Empire. While the revolt was eventually crushed, the clans that banned together later reemerged as a relatively unified Palestinian people.

Barry Rubin aserts that ABC gets it wrong, but that it really doesn’t matter  if Gingrich is right or not:

ABC says that the Palestinian Arabs began to have a consciousness in the 1890s. I cannot imagine what evidence would be brought to make that argument. The bare beginnings were around 1920 when actual groups began to form, though even then the “southern Syria” identity was strong. One is safer at putting the date in the late 1920s.

Yet again I don’t see this point as very significant. What’s important is whether a large portion of the people in question believes that they are a people. Moreover, the same “invented” charge has been made against the Jewish people, of course, by Stalin and of course by Arab and Islamist propaganda.

The fact that today, a Palestinian people does exist doesn’t give the Palestinians a right to invent history, of course. ABC News didn’t point out that they regularly claim a history of two thousand years or more. And Golda Meir was pointing to the fact that the dominant politics of the Palestinian movement certainly as late as 1945 was a pan-Arab nationalist one. If the “invention” of a Palestinian (Arab, Muslim) people is relatively recent, though, that does imply that they don’t have a claim to everything between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean Sea. And that’s what’s important.

Jonathan Tobin makes much the same point:

That said, it must be conceded that even if the Palestinians did invent themselves in the last 100 years, it is pointless to deny that they do exist now. Millions consider themselves to be part of a distinct Palestinian people with a common history and destiny. The United States and Israel both understand that their desire for self-rule must be accommodated so long as it does not infringe on the rights and security of Israel. A two-state solution that would allow a state of Palestine to exist alongside Israel is now believed by most Israelis to be a commonsensical idea even if it would involve painful territorial compromises.

Tobin and Rubin are, essentially, making the same point I did yesterday. Whether or not it is historically accurate to say that there was no such thing as the idea of a Palestinian nation prior to the early 20th Century is largely irrelevant. What matters is what the facts on the ground are right now, and right now there are some 4 million people in the West Bank and on the Gaza Strip who consider themselves part of a Palestinian nation. Ignoring that reality is impossible, and engaging in historical diversions about the Ottoman Empire, the Caliphite that preceded it, or the Roman Empire that once ruled Palestine is really quite pointless.

More importantly, though, it also happens to be potentially dangerous:

JERUSALEM (AP) – A slew of Palestinian officials reacted with dismay Saturday to Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich’s statement that the Palestinians are an “invented” people.

(…)

The Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, demanded Gingrich “review history.”

“From the beginning, our people have been determined to stay on their land,” Fayyad said in comments carried by the Palestinian news agency Wafa. “This, certainly, is denying historical truths.”

(…)

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi said Gingrich had “lost touch with reality.” She said his statements were “a cheap way to win (the) pro-Israel vote.”

A spokesman for the militant Hamas rulers of the Palestinian Gaza Strip called Gingrich’s statements “shameful and disgraceful.”

“These statements … show genuine hostility toward Palestinians,” said spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

As I said yesterday, imagine if Gingrich had made these statements as President. The outrage would have been amplified a thousand fold, and any hope that the United States would be able to serve any useful purpose in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would be out the window for the foreseeable future (not that I think there’s much the United States can do if the parties don’t want to act themselves anyway). This is the kind of recklessness that I’ve referred to in connection with Gingrich in the past, and it does not bode well for his skill as a diplomat on the world stage, not that I think he’ll ever get a chance to actually stand on the stage of course.

Perhaps the most galling part of  Gingrich’s response on this question last night was his comparison of himself to Ronald Reagan. In this context, it was the assertion that, like Ronald Reagan when he called the Soviet Union “the focus of evil in the modern world” in a 1983 speech famously remembered as the “Evil Empire Speech,” he is willing to speak the truth about the Palestinians. The problem with Gingrich’s assertion here is manifold. First of all, to borrow a line from Lloyd Bentsen, Newt Gingrich is no Ronald Reagan. Where Reagan was principled but willing to compromise, optimistic, and focused, Gingrich is willing to change principles but disdains compromise, projects a worldview that is far from optimistic, and is anything but focused. Second, at the same time that he was making that speech, Reagan was already trying to find a way to open more direct communications with the Soviet leadership about arms control and related issues but, as Reagan once said about the Soviet leadership of his day, “they keep dying on me.”  Gingrich, by contrast, clearly has no intention of negotiating with the Palestinians. Instead, he seems to be among those Republicans for whom the only acceptable position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the hard-line Likunik position, which grants almost no legitimacy to the Palestinians and their aspirations. Finally, it’s worth noting that in 1983 the USSR was the United States’s adversary, arguably the most serious one we had ever faced in our history. The Palestinians are not our enemy, and taking positions that turn them into one are not in our interests.

Rubin and Tobin get it exactly right. What we want the world to be like is largely irrelevant, as is the question of whether or not there was a Palestinian national identity 500 years ago before Ottoman rule. We must, as Rick Moran puts it in his own post on this issue “deal with the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.” Along with other conservatives for whom policy in the Middle East seems to be more religious crusade than rational foreign policy, Newt Gingrich does not appear to want to accept that.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2012, Middle East, US Politics, World Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. ponce says:

    Haha, Newt is even making the fringe right Israeli religious fanatics uncomfortable with his idiocy.

    But he’s a perfect Goldilocks amount of crazy for the Republican voters.

  2. Hey Norm says:

    And he’s the smartest guy in the GOP.
    Makes you wonder, don’t it???

  3. AbeBird says:

    Ofcourse Newt Gingrich is right. Not only many Israelis hold the same idea but Arab “Palestinians” themselves. Listen to Azmi Bishara for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp1OS-20Bzc&feature=related .

  4. AbeBird says:

    Jordan ishould be the Palestinian state:

    http://www.cdn-friends-icej.ca/isreport/janfeb04/jordan.html

  5. ponce says:

    There’s a similarity between the wingnuts trying to deny the Palestinians their humanity and their ancestors who denied African Americans their humanity.

    The rhetoric is eerily similar.

    Not surprising considering where Gingrich’s base is.

  6. Eric Florack says:

    Fine. Lets deal with the world as it is. We have a band of thugs sworn to wiping out every last Jew. Yes, indeed, lets deal with the reality of the situation.

  7. de stijl says:

    Maybe Newt should review The Declaration Of Independence:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

  8. ponce says:

    Maybe Newt should review The Declaration Of Independence:

    Haha, Republicans don’t believe in equal rights for brown people.

  9. Argon says:

    Heh, as Jason Linkins wrote in today’s “Sunday Talking Heads” at HuffPo,, Americans are an invented people too.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    All peoples are “invented.”

    You have your homo sapiens. Then you’ve got a bunch of subsets of homo sapiens who define themselves by virtue of having come from this part of the world or that, by virtue of a few common ancestors, or a religion, or a skin color, or by various practices or a common language.

    Of course all these are time-sensitive. Homo sapiens has been wandering around for, let’s say, 100,000 years. We’ve had Jews for not quite 6,000 years, give or take. 6% of human history. So at best, Jews were “invented” after 94% of what we know of human history had played out, and Palestinians were “invented” after 99% of human history had played out.

    In that tiny fraction of human history the Jews have intermarried (happily or not) with every single “people” on planet earth. There are Jews who are black and Jews who are practically albinos. Tall, short, fat, thin, dark eyes, blue eyes. It is absurd to talk about any Mediterranean people as somehow unique and discrete — the Med is one big multi-millenium orgy.

    “Peoples” are myths. They are stories told for one purpose or another, but roll the timeline back even to the 10% point and all those “peoples” disappear. Let alone tracking them back to the beginning.

  11. Herb says:

    “imagine if Gingrich had made these statements as President. The outrage would have been amplified a thousand fold”

    Generating outrage is kinda the GOP’s thing these days, though…..

  12. Michael says:

    Fine. Lets deal with the world as it is. We have a band of thugs sworn to wiping out every last Jew. Yes, indeed, lets deal with the reality of the situation.

    You also have the other 90% of the people living in Palestine.

  13. de stijl says:

    @michael reynolds:

    And going back beyond 100,000 years, the only route out of Africa is through the Levantine corridor.

    Excluding Africans, all of us are Levantine.

  14. Maine's Michael says:

    The Palestinians may have a national consciousness, but let’s explore that consciousness a bit:

    ‘Palestinians’ have no identity other than as the instrument of Israel’s destruction. No history, no ancient kings, no ancient texts, songs, or dances. Their modern heroes are famous for murder. They name schools and squares after people who kidnap kids, take them to caves, and mash their heads to jelly, who break into homes and cut the necks of sleeping children and their parents, who blow up Passover Seders killing old men, women, and children, who shoot pregnant women and kids point blank. The most famous Palestinian is a murderous deviant who died of God knows what, now buried in a concrete filled hole in Ramallah.

    What history they have is manufactured, a usurpation, no, outright theft, of Jewish history, aided and abetted by Koranic interpretations. Kings David and Solomon, and even Jesus, were not Jews, but Palestinians, in their view; Jerusalem is not an ancient Jewish city, but an Islamic city the Jews are trying to usurpate with their phony Jewish history, to illegally ‘Judaize’.

    They are a weaponized people. Whether it be terrorism or delegitimization, they are the most effective weapon the Islamic world has ever fielded against Israel.

    To recognize these facts for them would be to recognize the bankruptcy of their entire existence as a people. It would require them, further , to repudiate major Islamic tenets. To give up the hatred that sustains them and gives their lives value beyond the mean existence the Arab world has forced upon them.

    Just because they have a national consciousness does not lead to the need for a state. What about Kurds, Tibetans, and a hundred others more deserving. What about them?

    The focus on the palestinians is a manifestation of the world’s agenda vis a vis the Jewish state.

    The way the Israeli -’Palestinian’ conflict is rigged, it’s a zero sum game.

    Any legitimacy the ‘Palestinians’ gain comes at Israel’s expense.

    The logic is simple – if Israel concedes something to the ‘Palestinian’s, that is proof of’ ‘Palestinian’ legitimacy. If the ‘Palestinians’ are legitimate, then Israel can’t be. Unfair, but there it is. When the world doesn’t like yo to begin with, that’s how it goes.

    The greatest bit of Judo ever seen was the Arab world’s turning the Arab Israeli conflict into the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Over night , David became Goliath, and the Arab Goliath disappeared, replaced with a ‘Palestinian’ David.

  15. Maine's Michael says:

    Zuheir Mohsen, a leader in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in an inverview, March 1977, with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, said the following:

    “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 for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct Palestinian people to oppose Zionism.”

    “For tactical reasons, 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. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

  16. anjin-san says:

    My sense is that concern from the American right about Jews is pretty much the same as all the “support the troops” talk. They are both useful props in a political charade…

  17. superdestroyer says:

    @ponce:

    The left is the group that has created quotas, set asides, race-based goals, and affirmative action.

    the left is the one who has been found by the Supreme Court that is had violated the rights of whites because progressives love to discriminate as long as whites are the ones being discriminated against: See every affirmative action case from Bakke to Ricci.

  18. Maine's Michael says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Uh, it’s culture, not biology.

    Not all cultures are created equally, and not all are deserving of a state.

    having said that, some that have states deserve them not, and others that have not states deserve them.

    The point is, we should acknowledge that whether or not we think the palestinians deserve a state depends on our political persuasions.

    For those whose political persuasions include concepts of right and wrong, the answer is clear.

  19. anjin-san says:

    Zuheir Mohsen, a leader in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), in an inverview

    I guess this means I can go can go back and look through old interviews with say, Spiro Agnew. Then I can cherry pick statements about America publish one on a blog. This then becomes the factual basis of what America is.

  20. lunaticllama says:

    time to pretend that impoverished brown people don’t exist anymore.

    any identity created in response to racial and ethnic subjugation must not exist, because only leftists believe that stealing land from brown people is wrong. remember brown people do not have the same rights as white people, and they most certainly do not have property rights.

    we created our country by stealing land from brown people; shouldn’t israel have the same opportunities for exploitation and theft?

  21. de stijl says:

    @Maine’s Michael:

    Not all cultures are created equally, and not all are deserving of a state.

    vs.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    I’ll take Thomas Jefferson over Maine’s Michael any day of the week.

  22. John Burgess says:

    @Maine’s Michael: You’re absolutely right!

    Palestinians, therefore, deserve their own state.

  23. Maine's Michael says:

    @lunaticllama:

    Have you been to Israel?

    A more multiracial country you will not find.

    IN the meantime, try and get a pass to go to Mecca if you are not Muslim

    For that matter, try and visit Tripoli of you are black.

    In any event, when are you giving up your home to the Sioux nation?

    First time I have visited this site.

    It seams everything is refracted in the prism of skin colors.

    Buh bye.

  24. Linked: ‘Newt Gingrich Attacked By Weasels’ (Jew-bashing weasels in particular).

  25. michael reynolds says:

    @Maine’s Michael:

    Uh, it’s culture, not biology.

    Uh, then the argument gets even more attenuated, since cultures come and go and mutate into entirely different things with such regularity, and with so much cross-pollination that the notion of separate and distinct over any extended period of time is nonsense.

    In any event, you’d cede the argument since a perfectly compelling case can be made for a Palestinian “culture.” In fact, you can make the argument for a billion different versions of “a culture” since there’s no agreed size, duration or criteria and since they are all inevitably, “made up.” You can draw a line around any two dozen people you meet and call them a culture.

    Sarah Silverman and Menachem Begin. Explain how they are both the same culture. Explain how Silverman isn’t part of the same culture as Chris Rock, but is somehow, part of the same culture as rabbi Menachem Schneerson.

  26. michael reynolds says:

    I think the idea that anyone “deserves” a state is basically nonsense. You get a state by taking it and holding it. We don’t have a state because we deserve it, we have it because we took it from the Native Americans and either seized it or bought it from the Spaniards, Mexicans, French and Russians who had themselves taken it from Native Americans.

    In terms of US policy the question with Palestine is whether a state makes the world a more stable, peaceful, profitable place, or not.

  27. anjin-san says:

    @ Donald Douglas

    Thats an interesting link you posted. I had no idea that Newt is such a stud muffin.

    As for you claim of anti-semitism – do us a favor and crawl back under your rock.

  28. @AbeBird:

    Jordan is an invented nation. It was carved out of the British Mandate that followed the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

  29. Herb says:

    @Maine’s Michael:

    “Not all cultures are created equally, and not all are deserving of a state.”

    Then we’re left with a conundrum: Who makes the call? Hassan Nasrallah? What if they make the wrong call?

  30. Sarah Silverman and Menachem Begin. Explain how they are both the same culture. Explain how Silverman isn’t part of the same culture as Chris Rock, but is somehow, part of the same culture as rabbi Menachem Schneerson.

    Cultures, ethnicities, and national identities overlap. I am a first-generation American. I am Jewish. My father was Dutch and my mother was French. They were both Jewish. They are both Holocaust survivors. My mother fled occupied France at the end of 1941 with her father and brother and came to New York City. My father served in the Dutch navy and came to the United States permanently at the end of World War II, finding that pretty much his entire extended family, including his mother, had been murdered by the Nazis.

    I have strong and REAL cultural and national identities that are Jewish, American, European in general and French and Dutch in particular. And you cannot tell me — or perhaps more accurately you do not have the right to tell me — that my Jewish national identity is not real; that my Dutch and French cultural and national identities are not real, that my American national identity is not real. You do not have the right to tell me my complex and overlapping layers of national and cultural and historic personal identities are not real, because I am me and you are not.

  31. ponce says:

    Have you been to Israel?

    A more multiracial country you will not find.

    Speaking of which, are Christians and Jews and Muslims allowed to intermarry in Israel yet?

    They weren’t last time I checked…

  32. anjin-san says:

    I have strong and REAL cultural and national identities that are Jewish, American

    As it has already been pointed out, America is an invented nation. Europeans waged wars of conquest, some of them genocidal, against the original owners, stole the land, and created a new nation out of it.

    The people who once owned this country had a real identity too.

  33. luanticllama says:

    @Maine’s Michael: Sorry that it disturbs you to mention the fact that Israel is stealing land from the Palestinians, and that Americans get rich stealing lands from indigenous peoples.

    My land would actually belong to the Iroquois / Five Nations people.

    Not sure why you suggest visiting the Maghreb, if you are of African descent.

    I’ve been to Israel. Queens County, New York is more racially/ethnically diverse.

  34. @anjin-san:

    No kidding. My point is that all national identities are “invented” and they are nevertheless real.

  35. Tano says:

    @Maine’s Michael:

    The point is, we should acknowledge that whether or not we think the palestinians deserve a state depends on our political persuasions.

    Well, my political persuasion is that I am an American. I believe that people who live in a certain place have a right to continue to live there, and not be subject to ethnic cleansing. I also believe that people have a right to be governed by a regime that they consent to – that is the core of any government’s legitimacy.

    Thus, the Palestinians have a right to their own government – a separate state, or to participate equally in any government that rules their land – the one state solution.

    If you have any fondness and/or commitment to American values, I don’t see how you can deny this. Either a free Palestine, or West Bank and Gaza residents fully enfranchised in a Greater Israel. Your choice.

    Actually, not your choice, but it is the essential choice that those involved will have to make.

  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    What you experience subjectively is one thing. I can’t deny your subjective experience.

    The question was not how you feel, but whether the notion of these various identities is an artifact, something invented. Remember that the discussion began with Gingrich’s assertion that the Palestinians are an “invented” people.

    They are, of course an invented people. So are the Jews, the French, the Dutch and we Americans. These are lines drawn around individuals, clumping them together using uncertain, ill-defined, often patently absurd criteria.

    The French, to take an easy example, are made up of more differing strands than you or I could track. Gauls, Franks, Normans, Greeks, Romans . . . and each of those groups is itself a mere catchall label for various different strands. The French culture has numerous contrasting elements. Surely no one will make the argument that a Breton and a Languedocien and a Parisian are culturally identical.

    These are lines drawn in the air — invented.

  37. mrbill says:

    Why was there was no “Palestinian” “outrage” when PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein said this in 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 for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism.

    For tactical reasons, 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. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.

  38. ponce says:

    Why was there was no “Palestinian” “outrage” when PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein said this in 1977

    Well, he was shot in the head a few months after he said it, so somebody must have been outraged by his pan-Arab stance.

  39. mattb says:

    @michael reynolds & @Kathy Kattenburg (among others)

    You have both demonstrated: (a) the fact that even though something is invented does not necessarily make it not real (intended double negative) and (b) the problems with anyone on the outside saying that X people does not exist because they are “invented.”

  40. mattb says:

    For the more conservative types getting hung up on the “invented” thing, please explain to me the reasons to deny Native American/First Nation tribes claims about reclaiming land seized from them.

    I have a hard time thinking of a less “imagined people” who have as strong a claim to historic lands that they had been forcefully removed from (the basis of the Jewish claim to Palestine).

  41. Michael says:

    Why was there was no “Palestinian” “outrage” when PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein said this in 1977

    Well, he was shot in the head a few months after he said it, so somebody must have been outraged by his pan-Arab stance.

    Yeah, but other than that he got very little criticism.

  42. John Burgess says:

    @mattb: History has consequences and the longer things go on, the more ‘real’ they become.

    Personally, I put events on a 50-year term. If things haven’t gotten straightened out in 50 years, they’re not going to: Fiat factum.

    Native Americans can try to persuade populations, governments, and courts that they might deserve a better deal than they got. That doesn’t mean that they will succeed in all cases, nor should it. If we’re going to roll back history to undo the ugly, awful things that happened, where do we stop?

    Does Canada go back to the French, or only to the myriad indigenes? How about France? Shall we chase all the Latins out and leave it to the Gauls and Celts? Who did the Gauls and Celts displace? Basques, maybe? Eventually, we get back to the point where Cro-Magnon displaced Neanderthal. It looks as though Neanderthal got there first, in fact. So, let’s all get our DNA analyzed and whosoever’s got the the most Neanderthal DNA gets everything, right?

    Well, we might have to check on H. erectus, H. habilis and those other guys. Maybe they have first dibs, if we can ID their DNA.

  43. mattb says:

    @John Burgess:

    Native Americans can try to persuade populations, governments, and courts that they might deserve a better deal than they got. That doesn’t mean that they will succeed in all cases, nor should it. If we’re going to roll back history to undo the ugly, awful things that happened, where do we stop?

    After that beautiful screed (shorter version — winners keepers, losers weepers), can you explain to me the logic behind the founding of modern Israel? As it runs pretty much counter to everything you just wrote out (especially considering that, as far as I can tell their claim to land had a far larger historical gap than Native Americans (or the displaced people from that land).

    Or, in other words, it doesn’t matter if it’s an invented people or not — it’s really about justifying keeping who we want in power or holding land.

  44. michael reynolds says:

    @mattb:
    I know: we’re actually in complete agreement. But I don’t think that should stop us from arguing. This is the internet, after all.

  45. ponce says:

    Or, in other words, it doesn’t matter if it’s an invented people or not — it’s really about justifying keeping who we want in power or holding land.

    The Israeli land grab in the West Bank has more to do with straight stealing of land than any international power calculations.

    Not only do some of these fringe right religious fanatics steal chunks of land with the assistance of the IDF, they then con the government of Israel into pouring million of..shekels into improving it for them.

    All the while getting slack-jawed Republicans to cheer them on.

    Quite a scam if you can pull it off.

  46. @michael reynolds:

    “The question was not how you feel, but whether the notion of these various identities is an artifact, something invented.”

    Yes, Mr. Reynolds. And I’ve already said, more than once, that they ARE invented. Everything having to do with human political, historic, and social culture is invented. The point is that to single out Palestinians as being an “invented” people and/or national identity — obviously suggesting in the context of this discussion that the peoplehood of Jews is somehow real and not just as invented — is a canard and an idiocy.

    “They are, of course an invented people. So are the Jews, the French, the Dutch and we Americans.”

    Yes, they are, of course.

    “These are lines drawn around individuals, clumping them together using uncertain, ill-defined, often patently absurd criteria.”

    Whether you can define what constitutes a particular cultural or national identitty, or whether such a definition is easy to make, or uncertain, or ill-defined from your point of view, or patently absurd from your point of view is completely irrelevant to whether national and/or cultural identity is “real” in the sense of being legitimately felt and experienced. There IS such a thing as Jewish identity; or as feeling oneself to be part of a national people, like Americans; or as Palestinians being a distinct national identity regardless of what they were or were not 60 or 100 years earlier and regardless of what non-Palestinians think they are or are not.

    Just because identity is social constructed, often hard to define, and complex and sometimes contradictory or inconsistent in nature, does not justify a conclusion that such identity is not real.

  47. @Michael:

    First of all, how do you know? Did you research this?

    And second, this was one man, saying something 35 YEARS AGO. How is that relevant to what Palestinians may or may not, do or do not believe about the finality of the Jewish state now, in 2012 (almost)?

  48. Michael says:

    @Kathy Kattenburg:

    @Michael:

    First of all, how do you know? Did you research this?

    Was the sarcasm really too subtle?

  49. @Michael:

    No, I just read the one-liner quickly and responded before taking a moment to think about it. When I did that just now, it’s obvious it was sarcastic.

    Sorry about that.

  50. John Burgess says:

    @mattb: You missed the point.

    First, Palestinians have a legitimate claim to their land. They lived, more or less in harmony with others for several hundred years, no matter what they called themselves or what they were called by others. They self-identify as Palestinians.

    Second, Israel, having been in existence now for going on 65 years, is a fact and will remain a fact.

    That leaves us with the situation where two people, self-identified and identified by others as two separate groups, want more or less the same land. Both have legitimate claims, at least in part.

    That portion of the land that was converted from a ‘homeland’ as promised by the Balfour Agreement to the state of Israel, by force de main, and sanctioned by the US, USSR, UN and others, is a fact. It’s not going to go away.

    That land occupied since 1967, however, still has a few years left on the clock (my 50-year clock, anyway). There is room for negotiation, if anyone were interested.

    Here’s how I think it can be done, the only way I think it can be done:

    For Mideast Peace: Both Sides Must “Swallow Poison”

    And isn’t it amazing how ‘winners keepers’ has proved to be an inexorable law throughout history?

  51. ponce says:

    And isn’t it amazing how ‘winners keepers’ has proved to be an inexorable law throughout history?

    The British did give away several empires without losing.

  52. Neil Hudelson says:

    @ponce:

    They lost them, just not by the point of a sword. Politically (internationally) they couldn’t afford to keep them anymore, and didn’t have the will or power to put up a fight to not lose them in negotiation.

    Sorry about my horrible sentence structure. It’s late for me, and I’m tired.

  53. grumpy realist says:

    It’s the continued horridness of the entire mess in the Mideast and the continued unwillingness of either side to made the requisite compromises that makes me heartily wish that a big asteroid would hit the entire damn place and send it 100 feet underwater. The idiots can then fight over the seabed.

    I had a friend from that area, who emigrated as soon as he could to the U.S. His analysis of the situation was quite simple: “people in the mideast are nuts.”

  54. John Postley says:

    I’m sorry, is this a conservative, or at least center-right place; or not? I’m guessing not.

    What’s wrong with you folks? Just get back on the good foot with endless negotiations, blaming Israel for her murdered children and casting the same ‘ol Jihadnick assassins as heroic victims! You don’t take accountability very seriously and are all a bit too enthusiastic with semantics. Newt ‘aint for you anyway. Hopefully he’ll get many of you NoVA types looking for work elsewhere in the next 18 months. Keep rooting for your home team: the Gov’ment!

  55. ponce says:

    Interesting point, John.

    Support for Israel used to be a bipartisan, even international effort.

    Now, Israel’s only support comes from American’s fringe right.

    Maybe that’s all it needs?

  56. Gid says:

    Doesn’t this make him dumber than Rick Perry?
    Why would you voluntarily talk about “invented people” with no actual nation state history…… in support of “Israel” and “Israelis”.

  57. Andy says:

    Michael R is right that all people are invented in one way or another. What I find disturbing about Gingrich’s comments is that they are so utterly contrary to the American ideal of self-determination. Who is Gingrich or anyone else to tell others what they are and what they are not? Palestinians, it seems, think of themselves as a “people” and if one believes in the concept of self-determination then one must accept that.

  58. mantis says:

    Now, Israel’s only support comes from American’s fringe right.

    I hope that wasn’t a serious statement.

  59. Dazedandconfused says:

    @ponce:

    “Only from the fringe right”??

    Google up Harry Reid’s statements when Bibi spoke to Congress. They have control of both party’s.

  60. Marjolein says:

    @Michael: LOL, Trouw is a Protestand Christian newspaper with in that time about 120.000 (Dutch) readers. Not really where you expect worldwide protests to begin. Not to mention that they only tried to become more of a ‘professional’ journalist-lead newspaper since a change in management in 1975.

  61. John Galt says:

    @Andy: @de stijl: What is sad is that America regularly denies the Kurdish people their right to an independent Kurdistan in order to not ruffle the feathers of Turkey and other Muslim nations.