Worse Than Gingrich's 'Invented People'
Comment Was Quietness and Gullibility of Audience
By Daoud Kuttab
Ma'an, December 15, 2011
In September 1993, the prime minister of Israel at the time,
Yitzhak Rabin, wrote to PLO chairman Yasser Arafat:
to your letter of September 9, 1993, I wish to confirm to you that, in
light of the PLO commitments included in your letter, the government of
Israel has decided to recognise the PLO as the representative of the
Palestinian people and commence negotiations with the PLO within the
Middle East peace process."
The letter was proof of Israel and
PLO mutual recognition, which ushered in the Oslo Accords signed on the
White House lawn on Sept. 13, 1993.
The Palestinians sought and
received recognition with many sacrifices. Negating or denying the
existence of the Palestinian people after the government of the state of
Israel recognized it shows how low some US presidential candidates have
While Newt Gingrichís comments to a Jewish media outlet
that Palestinians are an invented people was pretty bad, even worse was
what happened (or didnít) afterward.
The statement made on the
eve of the pre-Iowa Republican primaries brought immediate response from
Palestinians. PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi questioned
whether someone making such a statement has what it takes to become the
president of the United States of America. Other Palestinian officials
correctly identified the statement as green light to Israelis to carry
out ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.
When ABCís George
Stephanopoulos asked Republican nominees during the Las Vegas debate to
comment on the statement, no one dealt directly with it. Republicans
seeking the office of the presidency were tripping over each other to
show more support for Israel. No one even tried to acknowledge the
existence of Palestinians.
Perhaps the least damaging statement
came from congressman Ron Paul who quipped that if Palestinians were
invented so was Israel. Everyone else reiterated their total,
unequivocal and non-negotiable support for Americaís "ally" Israel. If
they had a problem with the statement, it was that it might not have
been very diplomatic.
Mitt Romney, the other leading Republican
contender who wants to move the US embassy immediately to Jerusalem the
day he becomes president, said that he would have "contacted" the
Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu before making such a controversial
statement. Others agreed about the tactic, but none dealt with the
When time came for Gingrich, he not only stood by his
statement, but added more. Stereotyping an entire nation, he called
Palestinians "terrorists" and claimed wrongly that Palestinian textbooks
teach hatred of Jews. He also claimed, wrongly, that the US government
funds the printing of what he claimed to be hate-filled books.
While Israeli and US officials were quiet
on the subject, and major American politicians, historians and thinkers
were nowhere to be heard, it took a self-proclaimed pro-Israel American
Jewish writer to burst the bubble.
Writing in The New York Times,
Thomas Friedman denounced this hypocritical love
fest for the Jewish votes saying that this "competition" to grovel for
Jewish votes - by outloving Israel - takes Republicans "to a new low."
He called such action "loving Israel to death -
Friedman explains that if Palestinians were
not a nation, then the US nominee is either supporting an apartheid
system, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, or laying the foundation for a
binational state, asking: Is this being pro-Israel?
front of Republican voters, the statements made by Gingrich and the
other nominees brought warm applause from the audience.
may label Republican nominee statements as political pandering paid for
by AIPAC lobbyists, the applause by a totally
gullible and easily swayed American voting crowd is probably the
scariest part of this sad incident.
Daoud Kuttab is
a Palestinian journalist and former professor of journalism at Princeton
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