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December 12, 2011 8:03 am

Newt Gingrich and Middle East Truth

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Republican Presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich. Photo: Gage Skidmore.

On Saturday night, during a televised debate, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said, “It’s fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, ‘Enough lying about the Middle East.'” He went on to call the Israeli-Palestinian peace process “delusional.”  Kudos to Newt Gingrich for standing up and telling the truth!

Unfortunately, Gingrich is being attacked for these statements. The Jewish community and all true people of peace should simply review the facts – and realize that there is no question that Gingrich is right. When I was national president of the Betar Zionist youth movement in the 1980s and 90s – an organization linked to today’s Likud Party – this was a part of mainstream Jewish and Zionist education, this was Israel’s accepted position. I recall many pro-Israel rallies with simple chants: “2-4-6-8 Israel is a Jewish State, 3-5-7-9; no such thing as Palestine.”

As Yasser Arafat and his PLO gained more acceptance, the, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian” seemed to be a lost public relations fight, and after the Oslo peace accords the issue was dropped. The concept is really quite simple – as the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said: “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people.” If one was born in “Palestine” before the state of Israel was founded, they received a “Palestinian” passport – and naturally they were “Palestinian Jews.” All of this is common knowledge – and the Republican presidential frontrunner is today being attacked by Palestinians and certain Jewish “leaders” for saying that Palestinians are an “invented” people. What substance can they possibly have for attacking him?

It’s a fact as Gingrich the historian noted – there has never been a state of Palestine. “I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community,” said Gingrich. “And they had a chance to go many places, and for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it’s tragic.” The land of Israel and the Palestinian territories were part of the Ottoman Empire before being taken over by Great Britain. Mandated Palestine, as it was known, was then partitioned by the UN in 1947.

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In world history Palestine has never existed as a nation. The region known as Palestine was ruled alternately by Rome, by Islamic and Christian crusaders, by the Ottoman Empire and, briefly, by the British after WWI. The British agreed to restore at least part of the land to the Jewish people as their ancestral homeland. It was never ruled by Arabs as a separate nation. The world may not know it – but there’s never been a “Palestinian” nation, a “Palestinian” kingdom, a “Palestinian” capital, a “Palestinian” language, culture, food – you get the idea.

In fact, even in 1977, the Dutch newspaper TROUW published an interview with PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein. Here’s what he said: “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.”

Pretty clear, no? Let’s review the words of Azmi Bishara, the Arab former Knesset member, “I don’t think there is a Palestinian nation. I think there is an Arab nation; I think that this [the term “Palestinian nation”] is a colonial invention. Palestine, up to the end of the 19th century, was Southern Syria.”

Of course, leave no time for the Palestinians to threaten violence in response to words. “This is the lowest point of thinking anyone can reach,” said lead negotiator Saeb Erekat. The comments only “increase the cycle of violence.” More absurd talk came from those who said that even the Prime Minister of Israel supports a Palestinian State.

Having formerly worked as a spokesperson for the Likud Party, I am positive that the Prime Minister’s words are to be attributed solely to world pressure. I can assure you that PM Netanyahu doesn’t wake up and dream of a Palestinian State. The Jewish community and true peace seekers worldwide should recognize that Gingrich’s comments strengthen the hands of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Deputy Speaker of Knesset, Danny Danon, said that Gingrich “understands very well the reality we live in the Middle East” and said his statement on the Palestinians is a position shared by “most of the Jewish people, not just in Israel.”

Instead of deflecting the issue, the world should focus on the substance of Gingrich’s comments. He correctly asserted that President Barack Obama’s treatment of Palestinians is “favoring the terrorists.” “When the president keeps talking about a peace process while Hamas keeps firing missiles into Israel, if we had a country next to us firing missiles, how eager would we be to sit down and negotiate?” he asked.

Owning a PR agency, I wish more politicians would utilize the media to speak truth to power. Kudos to Newt Gingrich.

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  • frania kryszpel block

    To speak truth to power is what Gingrich did. He had the strength and guts to say the simple truth. It has been there all the time. Many powerful forces want to revise history for their reasons. His coming out in the media and saying in public,out loud,what others have always said behind closed doors may have changed the path we were forced into all these years. The media brought it to us and may have changed history. A powerful tool.

  • frania kryszpel block

    It is hard to understand refugee camps in existence for so long. Who kept this going ? It is different then any others in that the people instead to be taken in by countries,just stayed in those camps. It is backwards. The relief organizations are not made to deliver for long term. Why did these camps stay in existence when these people had many places to go? This prolonged everything bad for all sides.

  • A REAL American

    Ronn,–this is a GREAT op-ed!! I posted it to my wall in Facebook for everyone to read.

    It is a shame that most people don’t understand the simple facts of this conflict.

    National identities & borders are a western colonial import to the Middle East not indigenous to the region. There is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese–these are all the same people with the same culture.

    When Sirhan Sirhan murdered Robert Kennedy the Chicago Tribune called him an “Arab from Southern Syria” because the term “palestinian” was just invented and not yet in common use.

    Palestinian nationalism is a purely political concept created by the Arab world in 1964 in order to extend the conflict & press their claims against Israel. In other words this is the stick the Arab world has used to hit Israel over the head with–and they use it every chance they get.

    Newt Gingrich should be applauded as the first Presidential Candidate with enough courage to apply historical accuracy to this conflict as a means to bring it to a final settlement. Current & past Presidents with “Nobel” ambitions (read Obama and Clinton) have inflamed the conflict by kowtowing to political correctness while ignoring all relevant political, historical, religious, and legal context. Enabling the Palestinians has just emboldened the terrorists to murder more Jews.

    Gingrich’s statement shows that he understands that placating the Arabs by allowing their mythological narrative to drive the negotiation process has only served to extend the bloody conflict into its 9th DECADE!!

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