Libertarian Hawk


Newt Is Right: The Palestinians Are an Invented People

December 14, 2011 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Israel

Frontrunner-of-the-month GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich caused a stir at Saturday night’s Iowa debate when he affirmed his previous characterization of “an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and were historically part of the Arab community.”

For once, Gingrich is correct.

The label “Palestine” was used historically to refer to the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River (and beyond); the term had no political import.  During the first half of the 20th century, “Palestinian” referred largely to Jews living in Palestine.  The Palestine Post, for example, was printed in Hebrew and English, and in 1950 was renamed The Jerusalem Post.

The British, who controlled Palestine after WWI, divided it in two in 1923, giving 75% of the land—the area that is now Jordan—to Palestinian Arabs, and the remaining 25% to Palestinian Jews.  But that wasn’t good enough to satisfy regional Arabic despots.

In 1947, the United Nations proposed a partition plan to create side-by-side Jewish and Arab states out of the 25% that was left of the original Palestine, west of the Jordan River.  The Arab regimes surrounding Palestine rejected the deal; this resulted in the 1947-1948 Civil War and the creation of the Jewish state.

During the subsequent 1948 Arab-Israeli War, started against Israel one day after it declared statehood, Arab governments encouraged hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs to flee their homes in order to facilitate the onslaught of the invading armies of Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen against Israelis.  These regimes promised to return to Palestinian Arabs the property they had left once Israel was defeated; however, Israel won, and refugees were forced to relocate outside of Palestine.

As Gingrich noted, plenty of Muslim countries could have given Palestinian Arab refugees a state, but none did.  The countries to which refugees scattered—chiefly Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan—suppressed any burgeoning sense of Palestinian identity to a far greater degree than Israel ever did.

Strangely, Palestinian Arab refugees did not protest after the Arab-Israeli war when Egypt and Jordan grabbed the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Jerusalem—the same territories that the United Nations had set aside to serve as their home state.  To this day, Palestinian Arabs insist on being granted, not the territory set aside for them in 1923 in present-day Jordan, not the territory taken over in 1948 by Egypt and Jordan, but one tiny sliver of land in the Middle East that has served as a refuge for Jewish Holocaust survivors and a base for Jews to call their home state.

The “Palestinian people” was a fiction created post-WWII to facilitate the insertion of a fifth column inside Israel to demand endless, untenable land concessions and eventually encroach upon the entire Jewish state.

In an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw in 1977, former Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Zuheir Mohsen admitted, “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.”

How much clearer can it get?  How much more nakedly could the founders of the Palestinian strategy reveal their modus operandi?

That the Palestinian people are invented is not in question.  The only question is whether they should be awarded their own state.  Anyone who cares about the security of Israel, the only free nation in the region, should answer with a resounding no.

Back to Saturday’s debate: Moderator George Stephanopoulos asked Gingrich if he thought his comments were dangerous.  Gingrich replied, “Is what I said factually correct?  Yes.  Is it historically true?  Yes…  [E]very day, rockets are fired into Israel…  Hamas does not admit the right of Israel to exist, and says publicly, ‘Not a single Jew will remain.’ The Palestinian Authority ambassador to India said last month… ‘Israel has no right to exist.’”

He continued: “The Palestinian claim to a right of return is based on a historically false story.  Somebody ought to have the courage to go all the way back to… the context in which Israel came into existence…  ‘Palestinian’ did not become a common term until after 1977.  This is a propaganda war in which our side refuses to engage.”

In response to Gingrich’s defense, hapless Mitt Romney floundered all over the place, claiming that, although he mostly agreed with Gingrich, it was a “mistake” to call the Palestinians an invented people (though they are), Gingrich had made it “more difficult for [Israelis] to sit down with the Palestinians” (though it’s already impossible), and Gingrich had decided to “throw incendiary words into a place which is a boiling pot” (though the situation is already hopeless).

Despite his ideological missteps, character flaws, and general unsuitability to be our nominee, I’m happy to give credit where credit is due, and in this case it goes squarely to Gingrich.  As he summed up, “It is helpful to have a president of the United States with the courage to tell the truth, [like] Ronald Reagan, who went around his entire national security apparatus to call the Soviet Union an evil empire and who overruled his entire State Department in order to say, ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.’  Reagan believed the power of truth restated the world and reframed the world…  I will tell the truth, even if it’s at the risk of causing some confusion… with the timid.”

If Gingrich doesn’t get the nomination—and he doesn’t especially deserve to—he may at least serve the same function that other unlikely nominees have served on various issues from Santorum (Iran) to Cain (taxes) to Bachmann (ObamaCare) to Perry (Social Security): namely, to push Mitt Romney to the right.  Based on his comments on the Palestinians, Gingrich may even serve as a model for pressuring our nominee to speak the truth.

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How About a Relief Vessel Called the Yasser Arafat?

June 09, 2010 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Israel

Image by Scott Spiegel via Flickr

Perhaps the heartrending lament that the Turkish aid flotilla Mavi Marmara—headed for Gaza and stopped by the Israeli Navy last week—contained a bevy of innocent Nobel Peace laureates would be more compelling if recent Nobel Peace laureates didn’t include the father of modern terrorism, Yasser Arafat.

Perhaps the fact that nine passengers were accidentally killed in the struggle would carry more emotional punch if the excursion hadn’t been funded by an Islamist, anti-Israeli, Hamas-allied, Turkish front group whose dream is to unaccidentally kill six million Jews.

Perhaps the claim that helpless crew members were unarmed and sought no confrontation with Israeli soldiers would ring truer if the Mavi Marmara hadn’t been stocked with butcher knives and heavy baton-shaped pipes and sticks.

Notwithstanding Pat Buchanan’s idiotic comparison of the ship’s passengers to civil rights protestors, and Israel’s stopping the flotilla to a garden-variety carjacking, Israel is not indiscriminately lobbing cannonballs into Gaza-bound aid ships and sinking them, or raiding them for loot and hostages, Somali pirate-style.

Firing on these “aid” ships that pro-Palestinian groups keep using to try to break Israel’s blockade would actually be justifiable, given that such groups are forever trying to sneak steel, concrete, and other weapons supplies to Gaza for the purpose of constructing more rockets to fire into neighboring Israeli cities.

Instead of reacting as, say, the United States would have if Germany or Japan had tried to break its naval blockade during World War II, the Israeli Navy patiently sends multiple radio warnings to ships entering the blockade zone and gently escorts them to a nearby port, where they inspect the ships, separate any items constituting genuine aid from those that could be used to build weapons, and offer to truck the permitted goods to Gaza at Israel’s cost.

The delivery of confiscated aid to Gaza is invariably turned away.

For example, Israel allowed the Rachel Corrie, a ship named after a dumb American from the hippie Northwest who was crushed to death after she stood in the way of IDF bulldozers clearing the way for Israeli settlements, to dock in the port Ashdod last Saturday, and offered to inspect its cargo after the passengers did not engage in murderous resistance.  The Rachel Corrie held only 11 passengers and, for once, was sponsored by a group that renounces violence.  Gaza’s refusal to accept the aid confiscated by Israel disproves pro-Hamas activists’ lie that Israel is a ruthless, bloodthirsty military state out to slaughter human rights activists and prevent vital aid from getting to starving Gazans.

The United States supports the blockade, which Israel instituted after years of suicidally tolerating aid ships delivering contraband to Gaza and Hamas’s ongoing offensive in which they have fired thousands of rockets into Israel’s most populous cities.

As with all too many international affairs, it looks as though the United States and Israel will have to go this one alone.  Even in the U.S., Israel has its detractors, such as the editorial board at the New York Times, which planted the following anti-Israeli zingers in a pseudo-balanced editorial last weekend: “Turkey is understandably furious about Israel’s disastrous attack on the Turkish-flagged aid ship that tried to run the Gaza blockade…  Israel deserves to be criticized for the flotilla disaster…  [Israel] has a strong interest in repairing relations with Turkey [but] Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still doesn’t get this.”

Imagine for a second if Staten Island were populated by trigger-happy terrorists who repeatedly stated as their goal the destruction of Manhattan and the tossing of all Manhattanites into the Hudson River.  Imagine if Staten Islanders had a history of smuggling in weapons-building materials from ships sent from: Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Long Island, Roosevelt Island, Governors Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, and upstate New York.  Imagine if Staten Islanders periodically launched thousands of rockets into the center of Manhattan.  Imagine if Mayor Bloomberg shipped thousands of tons of aid to Staten Island every day, to appease the New York Times, but instituted a naval blockade around Staten Island to prevent weapons from being sent there.

Now imagine if pro-Staten Islander phony aid ships repeatedly violated the blockade, filling its passenger lists with homicidal jihadists, deadly weapons, and a few token peace activists, and refused all offers for genuine humanitarian aid to be trucked to Staten Island and distributed at Manhattan’s expense.

I think there would be just a bit more sympathy toward Manhattan’s taking steps to defend itself—even at The Times.

Here’s a suggestion to pro-Hamas groups: how about calling the next phony relief vessel to Gaza the Yasser Arafat?  How do you think that would go over on the world stage?  After all, Arafat was a humanitarian Nobel Prize laureate!

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