Why Gingrich said something important when he talked about an “invented” people

Others have said it, but I like best the way Evelyn Gordon said it.  After confirming the historic accuracy of Newt’s claim (namely, that Arabs moved into the land at the end of the 19th century, rather than having lived there since time immemorial), Gordon goes on:

One might ask why this should matter: Regardless of when either Jews or Palestinians arrived, millions of both live east of the Jordan River​ today, and that’s the reality policymakers must deal with. But in truth, it matters greatly – because Western support for Palestinian negotiating positions stems largely from the widespread view that Palestinians are an indigenous people whose land was stolen by Western (Jewish) interlopers.

Current demographic realities would probably suffice to convince most Westerners that a Palestinian state should exist. But the same can’t be said of Western insistence that its border must be the 1967 lines, with adjustments possible only via one-to-one territorial swaps and only if the Palestinians consent. Indeed, just 44 years ago, UN Resolution 242 was carefully crafted to reflect a Western consensus that the 1967 lines shouldn’t be the permanent border. So what changed?

The answer lies in the phrase routinely used to describe the West Bank and Gaza today, but which almost nobody used back in 1967, when Israel captured these areas from Jordan and Egypt, respectively: “occupied Palestinian territory.” This phrase implies that the land belongs to the Palestinians and always has. And if so, why shouldn’t Israel be required to give back every last inch?

But if the land hasn’t belonged to the Palestinians “from time immemorial” – if instead, both Palestinians and Jews comprise small indigenous populations augmented by massive immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the West Bank and Gaza becoming fully Judenrein only after Jordan and Egypt occupied them in 1948 – then there’s no inherent reason why the border must necessarily be in one place rather than another. To create two states, a border must be drawn somewhere, but that “somewhere” should depend only on the parties’ current needs – just as the drafters of Resolution 242 envisioned.

Read the rest here.

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  • oceanguy

    I’d like to point out one important distinction missed by Newt.  That is that prior to 1948, even through the 50’s, “Palestinians” were Jews.  Yes, before it was possible to label Jews as “Israeli,” the Jews living in the Palestinian Mandate were the original “Palestinians.”   
    The people “invented” and today commonly known as Palestinians were created as an undesirable caste of Arabs… not wanted by Jordan, not wanted by Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, nor any of the other Arab States.
    Knowledge of the history of the conquests of Islam… including: the House of Saud, the Ottoman Empire, the Hashemites, the creation of the Palestinian mandate and it’s partition in 1922 into the Kingdom of Trans-Jordan and the British administered homeland for the Jews, Palestine… may or may not change the view of leftists, but intelligent people ought to inform themselves of the facts before leaping to naive conclusions. 
    Before Arafat deigned to steal Israel, he stole the historic name of the Jewish people living on the land before it became the Jewish State of Israel.

  • roylofquist

    A rabbi speaking to an imam: Moses bathed himself in a spring and when he emerged he found that a Palestinian had stolen his clothes. 

    Imam: What?! There weren’t any Palestinians then.

    Rabbi: Now that we got that question settled…..


  • expat

    I agree that Newt said something important, but I’m not sure the venue was optimal. A concept, especially one provocatively worded, that is used in the middle of a campaign can easily be ignored or hyped by the people who most need to think about it, ie, the Palestinians and their uninformed global supporters. It might have been better saved for a foreign policy address by the president when it would provoke serious followup discussion by those abroad not following the day-to-day of the campaign.