A few days ago the NY Times reported an interview with Newt Gingrich in which he made the fabulist claim that the Palestinians are an “invented people.” Now, in a follow-up article, the Times expands on Newt’s embarrassing exhibition of ignorance about the Palestinians:
“I mean, we have an armed truce with a Palestinian Authority that’s relatively weak,” he said. “And on its flank is a Hamas authority, which may become relatively weak because it can’t deliver anything. But both of which represent an enormous desire to destroy Israel.”
He described Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, as denying Israel’s right to exist.
“You have Abbas, who says in the United Nations, ‘We do not necessarily concede Israel’s right to exist,’ ” Mr. Gingrich said. “So you have to start with this question: ‘Who are you making peace with?’”
First, “we” don’t have a truce or even an armed truth with anyone, unless of course Newt became a dual citizen and took up Israeli citizenship. Second, the “truce?” That’s with Hamas, not the PA. The latter, in case Gingrich wasn’t aware, wasn’t in a state of hostilities with Israel. In fact, it recognizes Israel and has done so since 1988. So that stuff about the PA having “an enormous desire to destroy Israel?” He made it up.
That’s not to stop Israel from killing its residents as they did yesterday, when Mustafa Tamimi was killed by a high velocity tear gas canister for the crime of throwing a stone at an armored IDF vehicle which was in no danger whatsoever. Third, if the PA is “weak” it’s because Israel has made it so by refusing to negotiate a peace agreement. Fourth, as for Hamas being weak, that’s not the case at all. In fact, Israel’s policy of refusing to negotiate a settlement has made Hamas incredibly strong as the sole meaningful Palestinian movement resisting Israeli Occupation. Fifth, the crap about Abbas “not necessarily recognizing Israel’s right to exist?” Didn’t happen. Newtie just made that one up.
This is the guy who’s running as top dog among the current Republican presidential candidates. What will they come up with next?
The Times story quotes perennial lib-Zionist source Martin Indyk reciting meaningless platitudes:
Martin S. Indyk, a former United States ambassador to Israel, said that if Mr. Gingrich believed that Palestinians did not have a right to an independent state, “as implied in his language, then he’s not pro-Israel at all.”
“Because the government of Israel under Prime Minister Netanyahu supports a two-state solution,” Mr. Indyk said. “The people of Israel — an overwhelming majority of them — support a two-state solution, in which there would be an independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure state of Israel.”
Indyk makes the mistake of believing what Netanyahu says, while ignoring what he does. That’s a fatal mistake in politics. Bibi gave one speech in which he claimed to support a two state solution. But every act of his entire life, and certainly in his leadership of this government has summarily rejected the notion of two-states. He doesn’t support two states at all. In fact, he wishes to sabotage the very possibility. So Indyk’s claim that Gingrich is not on the same page with Netanyahu is a crock. Both Gingrich and Bibi are on the same page. Neither wants a Palestinian state. Both want Israeli hegemony in all of Eretz Yisrael in perpetuity, or as close as we can get to that.
As for whether the Israeli people (remember, those who were “invented” around 1948 or, if you want to go back a bit farther, by Theodor Herzl in 1898) support a two state solution. I suppose you might say that in theory they do. But theory means little or nothing when we talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If you asked most Israelis whether they believe there ever will be a two state solution, I’d bet my bottom dollar that most would say, No. And in the end, that’s what counts far more than theories. If Israelis don’t believe there ever will be a two state solution then they’ll see no reason to support the compromises necessary to get there. Nor will they exert pressures on their elected leaders to get them there.
So Newtie, he’s in perfect synch with Bibi and the Israeli silent majority. The latter won’t bust their hump for peace or a Palestinian state. So why should a front-running Republican presidential candidate? Newt, you’re right in the pro-Israel nationalist sweet spot. Don’t you move a muscle.
Which is why I was charmed by Gingrich’s representative, who issued a “clarification” of his boss’ remarks which of course clarified nothing. He claimed that Newt does follow long-term U.S. policy which calls for a two-state solution. How could anyone have ever doubted him? As for his comments about the invention of Palestine, well that’s a long complicated historical discussion which Prof. Gingrich had waded into, and being a learned professor perhaps his audience could be forgiven for not following all the nuances of his argument:
“…To understand what is being proposed and negotiated you have to understand decades of complex history, which is exactly what Gingrich was referencing during the recent interview with The Jewish Channel.”
Among other nuggets in the series of interviews The Jewish Channel features on its YouTube channel, he says he “has a bias” in favor of clemency for Jonathan Pollard, the American who damaged U.S. intelligence more than any other spy in recent U.S. history. He also called Israel “a civilian democracy that obeys the rule of law” (how long do we have to unravel the errors in that sentence?) while calling the Palestinians “a bunch of terrorists who are firing missiles every day.” In the following, he gets twisted in the knickers of his own metaphor in calling Obama administration policy regarding the Palestinians:
“Like taking a child to the zoo and telling it the lion was really a bunny rabbit and that it was OK to get in the cage and play with the bunny rabbit, and then you’re shocked that the lion ate the bunny rabbit.
UPDATE: The AP notes that Gingrich poured gasoline on this fire in the latest presidential debate when he had this astounding comment:
“Is what I said factually true? Yes,” Gingrich said during a candidate debate in which he drew applause for asserting that it was time someone spoke the truth about the nature of Israel’s struggle with the Palestinians.
“Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists,” he said. “It’s fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, ‘Enough lying about the Middle East.”‘
“These people,” these Palestinian people, all of them apparently, “are terrorists.” Hey, if the Republicans want to nominate this guy as their standard bearer, knock yourselves out. I hope it happens. He’ll be roast meat come November.
I chuckle at the recent profile the Times ran of Gingrich in which they actually credited him with being a deep thinker, or at least playing one on the campaign trail. They even got a few historians to concede that Newt was a respected member of the Historians’ Club, even if he did stray off the reservation of intellectual rigor every once in a while. Face it, the guy’s a joke, a blowhard who likes to hear himself think and talk. But one who would be far better off if he’d exert a bit of discipline over whatever intellectual and verbal faculties he does have.
- Newt Gingrich: Leading GOP Presidential Candidate: “Palestinians are ‘invented’ People” (loonwatch.com)
- Gingrich Camp: Newt Supports A Palestinian State, But ‘You Have To Understand Decades Of Complex History’ (thinkprogress.org)