Saturday, December 10, 2011

Progressives, Palestinians, and the Truth


Progressives are not always comfortable with the truth and this is nowhere more certain than in progressive-left I-P discourse. Recently presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said the following:

Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. We have invented the Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and are historically part of the Arab people, and they had the chance to go many places.

This, needless to say, has both Palestinian and progressive heads exploding all over the place.

In response Palestinian leader Salam Fayyad claimed "our people have been here since the very beginning and are determined to stay on their land until the very end."

Let's see if we cannot determine which of these two statements comes closest to anything that we might consider THE TRUTH.

Let's take Salam Fayyad first. He claims that the Palestinians have been "here" since the very beginning. Well, if that is true then the Palestinians must have a long and distinguished history that anyone can verify simply by walking into a library and reading a book on that history. One would learn about various Palestinian leaders throughout the ages, their struggles and their wars. One would learn about Palestinian contributions to the arts and the letters and the various twists and turns of Palestinian culture century upon century. One would read about Palestinian scientists and their contributions. One would learn about the great Palestinian statesmen and the great Palestinian musicians and the great Palestinian this, that, and the other.

And, yet, somehow, when I go into the library I can find no such books. How is this possible? How is it that if the Palestinians are a people with such a long and rich history, no one has ever written that history and, in fact, the Palestinians themselves do not even have a tradition of oral history in which they pass that history down generation upon generation? Are the Palestinians a secret people with a secret history?

That seems rather unlikely.

If one has any interest in that little thing which we like to call THE TRUTH one would have to conclude that the Palestinians are a people of very recent origin and that as a people they are little different from Jordanians or Syrians or the Arabs local to that area, more generally.

Now let's look again at what Gingrich said:

Remember, there was no Palestine as a state.

This is, of course, true. There has never been a state of Palestine. Ever. There is a long and rich Jewish history in the region, but no "Palestinian" history until near the end of the last century. This is not a matter of interpretation, but a matter of fact.

It was part of the Ottoman Empire.

Indeed, prior to the Ottoman defeat in World War I, the region of "Palestine" was a small part of the greater Ottoman empire. This, too, is not a matter of interpretation, but a matter of fact.

We have invented the Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and are historically part of the Arab people...

This statement is partly true and partly false. It is certainly true that the Palestinians are Arabs who live in that region and they have been historically part of the Arab people. They consider themselves to be ethnically Arab. They speak the Arabic language and share a common religion with the great majority of other Arabs. They eat Arabic cuisine and have an Arabic culture.

Where Newt is entirely wrong is when he says that "we" invented the Palestinian people. The truth, of course, is that the Palestinian people invented the Palestinian people. All peoples are social constructs. All peoples therefore have a starting point. For the Jewish people our starting point was around 3,500 years ago. The starting point for Americans was sometime prior to the Revolution. For the Palestinians it was a quarter past last Tuesday.

The truth of the matter is that the Palestinians emerged as a people only toward the end of the 1960s and it is for this reason that Newt can say, rightly, that the Palestinians are an "invented" people. Of course they are an invented people because all peoples are "invented." It's just that the Palestinians were invented very recently and that their emergence as a people was a response in opposition to the Jewish national project. The Palestinians emerged out of the greater Arab nation for the purpose of opposing the Jews.

This is one of the differences between the Palestinian emergence as a people and the American emergence as a people. The Americans emerged as a people in conflict with the British and the Palestinians emerged as a people in conflict with the Jews. The difference is that the Americans were seeking to fulfill their national aspirations through the creation of an American state while the Palestinians were trying to prevent Jewish national aspirations by endeavoring to destroy the Jewish state.

That may be an uncomfortable fact, but it is a fact.

So the truth is that Newt is not wrong so much as he is being impolitic by speaking the truth. Virtually no one speaks the truth on this question and certainly no politicians ever would... except Newt.

Good for him!

{I like him better, already.}



  1.  This is more than an academic discussion about the past. If a group of people claims to be a nation, they had better have something real, distinctive to show for it, otherwise I could enlist a number of friends of mine, call ourselves a "nation" and make demands on that basis. The world would become a madhouse.

    The Arab colonists in Palestine have no distinctive culture, language or race to mark them off as separate from their brothers across the borders. I say they could become a nation after a century or so of building their distinctive culture, theoretically; in practice, the only culture they nurture among themselves is the culture of suicide-murder. And let the anti-Zionists not give us this "Occupation prevented them" yang, because in August 2005 the occupation of Gaza ended totally, but they used that opportunity to loot the greenhouses and fire Kassam rockets on pre-1967 Israeli Jewish towns.

    There is still no reality behind the claim of them being a nation. The reality is still as it was, that this is a ruse to delegitimize the Jewish nation-state. When the Arabs realized the idea of taking one state from the Jews to benefit a nation that already had around 20 states wasn't going to sit well with world opinion, they invented this non-Jewish "Palestinian nation" to invert the truth of the Jewish David vs. Arab Goliath. This is still all there is to it: Arab imperialist aggression hiding behind a fictitious narrative to justify it to the world.

  2. Arafat was an EGYPTIAN. The Soviets schooled him.

    "The revelations of the highest ranking Soviet bloc defector, Major General Ion Mihai Pacepa, show that the peace process is, and has from the outset, been nothing but a charade.It all started with the creation of a fictitious "Palestinian People" who allegedly demand political self determination. This collective noun was created by the Soviet disinformation masters in 1964 when they created the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the "PLO". The term "Palestinian People" as a descriptive of Arabs in Palestine appeared for the first time in the preamble of the 1964 PLO Charter, drafted in Moscow. The Charter was affirmed by the first 422 members of the Palestinian National Council, handpicked by the KGB.Why in Moscow? The 1960s and 1970s were the years the Soviets were in the business of creating "liberation organizations": for Palestine and Bolivia in 1964, Columbia 1965, in the 70s "The Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia" that bombed US airline offices in Europe, and "The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine that bombed Israelis." But the PLO, was by far its most enduring success.Pacepa has written[1]For nearly four decades, the PLO has been the largest, wealthiest, and most politically connected terrorist organization in the world. For most of that time, it was held in the firm grip of Yasser Arafat's iron fist. But Arafat was not the fierce, independent actor he posed as; he was completely dependent on the Soviet KGB and its surrogate Warsaw Pact intelligence services for arms, training, logistical support, funds, and direction.According to Pacepa his KGB handlers included Vasali Samoylenko, Vladimir Buljakov, and Soviet "Ambassador" Alexander Soldatov. Arafat's closest friend and head of PLO intelligence, Hani Hassan, was actually an agent of the DIE, the Romanian subsidiary of the KGB.In the PLO Charter preamble they actually had to use the phrase "Palestinian Arab People" to exclude those Jews who had retained a presence in Palestine since Biblical times and had been a majority population in Jerusalem as early as 1845. Romanian Communist dictator Ceausescu, at Soviet urging, persuaded Arafat to abandon his claim of wanting to annihilate the Jews in Israel in favor of "liberating the Palestinian People" in Israel......"

  3. Over at dKos they have labelled him a racist on the basis of this.  Inevitable I suppose. I don't know if he is a racist or not  but what I do know is that if one goes against the Narrative, one is going to get labelled a racist. It's the default Progressive reaction. And it means that Progressives have picked a side; the side of the Narrative.

  4. Some pro-Israel folk are among those who are bent by Gingrich's words or the historical and sociological facts.

    I was even called Newt at The Progressive Zionist.

    They seem more concerned about the nonexistent right not to be offended, that accuracy suffers.

  5. Well, and the thing of it is, Gingrich did not say that Palestinians do not exist as a people.

    He simply did not say that, nor have I said it.

  6. Hey Zion,

    thank you for your stalwart defense of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.  You are more than welcome around these parts any time.


  7.  Thanks, Karmafish! I've just been a bit short of free time lately, so there's a lot of days I comment on Israellycool and nowhere else, just so I have only one forum to keep track of.

    Ron Paul ad advocated on dKos gets 198 recs. Ron Paul for crap's sake. But Newt gets it in the eye. Hypocrites.