To gain political power, many politicians will say and promise whatever is necessary to — first — woo financial supporters and — second — woo voters (without alienating financial backers).
United States president Barack Obama has promised “hope,” “change,” comprehensive healthcare reform, shutting down the Guantánamo gulag, the redeployment of US troops in Iraq, to take on the “fat cats” of Wall Street, and a host of other unfulfilled, ignored, insincere utterances.1 Obama is just one of many politicians throughout history who have learned that lies can sway masses of people. Republican presidential aspirant Newt Gingrich is no stranger to the persuasive power of the lie.
In an interview to be broadcast Monday on The Jewish Channel, Gingrich said that Palestininans [sic]2 are an “invented” people without claim to their own state.
When asked if he is a Zionist, Gingrich replied: “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.”
Dr. Ismail Zayid, who was born in Palestine, responded to me a few years ago on the topic of who the Palestinians are:
The Palestinian people of today are the direct descendents of the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Jebusites and other Arab tribes that lived in this land, of historic Palestine, since history began. Professor Maxime Rodinson, Professor of History at the Sorbonne University in Paris, and he is Jewish, stated in 1968: “The Arab population of Palestine was native in all the senses of the word, and their roots in Palestine can be traced back at least forty centuries.”
The British historian, H.G. Wells, responding to the Balfour Declaration, stated: “If it is proper to ‘reconstitute’ a Jewish state, which has not existed for two thousand years, why not go back another thousand years and reconstitute the Canaanite state? The Canaanites, unlike the Jews, are still there.”
In essence, the Palestinian people of today are the indigenous people of this land and, hence, their right to self-determination and statehood in their native land is in complete accordance with international law and the UN Charter.
The Israelis are not the original inhabitants of Palestine. They came as invaders. The land of Palestine, because of its geographic location, was exposed, throughout history, to a variety of invaders including the Hebrew tribes, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Turks and the British and finally the Israelis of today. The Hebrew tribes [The Israelites], as invaders have no more legitimate claim to this land than the Greeks, Romans, Turks etc. If conquering invaders, in occupation for a period of time, have any legitimate claim to a territory or country, then the Romans should claim England as their land, and the Arabs should claim Spain as their land, and so on.
I don’t know where Gingrich gets his information from. It sounds like former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir: “There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? … It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”3 Or was it from Jane Peter’s From Time Immemorial which claimed that Palestine was an empty land. Peter’s work was revealed as a fraud by Norman Finkelstein.4 Or was it the plagiarized version of Peter’s fraud by Alan Dershowitz5 Chutzpah, whose academic transgression was exposed again by Norman Finkelstein.6
Where does the logic of Gingrich arise and where does it lead? It is also true that there also was no Israel as a state. Before European invaders came to Turtle Island there was no Canada or the United States. Indisputably, there were no Canadians or Americans. Does Gingrich, therefore, by the same token regard Canadians and Americans7 as an “invention.” Did Gingrich, perhaps, hit upon the use of the word “invention” from the title of a book by Israeli historian Shlomo Sand who had the academic fidelity and courage to write The Invention of the Jewish People. In his book, Sand delves into Jewish historiography and states that ethnicity is not a shared trait of Jewry and the claim to Palestine is not historically valid.8
Gingrich even surprised The Jewish Channel interviewer, Steven I. Weiss: “It’s a comment I’ve heard before because I’ve covered the far right in the Jewish community and the pro-Israel community. But I was surprised to hear a mainstream Republican figure say it…” Newt Gingrich is mainstream Republican? One wonders what the right wing of the Republican Party sounds like.
Gingrich appears to have read Mein Kampf wherein Adolf Hitler wrote, “… all effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials and those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotyped formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward..” In other words, it appears as if Gingrich and his pals believe that repeating the canard of “no Palestinians” will reify the lie.9
- For more see “Promise Broken rulings on the The Obameter,” PolitiFact.com. [↩]
- The right-wing, Zionist-supporting Washington Post can’t even get the spelling of P-a-l-e-s-t-i-n-i-a-n right one day after publishing. Amy Gardner, “Gingrich says Palestianians [sic] are an ‘invented’ people,” Washington Post, 9 December 2011. [↩]
- Quoted in Sunday Times (15 June 1969) and Washington Post (16 June 1969). In Wikiquotes. Upon Meir’s death, her life-long friend Lou Kadar told journalist Alan Hart: “Golda made me promise to tell you, but not until she was dead, that as soon as those words left her lips, she knew they were the silliest damn thing she had ever said!” In Alan Hart, Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews: Volume One: The False Messiah (Clarity Press, 2009; review.) This writer considers it extremely odd that someone would want to live the rest of her life with “the silliest damn thing” she ever said uncorrected. In the same book, Hart revealed the sinister side of Meir when he asked her on-air: “You are saying that if ever Israel was in danger of being defeated on the battlefield, it would be prepared to take the region and even the whole world down with it?” Meir’s response: “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.” [↩]
- Famed scholar Noam Chomsky praised the rigor of Finkelstein’s research:
… From Time Immemorial. It was a big scholarly-looking book with lots of footnotes, which purported to show that the Palestinians were all recent immigrants … And it was very popular — it got literally hundreds of rave reviews, and no negative reviews: the Washington Post, the New York Times, everybody was just raving about it. Here was this book which proved that there were really no Palestinians! Of course, the implicit message was, if Israel kicks them all out there’s no moral issue, because they’re just recent immigrants who came in because the Jews had built up the country. … That was the big intellectual hit for that year: Saul Bellow, Barbara Tuchman, everybody was talking about it as the greatest thing since chocolate cake. Well, one graduate student at Princeton, a guy named Norman Finkelstein, started reading through the book. He was interested in the history of Zionism, and as he read the book he was kind of surprised by some of the things it said. He’s a very careful student, and he started checking the references — and it turned out that the whole thing was a hoax, it was completely faked: probably it had been put together by some intelligence agency … Noam Chomsky, “The Fate of an Honest Intellectual,” Excerpted from Understanding Power (The New Press, 2002): 244-248.
- Adding to the shame of having been caught citing from a work without proper attribution is that the book the Harvard law professor chose as his source, was noted by Chomsky in 2002 as having been dropped from discourse among American intellectuals because it was an “embarrassment.” [↩]
- See Matthew Abraham, “Review Essay: Norman Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, AARGH Reprints, December 2005. [↩]
- And so on, all the way down to Tierra del Fuego for the rest of the European invaders in whoever’s territory they found themselves. [↩]
- See review by Jack Ross, “Shlomo Sand’s ‘The Invention of the Jewish People,’” Mondoweiss, 10 October 2009. [↩]
- Adolf Hitler, “War Propaganda,” Mein Kampf, Volume 1 (1925). [↩]