Israel,  Vote 2012

Gingrich and the “invented” people

More-Pro-Israel-Than-Thou contests are rarely pretty or edifying– although they are not quite as bad as More-Anti-Israel-Than-Thou contests.

For one thing, trying to out-support others on Israel (at least here in the US) usually means adopting positions most closely identified with the Israeli far right when it comes to settlements, territory and general belligerence.

For another, you get spectacles like the hardcore rightwing Michele Bachmann proudly citing her experience as a kibbutz volunteer. As Jon Stewart observed: “Michele Bachmann loves Israel so much, she was willing to join a socialist collective.”

But most of the attention has been focused on Newt Gingrich’s assertion that the Palestinians are an “invented” people.

To which Jeffrey Goldberg sensibly responds:

There’s no denying that the Palestinians are a people of recent vintage. But so are the Americans.

Or as the Israeli author Amos Oz said in the 1980s:

He who declares on behalf of the Palestinians that they are not a group with a separate national identity but an extension of the “greater Pan-Arabic nation” is no different from Arafat, who presumes to declare that the Jews are nothing more than a religious sect and therefore unworthy of national self-determination. Just as I vehemently reject the religious decree of Rabbi Yasir Arafat in the question “Who is a Jew,” I do not recognize the right of anyone other than the Palestinians themselves to decide for themselves “Who is an Arab” or “What is a Palestinian.”

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