Blogs > Liberty and Power > Newt Gingrich: Demagogue, Pseudointellectual

Dec 12, 2011

Newt Gingrich: Demagogue, Pseudointellectual

And I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places.
And I think that we've had an invented Pennsylvanian people, who are in fact Americans, and were historically part of the American community. And they had a chance to go many places.
Although the Arabs of Palestine had been creating and developing a Palestinian identity for about 200 years, the idea that Palestinians form a distinct people is relatively recent. The Arabs living in Palestine had never had a separate state. Until the establishment of Israel, the term Palestinian was used by Jews and foreigners to describe the inhabitants of Palestine and had only begun to be used by the Arabs themselves at the turn of the 20th century; at the same time, most saw themselves as part of the larger Arab or Muslim community. The Arabs of Palestine began widely using the term Palestinian starting in the pre-World War I period to indicate the nationalist concept of a Palestinian people. But after 1948—and even more so after 1967—for Palestinians themselves the term came to signify not only a place of origin but, more importantly, a sense of a shared past and future in the form of a Palestinian state. [Emphasis added.]
But Gingrich’s claim that “Palestinian” did not become a common term until 1977 is bizarre. The very [1921] League of Nations mandate that he mentions was called “The British Mandate for Palestine.” The text of the declaration mentions the word “Palestine” 45 times and “Palestinian” twice.

Speaking of inventing people, Gingrich might pick up Shlomo Sand’s excellent book, The Invention of the Jewish People. Sand, a professor history at Tel Aviv University, shows that most national groups were essentially invented.

See Richard Silverstein's excellent commentary. 

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