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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Newt Was Right, But ...

Much is being made these days by those who took great glee in Newt Gingrich's declaration of the truth when it came to Palestine and its history.

(Here's what he said, for the sake of accuracy: ""Remember there was no Palestine as a state -- [it was] part of the Ottoman Empire. I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs.")

While historically (and refreshingly) accurate, it's also historically inaccurate.  True, there has never been a "Palestine as a state."  Nor, until recent decades, has their been a "Palestinian people" as we know them today.  (In fact, there are many Jews living there today who can rightfully claim "Palestinian" heritage because their ancestors are of "Palestine.")

So why is Gingrich's statement of fact factually inaccurate?

Because there is - whether he likes it or not - a well-defined, well-recognized group of human beings who call themselves Palestinians today.  Today being part of history too.

To deny Palestine as a legitimate geographical/geopolitical entity is to deny the state of Israel for the same reason.  Israel as we know it, after all, was not "invented" until done so by the United Nations, beginning in 1947, when it was carved out of ... guess what.  See "United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine."  To use his terminology, Israelis are "an invented people who are in fact Palestinians" too.

So Newt was right and Newt was wrong.  What was was.  But, just as important, what is is.

- - -

Want to know what Newt was getting at? Here's a map of "Palestine" before the state of Israel was created:

And here's what "Palestine" consisted of in the way of Jews and Arabs (you'll want to click on the image to enlarge it):

Again, there was no "Palestine" as we know it today.  But there was no "Israel" as we know it today either.  So Newt Gingrich's statement of fact is beside the point.