Palestinian national identity as it currently is recognized was a reaction to the creation of Israel and most prominently the 1967 war when Israel captured territory controlled by Egypt and Jordan. Newt Gingrich is under fire for stating this truth.
It doesn’t really change the equation on the ground, and there is an inexorable march towards Palestinians having a state in some portion of that former Egyptian and Jordanian territory, the questions being boundaries and militarization.
The importance of Gingrich’s comment was that it skewered a false historical narrative which dominates the international debate and is used for the demonization of Israel and its chief supporter, the United States.
Newt was absolutely correct to say enough already with the falsehood. If it upset the Palestinians, well too bad. It’s about time a prominent political figure in the United States didn’t just voice support for Israel but did so in a historically accurate manner which addressed the false Palestinian narrative of perpetual victimization.
The Palestinian issue also gave Newt what may turn out to be his most important moment in any debate, aligning himself with Ronald Reagan in refusing to be timid in the politically correct propaganda war being waged against us.
Dave Weigel saw what ensued as the winning moment for Newt:
His last full-on grapple with Romney came when the former governor attacked him, in a sort of more-in-sorrow-than-anger way, for saying that the Palestinians were an “invented people.” That, said Romney, was complicating things for Israelis.
“The Israelis are getting rocketed every day,” snorted Gingrich. “We’re not making life more difficult. The Obama administration is making life more difficult.” Plus, he was right on the facts. “Palestinian did not become a common term until after 1977.” That’s the sort of knowledge-bomb that Republicans dream of dropping on Obama—they feel like this is right, but here’s a candidate who can say so.
And then Gingrich closed the loop.
“I’m a Reaganite,” he said. “I’m proud to be a Reaganite. Even at the point of causing some confusion with the timid.”
Who was “the timid?” Whoever viewers thought it should be. Obama. Romney. The media. All of them, as far as they’re concerned, would lose in a showdown with Newt Gingrich. And this is how he won the debate.
Update: See my prior post, What If Palestinians Were Settlers?, for a history of the family of prominent anti-Israel Palestinian-American law professor George Bisharat. While Bisharat writes moving articles about the loss of his ancestral home in Jerusalem, in fact his family was not indigenous to Jerusalem or even any part of what now is Israel.