As each election approaches, few candidates miss making a trek to worship at the altar of the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC). There they pay homage, hoping to be anointed with the generous largess that that organization dispenses, mainly through its many fallen angels.
The most recent pilgrim to this unholy site is Republican presidential candidate wannabe Newt Gingrich, serial adulterer, egomaniac and blowhard extraordinaire. There, bowing before one of the gods of the almighty dollar, he verbalized what his fellow worshippers have vaguely hinted at, but always practiced. Said the adoring Mr. Gingrich: “Remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman empire.” He further expounded: “I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people.”
Mr. Gingrich chooses to ignore that this ‘non-state’ is referenced in the Old Testament.
The following day, Mr. Gingrich defended his words. “Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth. These people are terrorists.”
Mr. Gingrich is not known for his thoughtful considerations of the issues facing society today. Nor is he noted for his honesty and integrity. One can remember his nearly-hysterical indignation, calling for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton due to his adulterous affair with Monica Lewinsky, while Mr. Gingrich himself was cheating on wife number two with the woman who currently fulfills the role as the third Mrs. Gingrich.
Perhaps, for a moment, we can talk about terrorists. One definition of terrorism is this: “The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.”
Would Mr. Gingrich consider it terrorism for an occupying army to shoot at unarmed farmers, include men, women and children, as they work in their fields? Would he consider it terrorism to bomb entire cities in retaliation for a small, ineffectual act of aggression? Would he call the bulldozing of homes, and the destruction of cisterns that the population relies on for both crop irrigation and drinking water, to be acts of terrorism? How might he term the destruction of the olive trees, some hundreds of years old, on which the population relies for its livelihood?
Let us look at a few facts:
– In October of 2005, it was reported ‘that the Israeli military blocked Palestinians from driving on the main artery through the West Bank.’ Israeli human rights groups called this a total ‘road apartheid.’
– The Israeli military is authorized to prevent Palestinians from using roads used by Israelis in the West Bank, which belongs to the Palestinians.
– United Nations Resolutions concerning Israel:
• 592: Strongly deplores the killing of Palestinian students at Bir Zeit University by Israeli Troops.
• 605: Strongly deplores Israel’s policies and practices denying the human rights of Palestinians.
• 607: Calls on Israel not to deport Palestinians and strongly requests it to abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention (which relates to the protection of civilians in time of war).
• 608: Deeply regrets that Israel has defied the United Nations and deported Palestinian civilians.
• 672: Condemns Israel for violence against Palestinians at the Haram as-Sahrif/Temple Mount.
• 673: Deplores Israel’s refusal to cooperate with the United Nations.
Terrorism is, indeed, very much a part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it is the Israelis who are the terrorists, not the Palestinians.
Mr. Gingrich seems to believe in the typical U.S. mantra that ‘might makes right;’ after all, the Native Americans were no match for their invading conquerors two centuries ago, and U.S. history often lauds how the early settlers created such a marvelous civilization where there was previously no one at all. Oh, by the way, there were countless numbers of people there, but since they were in the way, the U.S. just killed them.
It appears that this is the model that the eloquent Mr. Gingrich foresees for Palestine: another nation, one that happens to have become rich due to the U.S.’s bizarre generosity to it, wants to inhabit their land, so let’s all pretend that the Palestinians don’t really exist. At least seven hundred thousand of them were violently, many murderously, displaced in 1947 and 1948, and since it worked so well then, what are we waiting for? After all, they aren’t a ‘real’ people.
One hopes that Mr. Gingrich’s ignorant and racist statements will not usher in a new epoch of hostility against the Palestinians in the hallowed halls of Congress. None of the motley multitude of people who are currently vying for the Tea Party anointment of GOP presidential candidate has yet criticized Mr. Gingrich. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney offered a tepid comment on his statements: “I happen to agree with most of what [Gingrich] said, except by going out and saying the Palestinians are an invented people.” Another pilgrim at the AIPAC altar. A quick check of several news outlets found no other candidates commenting.
President Barack Obama has hardly been a friend to the Palestinian people. He vetoed a United Nations resolution condemning additional settlement activity, and continues to support the completely nonsensical concept of a brokered peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. And he has vowed to veto Palestine’s request for membership at the Security Council.
Despite this, at least he appears to recognize, at least in theory if not in practice, the right of the Palestinian people to retain some of the land that was stolen from them during the last sixty-plus years, and that continues to be stolen from them. His various opponents, seeking to move into the White House in January of 2013, do not seem to have this same belief. This is all the more reason why the Palestinian people are right to take their quest to the United Nations, since the U.S. is, and always has been, sleeping with the enemy. If Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Romney or any of the gaggle now drowning themselves in tea, were to become president, the results for the Mideast would be disastrous.
Robert Fantina is author of Desertion and the American Soldier: 1776–2006