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Daoud Kuttab

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Gingrich Contradicts Israeli Government Position

Posted: 12/14/11 08:53 AM ET

September 9, 1993

Yasser Arafat
Chairman
The Palestinian Liberation Organization

Mr. Chairman,
In response to your letter of September 9, 1993, I wish to confirm to you that, in light of the PLO commitments included in your letter, the Government of Israel has decided to recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people and commence negotiations with the PLO within the Middle East peace process.

Yitzhak Rabin
Prime Minister of Israel

The above letter from the Israeli prime minister was part of the mutual recognition between Israel and the PLO which ushered in the Oslo Accords signed in the White House lawn September 13, 1993. The Palestinian people sought and received recognition with many sacrifices. Negating or denying the existence of the Palestinian people after government of the state of Israel recognized it shows how low US election fever has reached.

While Newt Gingrich's comments to a Jewish media outlet that Palestinians are an invented people was pretty bad, what was worse is what happened (or didn't happen) afterwards.

The statement made on the eve of the pre-Iowa Republican caucuses brought immediate response from Palestinians. PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi called the statement "ignorant and racist," and questioned whether someone making such a statement has what it takes to become the next president of the United States of America. Other Palestinian officials correctly identified that the statement is a green light to Israelis to carry out ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.

When ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Republican nominees during the Iowa debate to comment on the statement, no one would deal directly with it. Republicans seeking the office of the presidency were tripping over each other as to who can show more support to Israel. No one even tried to acknowledge the existence of Palestinians.

Perhaps the least damaging statement came from congressman Ron Paul, who quipped that if Palestinians were invented, so was Israel. Everyone one else reiterated their total unequivocal and non-negotiable support for America's 'ally' Israel. If they had a problem with the 'invention' statement, it was that it might not have been very diplomatic!! Mitt Romney, the other leading Republican contender, who wants to move the US embassy immediately to Jerusalem the day he becomes president, said that he would have 'contacted' the Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu before making such a controversial statement. Others agreed about the tactic but none dealt with the substance.

When it came the time for Newt Gingrich, he not only stood by his statement but added more. Stereotyping an entire nation, he called Palestinians "terrorists" and claimed wrongly that Palestinian textbooks teach hatred to Jews. He also claimed wrongly that the US government funds the printing of what he claimed to be hate-filled books.

While Israeli and US officials were quiet on the subject and major American politicians historians and thinkers were nowhere to be found, it took a self-proclaimed pro-Israel American Jewish writer to bust this bubble.

Writing in the NY Times, Thomas Friedman denounced this hypocritical love fest for the Jewish votes saying that this "competition" to grovel for Jewish votes -- by outloving Israel -- takes Republicans "to a new low. He called such action "loving Israel to death, literally."

Friedman explains that if Palestinians were not a nation then the US nominee is either supporting an apartheid system, ethnic cleansing of Palestinians or laying the foundation for a binational state. Concluding: is this being pro-Israel?

Speaking in front of Republican voters, the statements made by Gingrich and the other nominees brought warm applause from the audience. While we may analyze Republican nominee statements as political pandering paid for by AIPAC lobbyists, this applause by a totally gullible and easily swayed American voting crowd is probably the scariest part of this sad incident.

 

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