Washington Actions on Palestine don’t Differ from Gingrich’s Words

Newt Gingrich has been trying for the monetary backing and votes of Jewish Americans and Christian Zionists by taking up the positions of the Israeli far Right. He promises to move the US embassy to Jerusalem (disputed territory under international law) just because right wing Jewish nationalists insist that all of Jerusalem belongs to them and because they intend gradually to ethnically cleanse the Palestinians from the city.

And, now he has begun talking like an Israeli propagandist from the 1950s, saying that there had never been a Palestinian state in history, that the 11 million Palestinians are an invented nation, that there is no difference in the attitude of the PLO and Hamas toward Israel, and that all Palestinians are terrorists. His remarks have been condemned by other politicians as extreme, but that is hypocritical. America acts as Gingrich talks.

It is important to note that only a minority of Jewish Americans agrees with Gingrich. Some 37 percent of American Jews say in polling that they don’t have a strong attachment to Israel (there is no reason for them to; they aren’t from there). Two-thirds of Jewish Americans would trade land for peace in the Mideast. Jewish Americans have often been the social conscience of America in the past century, and the vast majority of them would not dream of voting for someone like Gingrich, who is all about giving more to the super-wealthy and taking away things from the workers. Gingrich’s positions are not meant to appeal to Jews in general, but rather to a handful of American billionaires, some of them Christian Zionists and others Jewish hyper-nationalists.

Gingrich’s assertions about the poor Palestinians have been refuted by two generations of scholarship by academic historians who actually study Palestinians in Arabic, and Gingrich has in any case made his allegations a simple-minded way that makes them hard to take seriously.

The important thing to realize is that Gingrich is not an outlier in Washington, and that the US government consistently acts as though it believes exactly what Gingrich says.

I don’t mean to be unfair to Barack Obama, who came into office with, I think, generally benign intentions toward the Palestinians. But that is sort of like swimming into shark-infested waters with generally benign intentions toward minnows. Obama tried hard to set up some meetings, which the Likud Party torpedoed by insisting on expanding squatter settlements on the territory over which they were negotiating. The Palestinian leadership for once declined to offer a fig leaf to this naked theft of their own territory, and sensibly decided that far right wing prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu is not serious about negotiating with Palestinians. (And, indeed, why bother, since they don’t exist).

But after some efforts, behind which he never put his own prestige and in which he never intervened with the office of the presidency, Obama gradually started giving The Likud Speech, which American politicians believe is central to raising funds from Jewish Americans for their campaigns. Aside from pressing for negotiations, and sometimes snubbing Netanyahu, Obama has been a helpless giant in the face of the settler-industrial complex, and in recent months he has allowed it to occupy his rhetoric.

How many tens of thousands of further Israeli squatters are now residing on Palestinian territory compared to January of 2009? How many Palestinian civilians (including children) have Israeli forces killed out of disregard for the lives of non-combatants? How many Palestinian mosques and other properties have been attacked or burned by violent Israeli squatters? How many Palestinians have been evicted from their homes? For some ( of these mostly untold stories on this side of Atlantic, see this site) and that of the invaluable B’Tselem.

If you believed what Gingrich says he believes, wouldn’t you stand by and watch all this happen without lifting a finger to stop it? And isn’t that exactly what the US has done? So what is the difference, practically speaking, for the average Palestinian being deprived of life, liberty and happiness by a brutal and grasping Israeli colonial occupation– what is the real difference between Gingrich’s honestly expressed views and those of mainstream Washington?

The US government is spineless before right wing Israeli provocations. Did Israel from 2007 want to impose an illegal blockade on Palestinian children and other non-combatants in the Gaza Strip, putting them on “a diet” and keeping them on the edge of humanitarian disaster? Wikileaks revealed that the State Department did no more than tut tut at these war crimes. The US government has responded far more vigorously to college students downloading some music files than it has to Israeli squatters stealing much of the West Bank’s best land.

So, maybe it is for the best that Gingrich put aside the polite language of negotiation and peace process and Palestinian state, and told it like it is. He doesn’t believe that the Palestinians have any legitimate claims at all, and that is that. In which case their children can at will be thrown into food insecurity, and their land can be stolen from them, and they can be chased off into the great inchoate mass of “Arabs” with no bad conscience.

As for the substance of what Gingrich said, it is first of all stupid, and second of all wrong.

It is stupid because all nations are invented, and they have all been invented in the past couple hundred years. There were peoples in pre-modern times, but in the absence of printing, literacy, modern communications, and the new post-empire model of the Enlightenment state with its educational institutions, they weren’t really nations. Those who supposedly spoke a common language couldn’t even understand one another across regions (north and south Italy, e.g.) As Eric Hobsbawm observed, people think that nations created states, but in fact states created nations. States standardized languages, e.g.

So the Palestinians aren’t more of an invented nation than anyone else.

Gingrich said that there had never been a Palestinian state in history. If you want to play the romantic nationalist game of finding ancient forebears for modern nations, it would be easy in the case of the Palestinians, who were mentioned by the ancient Egyptians and Assyrians. But today’s Palestinians are equally descended from the ancient Canaanites and as well as from the ancient Jews.

If Gingrich meant to argue that Palestine was never an administrative unit of Muslim states, this is incorrect— under the Mamluks it was one of the five districts of Syria and had its capital at Jerusalem.

Palestine was a known place in medieval Islam. People referred to it as a place. It was sometimes the name of an administrative unit. There are coins stamped Filastin. People who lived in that area were Filastinis or Palestinians. Over time, 80% of them came to be Muslims, with the rest Christians. Between 1000 AD and 1800 AD there were very few Jews in geographical Palestine (Bonaparte found 3,000 or so as I remember).

That Palestinians were part of the Ottoman Empire is irrelevant to whether they are a nation or not. You could make all the same assertions about Albanians that Gingrich made about Palestinians. There was no Albanian state in antiquity. They were ruled by the Byzantine, Bulgarian, Serbian and Ottoman Empires. There was no Albanian province under the Ottomans.

But Gingrich does not assert that the Albanians are not a nation. It is not necessary to denationalize the Albanians. None of Gingrich’s campaign contributors wants to make the Albanians stateless and homeless and steal all their land and property.

If you want a “national” precedent for the Palestinians, in the 18th century when the Ottoman Empire had largely decentralized, Jazzar Pasha ruled Palestine from Akka and successfully fought off Napoleon Bonaparte.

As for Palestinians being “Arabs,” actually no Palestinians would have called themselves Arabs in the nineteenth century, except Bedouins. The word then for the most part meant pastoral nomad. The idea of a pan-Arab nation only arises in the 20th century, and it hasn’t been notably successful. The only thing “Arabs” have in common is that they speak Arabic. But it is arbitrary that we call all forms of Arabic “Arabic,” but we do not speak of Romance as a language. The difference between Moroccan spoken “Arabic” and the “Arabic” spoken in southern Iraq is greater than the difference between Spanish and Portuguese.

The British Empire conquered Palestine during WW I and the League of Nations created a Mandate of Palestine, which it scheduled to become a nation-state, as with Syria and Iraq. The only reason Palestine did not is that the British derailed the League of Nation mandate for Palestine by promoting the immigration of European Jews, who were meant to be imperial allies (as the French promoted Maronite Christians in Lebanon, a country they carved off from Syria for imperial purposes).

The European Jews ultimately formed a third of the population in Mandate Palestine, and at the end of WW II, they became militant, formed militias, assassinated officials, engaged in terrorism, and ultimately chased the British out and ethnically cleansed some 700,000 Palestinians, allowing them to create the state of Israel. The 1948 war did not necessitate the ethnic cleansing. Jordanian forces never threatened to come into the territory designated for Israel in the UNGA partition plan.

Parts of Mandate Palestine — Gaza and the West Bank– escaped the Israelis’ control in 1948. But in 1967 the Israelis conquered these remaining Palestinian territories and have ruled them militarily ever since (they rule Gaza by controlling its air, sea and land borders and occasionally bombing or invading it). Contrary to the law of occupation, the Israelis have been settling on and stealing Palestinian land in the West Bank on a large scale ever since.

The Palestinians who were forced north to Lebanon still for the most part live in refugee camps. Their accent is immediately discernible. They cannot own property and cannot easily get a work permit. They are in a set of large jails. They have no hope. They will not be given Lebanese citizenship because the French set Lebanon up as a country of religious communities, with the Christians dominant. For 300,000 or 400,000 Sunni Muslims to be given citizenship in a country of 4 million would shift power decisively toward the Sunnis, disadvantaging the wealthy and powerful Christian minority and the Shiite plurality.

So it isn’t true that the Palestinians are monochrome “Arabs” who, having been stripped of their property by the Israelis and expelled from their homes, could easily just be Arab somewhere else.

The Israelis committed a tort against the Palestinians when they ethnically cleansed them in 1947-48, for which they have never paid a dime in compensation. The Israelis continue to keep millions of Palestinians stateless and without meaningful human rights, under brutal military occupation.

The complicity of official Washington in this ongoing crime against a whole people angers the Muslim world and causes many of America’s problems with the region, as Stephen Walt points out.

Gingrich’s remarks were headlined at Aljazeera and even as we speak have stirred a wave of anger at the United States. But it is not because he has put forward a new American position. It is because he has confirmed what the Arab public had perceived as US policy all along. The US is an accomplice in the erasure of a whole people, in keeping them in an estate. of statelessness, only a little elevated from that of slavery, and in helping further expropriate them on a daily basis.

And that, folks, is What Went Wrong.

Posted in Uncategorized | 52 Responses | Print |

52 Responses

  1. “The European Jews ultimately formed a third of the population in Mandate Palestine, and at the end of WW II, they became militant, formed militias, assassinated officials, engaged in terrorism, and ultimately chased the British out and ethnically cleansed some 700,000 Palestinians, allowing them to create the state of Israel. The 1948 war did not necessitate the ethnic cleansing. Jordanian forces never threatened to come into the territory designated for Israel in the UNGA partition plan.

    Parts of Mandate Palestine — Gaza and the West Bank– escaped the Israelis’ control in 1948. But in 1967 the Israelis conquered these remaining Palestinian territories and have ruled them militarily ever since (they rule Gaza by controlling its air, sea and land borders and occasionally bombing or invading it). Contrary to the law of occupation, the Israelis have been settling on and stealing Palestinian land in the West Bank on a large scale ever since.”

    You say the above as if Israel is to blame for all of it. The people in the mandate didn’t form militias just for the heck of it, they formed most of them after the Arab Revolt, where they saw that they needed to protect themselves.
    link to en.wikipedia.org
    link to en.wikipedia.org

    You pretend that the entire 700000 people left because of Israel, while there is proof that it was Arab leaders who threatened or told people to leave with the promise of getting their homes back and more. There is proof that in some communities Jews even tried to encourage Arabs to stay.
    You also seem to forget that Israel, being only a few days old was invaded by all its neighbors. You seem to be oblivious to that fact. You seem very hostile towards Israel and you do the exact thing you ask your own politicians not to do, which is to see things from more than one side.

    You also seem to forget the 6-700000 Jews forcefully expelled from their home countries, Arab countries.

    You pretend that Israel wanted to deal with Gaza and the West Bank. The West Bank was owned by Jordan, who apparently are very happy to have gotten rid of 1000000 Palestinians, same with Gaza, but the Egyptians instead. They never wanted their territories back. It was an unforeseen event from a preventive first-strike on Egypt, which yet again pitted Israel against several countries at a time.

    Like I have said before, most of your articles are well-written and are mostly written in a very neutral tone. Your articles about Israel are very hostile and very one-sided.
    I think you need to start reading a bit more on the other side of the fence, otherwise, you’ll end up just like one of the drones you try so hard to educate with this blog.

    • Arab leaders did not call for Palestinians to leave and we have never found evidence for that.

      The Stern gang was not reacting to the 1936-1939 Palestinian revolt, provoked by British immigration and favoritism policies.

      The forced emigration of Arab Jews to Israel after 1948 is irrelevant to what happened in Palestine 1947-48. This fallacy is known as anachronism.

      It isn’t that I don’t read widely, it is that I know what parts of Zionist historiography have been knocked down.

      I like Israel and Israelis. The Likud not so much.

      • In what sense can one call the Arab Jewish migration to Israel “forced emigration” when
        (and correct me if I’m wrong)

        1- This emigration was the ultimate goal of Zionist organizations at the time and in many cases, it happened with the aide of Zionists actively lobbying local rulers and kings to “allow” this emigration, and offerring financial rewards to the emigrant for moving to Israel.

        2- Some Arab countries in fact used legal means to discourage and limit the emigration of Jews since they saw it as the continuation of the Zionist project, and when they finally gave in, they did so reluctantly.

        3- In the French colony of Algeria, Jews where automatically granted French nationality, and were from a legal standpoint effectively equivalent to the French occupiers in matters of legal discrimination against Muslim Algerians. The gradual outflow of Algerian Jews in the 1950’s should therefore be seen in the context of the Algerian revolution against French occupation.

        4- Unlike the expulsion of Palestinians, in the Jewish emigration there were no organized military units chasing people through the desert, or into the sea, there where no loud-speakers on the back of trucks playing sounds of screaming women and children to scare civilians to flee their homes, and there were no paramilitary units exterminating entire villages overnight ahead of military invasion.

        The Jews for the most part grabbed their tickets, and (when they had one), their European passports, went to the port and got on their ships; over a span of several years.

        And Netanyahu somehow has the chutzpah to call this the other refugee problem in 1948.

      • You can point me out if I’m wrong, but I have read in several places that in some places the Arab leadership had promised people that if they went, they would come back to their houses with no problems.

        Of course not all the gangs were founded because of the Arab revolts or protests. I didn’t say that. My point was that they didn’t just appear out of nowhere to kill Arabs. In most cases it was done to protect themselves from Arabs. As you rightly showed however, some gangs later became much more offensive in their tactics.

        Calling it irrelevant is what’s wrong, because it was a direct cause and effect relationship. Israel declares independence -> neighboring countries attack Israel, Jews get expelled from countries.

        My point is that when you talk about Israel, and I’m talking about most of the ones I have read. You usually have a negative tone towards it. And it’s not just the Likud Party, but Israel in general.

        While I don’t agree with Israel’s current policies (which I believe will ultimately lead to the fall of Israel), I do think that people are very one-sided in this conflict – on both aisles.

        I really like your articles, and I’m starting to believe you actually do not understand it. That when you just point out one side doing wrong in this conflict, without pointing out the other side, it will automatically be seen as just that one side doing wrong.

        Apart from that, I think people should start thinking about solutions more than the past.

        I had a good conversation with someone a long time ago.
        But in short:
        – No way to get all Palestinians their homes back, so monetary compensation instead.
        – Back to 67 borders, with some landswaps.
        – Militias need to disarm
        – Israel needs to open up borders.
        – UN needs to take over Jerusalem as a cultural city, managed jointly with Israel and future Palestinian state
        – Safe tunnel needs to be built from West Bank to Gaza
        – Joint border controls.

        and so on.

        I believe these touch on most of the points on both sides.
        It’s unfortunate today’s leaders only see the past and do not look towards the future. I’d like to encourage people to think like this rather than look at the past.

        Suggest solutions, don’t go and dig out old problems.

        • You may have read in several places that Arab leaders asked Palestinians to leave, but it isn’t true and there is no evidence for it. It doesn’t even make any sense. Why would you want out of the way the only population that might support you?

          Your plan for peace is quickly becoming impossible because of the determined colonization of the West Bank by the Israelis.

          You are living in a weird American bubble where no criticism of Israel at all is typically heard in the media, so my critique of the government’s policy toward the Palestinians sounds unusual or hostile. Read Haaretz and you’ll find Israelis saying all the same things that I do.

    • Quite frankly I am surprised that some still make these outdated arguments in thoughtful intellectual debates. In the last 50 or 60 years it was the rhetoric of propagandists backed by a powerful state of Israel. However, times are changing. It matters nothing to me that Gingrich claims we don’t exist. Just consider those ineffectual rockets landing in southern Israel as falling debris from the sky.

      What I would like to know is what makes a “Jew” a Jew that they can claim a state based on religious identity but don’t have to believe in God or that Moses exists, etc. If, for secular Jews, the claim is not based on God giving the land to the Children of Israel, then what is the claim based on?

      If you find you argument gravitating towards “we won a war, tough luck” then be prepared for the next 10 to 20 years when the balance of power will shift to the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.

      Finally, you say militias were formed to protect themselves. Why did they come to Palestine in the first place in huge numbers to displace (and ethnically cleanse) the indigenous population?

    • I at first thought the Newt’s comments trivial since all nations are invented. You go further and claim the comment is stupid. Now I think the Newt’s comment is trivial, stupid, but more importantly, intentionally aggressive and offered as a justification for violence.

  2. Excellent, scholarly piece! Thank you.
    Bet you no MSM journalist/editor would mention Dr. Cole’s piece, let along reproducing it.
    The MSM is monopolized by stenographers. That’s destroying our republic.

  3. Juan. During Obama’s campaign for the Presidency in 2008, Obama went before AIPAC and told the cheering throng that Jerusalem would always be Israel undivided capital. Obama has not changed on bit, nor has he been carried along in the Washington flow. What has changed was a shift by the public to a clearer perception of who and what Obama is. He is no longer the man who deserves a Nobel Peace Prize just for being elected. That prize, which he clearly did not deserve, was based on hope and perception obsured by hope. Nothing more, except maybe the exit of Bush.

  4. “So the Palestinians aren’t more of an invented nation than anyone else.”

    As Prof. Cole points out, nations have created themselves or been created by others throughout history. Israel is a prime example!
    But the symmetry should be pointed out–fundamentalist Israelis and their supporters say that Palestinians are an invented nation and have no right to their own country, and fundamentalist Palestinians and their supporters say that Jews have no history in the area and have no right to a nation there (or even to be there at all). It should be obvious that both are wrong.
    The question that somebody should ask Newt is: what does he see as the ultimate outcome? Will there be a single-state solution with Jews losing out to the demographic time-bomb? Will Palestinians (or whatever he chooses to call the Arabs who live there) remain stateless and subjugated? Will they be subjected to ethnic cleansing and be forced to live elsewhere?
    At least Netanyahu gives lip service to the two-state solution (on his terms, of course, with the Palestinian state virtually powerless). Newt as usual doesn’t seem to have faced up to the implications of what he says.
    As far as Obama, let’s remember that when he called for negotiations for a two-state solution based on mutually agreed changes to the 1967 borders (which has been official US policy for 40 years), every Republican and some Democrats accused him of throwing Israel under the bus.

    • There is no symmetry. Where else in the world does “having a history” in some land in the distant past give one national rights to that land over its current and long time inhabitants?

      Even assuming that Jews are a race (which is exactly what the Nazis wanted us to believe), how does that give them rights over a land some of whose inhabitants where of that race a long long time ago? Do the British have the right to establish a national homeland in Germany because the Saxons came from there, or in France because some of their ancestors were Franks?
      Do all Aryan peoples in Europe, the Americas, and India have a right to establish a national homeland in southern Russia because that’s where they supposedly came from thousands of years ago? Why don’t native Americans have a right to china and eastern Russia because they supposedly originated there 12000 years ago?

      However, Jews claiming “national rights” to Palestine is in fact more like Japanese Buddhists claiming national rights to India (because Siddharta was from India) or like Mexican Catholics claiming the right to establish a “national homeland” in Italy because of the historical connection of “The Catholic People” to the Vatican, or like african American protestants from Georgia claiming national rights to Germany because Protestantism bagan there.

      Heck if you are right, why shouldn’t all of us who believe in the values of Democracy, pack up and go colonize Greece and establish a national homeland for “The Democratic People”?!

      • “There is no symmetry. Where else in the world does ‘having a history’ in some land in the distant past give one national rights to that land over its current and long time inhabitants?”

        There is symmetry. Some Jews and their supporters claim Palestinians basically don’t exist. Some Palestinians and their supporters claim Jews have no history in the area. Both are very wrong. If Palestinians and their supporters want to say, as you do, that the Jews have a history there but it does not entitle them to a nation there, then let them make that case. But to claim that there is no such history undermines their case, as Newt’s saying the Palestinians are an invented people weakens his case for…for what? For permanent Israeli control of the whole area? As I said, I’m not sure what the endgame he visualizes is.

        • Nobody claims that Jews “have no history in the area.” That is ridiculous. It is in the Qur’an.

          The question is the relevance of an ancient history in the area, claimed by quite different modern people from elsewhere, to Palestinian rights to their own family homes.

    • The Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe have no history in Palestine. As for Jews in general, they were no more represented in Palestine 2 to 3 thousand years ago than were a number of other people and rulers snd kingdoms. Israel exists only because the Zionists ethnically cleansed the indigenous Palestinian population in 1948 as a result of a half century of prior intention to ethnically cleanse the indigenous population. Ethnic cleansing is a war crime and a crime against humanity, and no exceptions are made because people sharing the same religion had some common ancestors living in a certain area 2000 years ago.

      • I’m unclear why the Ashkenazi Jews have no history in the area while the Sephardic Jews do. Where did the Ashkenazi come from–Mars?
        Israel exists because of a 1948 UN resolution, despite its “neighbors” who did not accept that resolution and immediately tried to “ethnically cleanse” the area by invading and driving all Jews into the sea. Pre-1948, the ethnic enmity was mutual but not universal: there were Arabs who wanted the Jews out just as there were Jews who wanted the Arabs out, and there were those on both sides who wanted to co-exist.

        • “I’m unclear why the Ashkenazi Jews have no history in the area while the Sephardic Jews do. Where did the Ashkenazi come from–Mars?”

          Where did Filipino Christians come from? That’s right. From the Philippines. Not from Vatican or Bethlehem.

          Where did Chinese Evangelicals come from? From China.

          Where did Iranian Muslims come from? Iran, not Saudi Arabia.

          Most often, it is the religion that “moves” from place to place. Not entire peoples.

  5. The damage has been done. This is yet another reason for arab people, as newt puts it, to hate American intervention in Mideast.

    Great article Prof. Juan but unfortunately your voice is not strong enough to fix the damage done.

    • Fixing the damage done

      Tariq, I can appreciate your cynicism. Some things can, in fact, never be “fixed” – just outlived or outgrown. The backlog of hatred that Israel is building for itself – and possibly, for Jews in general – will fuel the next century or more of “anti-semitism”. Moreover, the hatred will have been earned, rather than just being the result of vague feelings of envy by lower middle class goyim.

      • Good point.That may be the ultimate reason for the Christian Fundamentalists fanatical “support” of Israel!

  6. The US government is spineless before right wing Israeli provocations. Did Israel from 2007 want to impose an illegal blockade on Palestinian children and other non-combatants in the Gaza Strip, putting them on “a diet” and keeping them on the edge of humanitarian disaster? Wikileaks revealed that the State Department did no more than tut tut at these war crimes. The US government has responded far more vigorously to college students downloading some music files than it has to Israeli squatters stealing much of the West Bank’s best land.

    Just a quibble in a very good and informative post.

    The US government under Obama has been far more complicit with the Israeli diet on Gaza than doing no more than tut tut at it.

    First, Obama rhetorically defends it.

    Second, US pressure, not Israeli, has produced Egyptian cooperation with the policy – even after the fall of Mubarak, and if the SCAS gets its way, even after an elected parliament and government take power and gain authority over issues other than Egypt’s policy with respect to Israel.

    Third, US pressure again, not Israeli, has caused Turkey to stop actively opposing the siege.

  7. “Some 37 percent of American Jews say in polling that they don’t have a strong attachment to Israel (there is no reason for them to; they aren’t from there).

    I don’t know how this question was put. what was the context?

    I have never been to Israel, but, living in Canada, where the deputy immigration minister of Canada just prior to the holocaust was asked how many German Jews would Canada take in replied, “none is too many”.

    That’s why I am glad there is a country that won’t say that to me, if and when it comes to that.

    • Some one million Israelis live outside Israel for various reasons, some of them because the lack of regional security is nervous-making. They have been given refuge in Canada and the US for the most part. Why you think a country in so fragile a security position as Israel is a potential refuge for Canadians is beyond me. It looks to me like it is the other way around.

      But even granting your premise, it wouldn’t require keeping the Palestinians stateless and without rights. Or if it did require that, it should raise ethical issues for you.

      • The Jews in German, for instance, achieved high positions in Germany in the nineteenth century.

        At this time, Canada is a safer place. that can change.

        any country, including Canada, might become a dangerous place for Jews. All it would take is the right conditions. I don’t believe that’s any different now than it has ever been.

        re ethical issues… I want the Israelis to go back to the pre 67 borders, to stop making war on their neighbours; I am unable to express it properly, but the Palestinians need to be assisted, and treated fairly; I abhor the treatment of Palestinians by Israel.

        Thanks for your work.

    • It will only “come to that” because of the belligerence and unfairness of the Israeli governments actions.
      As for quoting pre-WW2 ministers, even the USA had this policy, which is hardly the 2011 situation. Many present-day Jews in Canada, USA, Europe are now in positions of power and influence, and they admit that their success has been possible because of the laws in those democratic lands. Israel is certainly not as attractive for most Jews in the diaspora.

    • Second attempt to respond – last disappeared!

      link to desip.igc.org

      I quoted last time but this time I will paraphrase. The reason that post-war emigration of displaced persons (mainly Jews) to the US, UK and Canada was restricted was that the Zionist movement in the US lobbied against it. They argued that they could get money from rich American Jews for the Zionist project in Palestine if Jews migrated there but not if they migrated to the US.

  8. History Professor Newt has allied himself with his state of Georgia and Andy
    Jackson declaring the Cherokee Nation null and void, depriving them of their
    ancestral land, and exiling them to become a diaspora among the “Indian”
    (Native American) peoples. I wonder how many America Jews and the American
    public in general would subscribe to this?

    Mel Kinder, B.A. Middle East History, UCLA 1965

  9. Prof. Cole:

    While Israeli propaganda has couched the debate as “disputed territories”, under international law East Jerusalem is occupied territory. The French translation in UN resolutions left out the definite article allowing the Zionists to make it sound like there is a genuine dispute. Furthermore, the overwhelming majority of nations refuse to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Similarly the same international majority recognizes east Jerusalem as occupied Arab territory.

  10. For a historian, Gingrich certainly doesn’t read much history. He seems never to have heard of Khalidi,for example — not to mention all the so-called “new” Israeli historians.

    Thanks for this, Juan. It goes into my private collection of “best articles” on Israeli-Palestinian history.

  11. This is excellent, Juan. It is disheartening that Gingrich was the most coherent and spoke with more confidence and authority and was declared the winner immediately afterwards when he was so inaccurate, arrogant, pandering, dangerous and inhumane.

    • That’s all that it’s about with the US media: performance.

      Gingrich spoke with confidence and authority. He was rude to the network ‘talking heads.’ Did he make sense? Well, he sounded confident. Were his observations factual? Were his opinions based upon reality? Well, that’s for the viewers to research for themselves, should they choose to do so. Gingrich won! And it’s all about the horse race. Everything else is boring wonkery.

  12. Excellent post over all, but I just have a couple of quibbles:

    1) When you mention the ancient precursors to the Palestinians, I think it’s important to realize that the Canaanites are not really ancestral to the current Palestinians in any meaningful cultural sense. The Zionist project operates by creating an illusion of cultural equivalence between an Iron Age people and a modern one, but finding even less credible cultural forebears for the Palestinians does nothing to help the Palestinian cause, and provides fodder for those like Gingrich who would like to delegitimize the Palestinians as a people.

    2) As I understand it, the Arab armies that invaded Palestine in 1948 did indeed seek to end the existence of the Jewish state. Again, I may simply be repeating the history that I’ve been raised with as an American Jew, and if I am I’d be interested if you could point me to some reliable sources on the matter. Thanks!

    Otherwise, great post.

    • Lebanese, Palestinians and many Sephardic Jews have a common genetic marker which is distinctive, so they are all descended from peoples living in the ancient Levant, whether you want to call them Canaanites or whatever. Canaan is attested back to the 4th millennium so it is as good as anything. The marker is the same across the three, showing that they are all essentially cousins. See this study.. Ashkenazi Jews in recent studies appear to have a much smaller Palestinian heritage than was earlier thought and may mainly be the descendents of Italian converts. Likewise ancient Phoenician and ancient Hebrew are variants of Canaanite, virtually the same language named differently according to geography (as with Persian and Tajik).

      No, King Abdallah I appears to have made a deal with the Yishuv not to attack them; he just wanted the West Bank and Jerusalem for the Hashemites, and his armies never advanced toward Tel Aviv. The Egyptians in the Negev were badly outgunned and it was never realistic that they should pose a threat to what became Israel proper.

      • You’ll never see this in the MSM either;the stenographers, whose selective inattention is at all times high, remain comfortable in cloud nine.

      • Genetically yes, they’re all descended from ancient Levantine populations (as are Ashkenazis, although probably to a lesser extent). I was referring more to cultural continuity, not genetic continuity; more specifically, I was referring to the invocation of the Jebusites as Palestinian ancestors, used by Yasser Arafat as counter-rhetoric to the Zionist narrative. This sort of thing is common in nationalist rhetoric, but its tendency to equate ancient peoples with modern ones on a one-to-one basis is wrong and leaves itself open to Gingrich-style criticism. The Zionist equation of modern Jews with ancient Israelites on a 1:1 basis is just as intellectually deficient; however, the peoples referring to themselves as Jews have maintained a consistent ideology of continuity with Ancient Israel over the past 2000 years. This makes it easy for Gingrich to point to the more recently constructed Palestinian Arab identity and say “fake,” because he’s not dealing with an audience that understands the socially constructed nature of ALL national identities.

  13. “…Gingrich’s positions are not meant to appeal to Jews in general, but rather to a handful of American billionaires,….”

    Exactly, and haven’t I read somewhere that US elections are nearly always won by the campaign which has spent the most money.

    “It is important to note that only a minority of Jewish Americans agrees with Gingrich”

    I really hope you are right about that, and really hope they start publicly identifying themselves and speaking out, but considering the outright hostility and pressure that Goldstone came under to ‘modify’ his report, the vilification that Falk attracts when he equates Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the Nazis treatment of Jews, and the labelling of anti-semitism which is received by anybody who dares to speak out about the obnoxious activities of Zioniists and Israel I wont hold my breath.

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” — Edmund Burke

    And Gingrich is evil.

  14. Perhaps Gingrich is right in saying there are no Palestinians. There were in the past and there was a Palestine – but continued Israeli seizure and occupation may have made Palestine as a self governing territory impossible. The Palestinians have tried violence, negotiation, even a UN vote to create their own state but all have failed.

    Perhaps time to give up the concept of Palestine. Perhaps it is all Israel, from Sinai to the Jordan. That would make everyone in that area an Israeli citizen. Let us readjust our terminology according to Newt – the Gaza War for instance was not an attack on Palestinians but the bombardment by the IDF of a rebellious Israeli city, much as happens in Syria.

    We could stop calling Israel an apartheid state as well. Apartheid relies on ‘bantustans’, nominally independent homelands for the ethnically different. No Palestine means all live in Israel proper and denial of voting rights, rights of movement and settlement, and family re-unification based on a citizens ethnic background would be closer to a nineteenth century former slave-owning nation.

    The more I think about it, I can’t see much worse for Israel than a couple of million Palestinians insisting on full Israeli citizenship. The “Greater Israel’ have a solution – ethnic cleansing. Gingrich needs to be asked – what happens to the people formerly known as Palestinians?

    • Wow. You may be onto something, Steerpike.

      I can see the US notifying Israel that we’ve accepted that the territory they seized is legitimately theirs. They have their greater Israel.

      Now, what about all of those suffering, starving Israeli citizens in the West Bank and Gaza provinces? They’re cut off from the rest of their homeland – of Israel. Plus, they haven’t been allowed to vote! When will this be remedied?

      And wow! Now the Palestinian Israelis have STANDING in Israeli courts. They can start suing individual settlers and settlements for damage to their property, assault, theft…

      In short, what does the dog do when he actually catches that car?

  15. Hi Prof. Cole,

    Terrific piece. I realize you had to condense to save space, but Hashomer (‘the watchmen’) was founded in 1909, Haganah in 1920 (along with Ta’as which became Israel Military Industries). The significant escalation was in 1936-39 when the British (especially under Wingate) founded the Jewish Supernumerary Police (notrim) and the first counterinsurgency force, the Special Night Squads (Plugot HaLeila HaMeyukhadot). A rise in major attacks on Palestinians also date to this period. 1947 was a major development obviously, with the first air and naval forces, along with the largest scale mobilization of the Haganah (then re-founded as the IDF). But the militancy (in terms of arming the settler society) started a few decades earlier with the Second Aliyah and the rise of the ‘pure settlement’ ideology and the beginning of what would later be called ‘the Iron Wall’, a permanent regime of separation between the settlers and the indigenous Palestinian population.

    I would also challenge the notion that “the 1948 war did not necessitate ethnic cleansing.” Ethically, of course it did not. There is no justifying it no matter the ‘realist’ sophisticated musings of Benny Morris and crew. But settler societies are premised on the elimination of the indigenous populace. If not their physical annihilation and dispersal, then in attempts to remove their indigeneity, as in trying to create the category of ‘Israeli Arab’ or the Stolen Generations in Australia. This is arguably the most significant difference between settler and metropole colonialism which sought to make use of colonized bodies. This is all a little reductive of course, but my two cents on a great article with appreciation for your writing it.

  16. Reasonable historians understand that there are historical facts and historical controversies. Why the Arabs fled Israel is a controversy. There is a lot of evidence that Arab leaders did ask the native population to leave:
    A plethora of evidence exists demonstrating that Palestinians were encouraged to leave their homes to make way for the invading Arab armies. The U.S. Consul­General in Haifa, Aubrey Lippincott, wrote on April 22, 1948, for example, that “local mufti­dominated Arab leaders” were urging “all Arabs to leave the city, and large numbers did so.”

    The Economist, a frequent critic of the Zionists, reported on October 2, 1948: “Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit….It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades.”

    Time’s report of the battle for Haifa (May 3, 1948) was similar: “The mass evacuation, prompted partly by fear, partly by orders of Arab leaders, left the Arab quarter of Haifa a ghost city….By withdrawing Arab workers their leaders hoped to paralyze Haifa.”

    Benny Morris, the historian who documented instances where Palestinians were expelled, also found that Arab leaders encouraged their brethren to leave. Starting in December 1947, he said, “Arab officers ordered the complete evacuation of specific villages in certain areas, lest their inhabitants ‘treacherously’ acquiesce in Israeli rule or hamper Arab military deployments.” He concluded, “There can be no exaggerating the importance of these arly Arab-initiated evacuations in the demoralization, and eventual exodus, of the remaining rural and urban populations” (The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 590).

    The Arab National Committee in Jerusalem, following the March 8, 1948, instructions of the Arab Higher Committee, ordered women, children and the elderly in various parts of Jerusalem to leave their homes: “Any opposition to this order…is an obstacle to the holy war…and will hamper the operations of the fighters in these districts” (Morris, Middle Eastern Studies, January 1986). Morris also documented that the Arab Higher Committee ordered the evacuation of “several dozenvillages, as well as the removal of dependents from dozens more” in April-July 1948. “The invading Arab armies also occasionally ordered whole villages to depart, so as not to be in their way” (The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2004, p. 592).

    Morris also said that in early May units of the Arab Legion reportedly ordered the evacuation of all women and children from the town of Beisan. The Arab Liberation Army was also reported to have ordered the evacuation of another village south of Haifa. The departure of the women and children, Morris says, “tended to sap the morale of the menfolk who were left behind to guard the homes and fields, contributing ultimately to the final evacuation of villages. Such two-tier evacuation-women and children first, the men following weeks later-occurred in Qumiya in the Jezreel Valley, among the Awarna bedouin in Haifa Bay and in various other places.”

    Who gave such orders? Leaders like Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said, who declared: “We will smash the country with our guns and obliterate every place the Jews seek shelter in. The Arabs should conduct their wives and children to safe areas until the fighting has died down.”

    The Secretary of the Arab League Office in London, Edward Atiyah, wrote in his book, The Arabs: “This wholesale exodus was due partly to the belief of the Arabs, encouraged by the boastings of an unrealistic Arabic press and the irresponsible utterances of some of the Arab leaders that it could be only a matter of weeks before the Jews were defeated by the armies of the Arab States and the Palestinian Arabs enabled to re­enter and retake possession of their country.”

    In his memoirs, Haled al Azm, the Syrian Prime Minister in 1948­49, also admitted the Arab role in persuading the refugees to leave:

    Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave. Only a few months separated our call to them to leave and our appeal to the United Nations to resolve on their return.

    “The refugees were confident their absence would not last long, and that they would return within a week or two,” Monsignor George Hakim, a Greek Orthodox Catholic Bishop of Galilee told the Beirut newspaper, Sada al­Janub (August 16, 1948). “Their leaders had promised them that the Arab Armies would crush the ‘Zionist gangs’ very quickly and that there was no need for panic or fear of a long exile.”

    On April 3, 1949, the Near East Broadcasting Station (Cyprus) said: “It must not be forgotten that the Arab Higher Committee encouraged the refugees’ flight from their homes in Jaffa, Haifa and Jerusalem.”

    “The Arab States encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies,” according to the Jordanian newspaper Filastin (February 19, 1949).

    One refugee quoted in the Jordan newspaper, Ad Difaa (September 6, 1954), said: “The Arab government told us: Get out so that we can get in. So we got out, but they did not get in.”

    “The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine and Tel Aviv would be as simple as a military promenade,” said Habib Issa in the New York Lebanese paper, Al Hoda (June 8, 1951). “He pointed out that they were already on the frontiers and that all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw Jews into the Mediterranean….Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine to leave their land, homes and property and to stay temporarily in neighboring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down.”

    Even Jordan’s King Abdullah, writing in his memoirs, blamed Palestinian leaders for the refugee problem:

    The tragedy of the Palestinians was that most of their leaders had paralyzed them with false and unsubstantiated promises that they were not alone; that 80 million Arabs and 400 million Muslims would instantly and miraculously come to their rescue.

    That the Palestinian and Arab leadership has denied Jewish connection to Israel and Jerusalem is not. link to beyondimages.info
    Finally, before Cole said that Jews were descended from the Khazars, now its the Italians. Really, the genetic evidence is clear, Ashkenazi and Sephardic communities have similar genetic backgrounds. link to nytimes.com


    • I printed this because it is an example of the propagandistic use of history that contrasts with professional historians who are trying to figure out what happened.

      The initial claim of Zionist historiography is that the prime minister of Egypt and King Abdallah of Jordan broadcast on the radio governmental appeals for Palestinians to depart the Mandate of Palestine in preparation for the invasion of the Arab armies.

      This allegation is untrue.

      Now you reconfigure a few junior officers on the ground asking a few villagers to move position for tactical reasons into “proof” of the initial, absurd assertion. You pile up small details as though they amount to anything. But they don’t. Your anecdotes don’t account for 700,000 Palestinians being thrown out of their country.

      If you want to see what Morris actually says, see the late Baruch Kimmerling‘s account.

      The form of your “historical” reasoning is precisely the one used by Holocaust deniers– build up a lot of small details and anecdotes and then come around to the big, wholly bizarre conclusion that is at odds with history.

      Here is what Morris, who is quoted above in a dishonest way, actually said as quoted and commented on by Kimmerling:

      ““What the new material shows [– says Morris –] is that there were far more Israeli acts of massacre than I had previously thought. To my surprise, there were also many cases of rape.” After some detailed description of the rape and murder of Palestinian girls, Morris concluded that “because neither the victims nor the rapists liked to report these events, we have to assume that the dozen cases of rape that were reported, which I found, are not the whole story. They are just the tip of the iceberg.” Additionally he found that in twenty-four cases, about 800 Palestinians were massacred under different circumstances. And he added:

      That can’t be accidental. It’s a pattern. Apparently, various officers who took part in the operation understood that the expulsion order they received permitted them to do these deeds in order to encourage the population to take to the roads. The fact is that no one was punished for these acts of murder. Ben-Gurion silenced the matter. He covered up for the officers who did the massacres.

      However, one of the most interesting conclusions of Morris – what brings him closer to my findings – is that

      from April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created.”

      • If you want to know what Morris thinks, read HIS book. Morris believes that the Arab refugee problem is complex and that there are many reasons they left. It is clear that some left voluntarily and some did not.


  17. Thanks Mr. Cole. That’s quite interesting.

    Again, though. Instead of looking at the past.
    It doesn’t matter if the palestinians created their identity half a year ago, it exists now.
    Israel exists now too.
    So we have to work with what is currently there and try to make it better, in baby steps or in giant leaps. Who cares!

    Offer up solutions. The Israeli government needs to realise that a long-term solution needs to be found. An ethical solution, too.
    The PA and Hamas need to start cooperating again so that deals made with one would reflect upon the other.
    Negotiations should be ongoing on all the issues. There should not be prerequisites for negotiations on either side.
    Let Israel build settlements, if the negotiations say they have to be dismantled, so be it.

    Let Hamas shoot rockets, they’re shooting anyway. If after a deal they are still shooting even though Israel is taking care of its side, then there would be problems. But we need solutions.

    This situation is bad for everyone involved.

    By the way I’m from Europe, so it’s the other way around, I see a lot of pro-Palestinian media and very little pro-Israeli media. Most of it is focused on how Israel is depriving Gazans of food and essential materials and it never shows the part where daily rockets are hitting Israel.

    • So your media reports on how Israel keeps the Palestinians under their thumb, and doesn’t report on ‘daily rockets hitting Israel’?

      It must be nice to have a media that reports accurately. Israel is certainly depriving the Palestinians of their human rights, and certainly rockets are not falling on Israel. I don’t understand why that’s a problem for you?

      Thank you for this article, Dr Cole. It’s a shame that the fetish for ‘balance’ that our media insists upon seems to disappear whenever the topic is Israel.

    • I’m confused David. From your post, I gather that if I were to force my way into your home, (wether you are home or not) and I am able to maintain control for some certain time frame, you feel that I become at least in part, the home owner. Is that based on some legal premise? I am familiar with squatters rights, but that implies that the original owner has made no effort to assert their ownership. I’m old enough to realize that the Palestinians have been asserting that they have rights for a very long time. The British accepted, in theory, a Jewish homeland in palestine, that’s established fact. But is it relevant? By what legal premise do you assert that Israel has any right to stolen property?

  18. Why is the alleged voluntary temporary departure of Palestinians even an argument?

    “They left of their own free will, so now let them face the consequence.”

    A civilian is by definition one who doesn’t wish to stay in a place that is soon going to become a battlefield, or that is in all likelihood next on the path of creeping terrorist militias who blow up sleeping villagers at night en masse.

    In any other part of the world, being a civilian who leaves his home for fear of a looming war, hoping to return once the war is over, makes you a regular refugee with all the rights a civilian refugee, including the right of return, because that’s what a refugee is; THATS’ HOW REFUGEES ARE MADE REFUGEES.

    In Israel’s book however, it apparently makes those civilians sinister Jew-killers, because by removing their civilian bodies from the battlefield, they increased the odds that the victim of an Arab soldier’s fire will be a Jewish soldier: “They left to make way for Arab soldiers to engage Jewish soldiers instead of staying and acting as a deterrent (human shield) against those Arab soldiers? To hell with them.” Or maybe because in their hearts, the fleeing Palestinian civilians were hoping for their side to win, as if any civilian ever hoped for the enemy’s army to win.

    And what difference does it make if there was some organization to this civilian flight from the soon-to-be battlefield?

    In what moral universe does the alleged role of a military in coordinating the evacuation of their civilians from a battlefield strip those civilians of their civilian rights?

  19. Not only is Newt Gingrich’s version of “history” make believe but his purported religious faith is screwed on backwards.

    In an interview with The Jewish Channel released on Friday, Dec. 9, 2011
    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said

    “I believe that the Jewish people have a right to a state,”
    “Remember, there was no Palestine existing as a state. Part of the Ottoman Empire.

    And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs … and they had a chance to go many places”

    see Newt live here

    link to youtube.com

    No such country as Palestine, nor a Palestinian people????

    — that would be news to Eusebius, the author of the only surviving account of the first 300 years of Christianity.

    Eusebius was born in Caesaria, Palestine in 260 AD, and served as Bishop of Ceasaria, Palestine from 313 until his death in 339.

    In Book 2, Ch. 3 of his magnum opus- The History of the Church* (written between 224-225 in Palestine ), Eusebius describes

    in the quote below the very first Gentile conversion to the new faith (prior to 37 AD) taking place in Palestine following the death of Jesus in

    Jerusalem during the reign of Tiberius, the Roman Emperor.

    “The divine grace was now being poured on the other nations too.

    First, at Palestinian Caesaria, Cornelius with his entire household, through divine revelation

    and the agency of Peter,embraced the Christian faith. He was followed by many other Gentiles

    at Antioch, who had heard the preaching of those dispersed by the persecution of Stephen’s time.” (Page 40)

    The History of the Church*


    Penguin Classics

    translated by G.A.Williamson


  20. This discussion of the expulsion of the refugees has important historical consequences (though as Prof. Cole and others have pointed out, the historical questions have already been resolved to consensus amongst historians, if not partisan internet warriors…). But so far the rights of refugees go, including the Right of Return, it doesn’t matter the conditions of leaving. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” The conditions of leaving don’t matter when it comes to the rights of Palestinian refugees. They have the same right to return even if the partisan internet warriors were right (which again, they are not and there is consensus amongst historians on this).

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