Global Lens Reflections on life, the universe, and everything

Palestinian pictures

A family's refrigerator door in the West Bank village of Wadi’ Foukin (Valley of Thorns)

Newt Gingrich paints himselfs as a "historian," but it's obvious that his recent reference to the Palestinians as an "invented" people, just as his claim that they are all "terrorists," is a lie so big that only the most ardent Fox News devotee, who knows less about the world than someone who doesn't watch any news at all, wouldn't choke on their slurpy while hearing it. Most scholars of the ancient Middle East, including many Israeli scholars, agree that the people known as Palestinians have been living the same area since approximately 1200 BCE, about the same time as the Israelites showed up. That’s more than three millennia of continuous settlement, roughly 2,600 years before the first settler colony was established at Jamestown, Virginia. It's true that the idea of a modern Palestinian state didn't emerge until the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the imposition of the British mandate in 1922, but then the same could be said for Israel, which was only created by the United Nations in 1948. Many of us, including me, are part of an “invented” people, but Gingrich wants to see the Palestinians through a selective filter because it helps him pander to the Israeli lobby, something President Obama has also developed a knack of doing. The conflict in the middle east isn't going to improve until the U.S. becomes an honest power broker, which means understanding the necessity of a two-state solution that recognizes the right of all – including Jews, Muslims, and Christians – to live in peace. If I were Gingrich's parole officer, I'd punish him for such idiocy by making him stare for days at the refrigerator doors of Palestinian and Israeli families, where I suspect there's a lot to learn about identity and peoplehood. Here's an image from the kitchen of a Palestinian family in Wadi' Foukin, a small agricultural village under assault from an illegal Israeli settlement that has moved on to the adjacent hilltop and proceded to dump its sewage onto the Palestinians' fields. Such aggression wouldn't be allowed if people like Gingrich really understood history.

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