Hassan Barari
The Jordan Times (Opinion)
December 13, 2011 - 1:00am

The statement by Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich that Palestinians are an “invented” people is nothing but a cheap stunt to get votes. Gingrich also assailed the righteousness of the Palestinians struggle for statehood when he referred to them as “terrorists”.

If Newt Gingrich becomes the next president of the United States, we have every reason not to be optimistic. It is obvious that he is influenced not only by his quest for Jewish vote but also by ignorance.

First, the Palestinians’ textbooks do not ask how many Jews are left if out of 13, nine are killed. This is a naked lie circulated by an Israeli organisation to dehumanise the Palestinian people.

Second, all Gingrich needs to do is to look at material included in Israeli religious schools (yeshivot), like the Mirkaz Harav in Jerusalem, to see the level of hatred, racism and incitement against the Palestinian people. Therefore, his statement “it’s fundamentally time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, enough lying about the Middle East” could not be more striking.

I wish he really had the guts to take his statement to the logical conclusion and say that Palestinians have the right to self-determination and that injustice befell on them.

I do not reveal a secret when I say that the United States is being widely criticised for not being impartial in dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is a perception among the Arabs that has created unprecedented levels of anti-American sentiment. Now statements like the one from a Republican forerunner can only add to this anti-Americanism.

Gingrich’s comment drew the wrath of the Arabs and Muslims worldwide. Paradoxically, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - who presides over a right-wing coalition - distanced himself from this outrageous comment and indeed recognised the Palestinian people.

Once again, the United States proves to be part of the problem. It is inconceivable that the position of the only superpower on earth continues to be hostage to domestic politics and to the narrow interests of politicians.

Gingrich’s position is not even in line with the majority in Israel, who back the concept of the two-state solution.

Gingrich does not have a sophisticated sense of American politics. Had he had it, he would have concluded that even President Barack Obama, who was painted as pro-Palestinian and had the lowest approval rating in Israel, received more Jewish votes than John McCain, who was seen as anti-Palestinian and pro Israel.

People in this part of the world are looking up to the US to support the Arab Spring. They still hope that the US cannot but support the democracy that has just taken off in the Middle East. People expect, for once, to see America consistent with its values and, accordingly, support the Palestinians’ quest for statehood. But if people like Gingrich assume power, the hope is dim.


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