Less than a month before the Iowa caucuses, the first step in the US
presidential nomination process, Republican presidential hopefuls seem to be
engaged in an attempt to outdo one another in demonstrations of support for
Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the US House of
Representatives who has pulled ahead of Mitt Romney in recent polls, has been
the most outspoken. During a Republican debate held in Des Moines, Iowa on
Saturday night, Gingrich defended comments he made last week to the Jewish
Channel referring to the Palestinians as an “invented people.”
ought to have the courage to tell the truth,” Gingrich declared, adding that
there was not much difference between Fatah and Hamas.
at the same Des Moines debate, replied that he “happens to agree with most of
what [Gingrich] said,” except for the “invented people” comment.
Michele Bachmann meanwhile attacked Palestinian incitement in school
All of the speakers, proudly brandishing their pro-Israel
credentials, touched on important points.
To better understand Gingrich’s
statement that there is not much difference between Fatah and Hamas or
Bachmann’s criticism of Palestinian text books, we recommend reading Deception:
Betraying the Peace Process
The book, launched at the beginning of the
month in a New York event attended by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and Advancing
Human Rights founder Bob Bernstein, analyzes a year’s worth of cultural,
educational and general media resources, in which the Fatah-led PA promoted
messages of hate against Israel. Authors Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
of Palestinian Media Watch discovered that even in mundane contexts, such as the
sports pages in official PA newspapers or in educational programs for children,
Israel is routinely referred to as “the homeland that is occupied,” not just on
the West Bank but within the Green Line.
Israelis policies are regularly
demonized, Israelis are compared to Nazis, and Palestinian terrorists – alive
and dead – are treated as national heroes.
Even Gingrich’s statement
referring to Palestinians as an “invented” people, taken together with a
clarification issued afterwards in which he expressed his support for a
two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, should not be dismissed
as “irresponsible and dangerous,” like one senior Arab League did. After all,
scholars of nationalism such as Benedict Anderson have referred to modern nation
states – particularly those created at the beginning of the 20th century, such
as Arab states in the region, and even European states such as Italy – as
People socially construct the idea of a nation in
order to bring together a diverse people and foster a feeling of common purpose.
The Jewish people, in contrast, can hardly be called an “invented people.” Even
before they settled in the Land of Israel nearly four millennia ago, they saw
themselves as a nation. And even after they were exiled from their land nearly
two thousand years ago, they continued to pray and occasionally make physical
attempts, to return.
Indeed, if there ever was a nation that was not
invented, it was Israel.
Republican presidential candidates’ strong
support for Israel and their deep understanding of the obstacles the Jewish
state faces in its pursuit of peace are truly
Unfortunately, this unabashed support is being articulated
at a time when key officials in the Obama administration – Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and US Ambassador to Belgium
Howard Gutman – have articulated criticism of Israel’s foreign and domestic
policies, giving the false impression that Israel has become a partisan
The comments led Democratic Congresswoman Nita Lowey, a veteran
pro-Israeli lawmaker, to voice concern.
“I’ve never seen such
partisanship,” Lowey said in a press briefing organized by The Israel
We agree with Lowey that such partisanship on Israel is “very
dangerous.” We also believe that this supposed partisanship is more perceived
than real. After all, Americans share too many common values with
As it has in the past, support for Israel should not divide
Americans, rather it should unite them – whether they be liberal or
conservative, Democrat or Republican.
In the final analysis, our two
countries stand for the same ideals – and face the same enemies.
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