Newt Gingrich is an invented person
by Sam Kriss
Newt Gingrich is an invented person. How could he not be? His name sounds like something inbetween Charles Dickens and Dr Seuss, he appears to have been drawn by a failed caricaturist or an elephant holding a paintbrush in its trunk, he has, to my knowledge, never once done anything to suggest that he’s an actual living human being with the kind of moral and psychological complexities that only storybook villains seem able to go without. But for some unfathomable reason people allow this fictional character to hold political office, and to appear on TV so he can engorge his throat sac at the viewing public. And on Friday, Newt was happily croaking away on the Jewish Channel when his gular burps arranged themselves into a series of incredibly stupid words:
INTERVIEWER: Now on Israel, do you consider yourself a Zionist?
NEWT: Well, I believe that the Jewish people have the right to have a state, and I believe that the commitments that were made at a time- remember there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and I think it’s tragic.
I want to briefly address this idea, because besides being jaw-droppingly moronic, it’s also fairly commonly espoused by Zionists (who are, to be fair, always big fans of long-discredited ideas – I remember being constantly fed the old canard about Arab radio broadcasts rather than Jewish ethnic cleansing causing the mass depopulation of Palestinian villages during the 1948 war, and this at a relatively liberal peacenik-y synagogue; and Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial is still cited as a source by Zionist commentators such as Alan Dershowitz despite its patent nonsense about a ‘country without a people’ being extensively debunked).
I don’t know what kind of definition of ‘people’ our bloated newty friend is using, but it’s a pretty weird one. Of course the notion of a Palestinian people is an invented one. So is that of an Israeli people, an American people, an English people, whatever. I thought it was common knowledge to everyone who hasn’t just stepped out of a time machine from the 19th Century that all ethnic identities are social constructs (although if Newt had just arrived in our time from the days of scientific racism that would certainly explain his economic policies). Unless you’re the kind of swivel-eyed lunatic that goes around measuring people’s cranial sizes it should be pretty obvious that ethnicity doesn’t have any real objective basis. It’s a matter of self-identification, and if a group considers itself to be a distinct people, then that’s exactly what it is. End of.
More to the point, though, even if there wasn’t a distinct Palestinian identity before 1948, so what? Is it then alright to ethnically cleanse them, occupy their ancestral lands, deny them self-determination, bomb them at sporadic intervals, tear down their houses and villages, shoot their peaceful demonstrators in the face with tear gas canisters, import and protect a population of settlers that burns their fields and abuses them on the street, subject them to an extensive system of apartheid, enact blockades that turn their meagre scraps of territory into the world’s biggest prison camp – all because their national identity doesn’t have the same long pedigree as yours does?
If the Incredible Newt is allowed to declare by fiat that the Palestinians are not a people, then I can do the same to him. Newt Gingrich is not a person. He’s a delusion, a collective hallucination. And, of course, invented beings can hardly claim human rights. They certainly shouldn’t be allowed to run for President.
Starting off with inflamatory remarks about his name is definately a good way to boost your retarded argument. Its a fact Noone wanted the land that Isreal took. Infact nothing would even grow on it. It was litterally a no mans land. After they recieved the land and turned it into something people decided they shouldn’t have. Its pretty clear u are a fuckin idiot.
It’s a stupid name.
If nobody wanted the land that Israel seized then where exactly did the 725,000 Palestinians displaced from their homes during the Nakba come from, exactly? The land-without-a-people hypothesis you refer to has been completely discredited within Israeli historical academia, it’s just a persistent lie pumped out as hasbara for credulous diaspora Jews and gentile Zionists.
Sam. Whilst I find your piece on Newt excellent the tirade against Israel is biased in the worst tradition of blinkered one sided thinking. No reasonable thinking person accepts that Israel has not done outrageous and belligerent acts and the concept of “land without a people and people without a land” should be consigned to the trash bin where it belongs but to imply that the Jews have no historical rights to the land is also nonsense. You have omitted any historical process and would do well to balance this out
Well, I don’t think the Jews do have any historical right to the land. This is a polemic, not BBC reportage; it’s not required or intended to be unbiased – being ‘balanced’ is no virtue when the situation is as one-sided as it is in Israel/Palestine.
Newt is a fat ignorant bigoted pig. Those are his finer points!
While I agree that Gingrich is a rather strange person and probably not the brightest, I’m not convinced that ranting about him achieves anything. Are you trying to achieve anything? or are you just expressing your feelings? If the latter then Mr Gingrich has done you a favour by supplying a target. He’s also done all of us the favour of giving us a good laugh.
Really I’m just using Gingrich’s comments as an opportunity to address a pernicious argument commonly espoused by Nakba-deniers, but the man himself is such an absurd figure it’s hard to resist
In reply to ‘Anonymous December 12, 2011 at 10:50 pm’, It’s patently untrue that the land that the Palestinians have grown olive trees on and built their houses on for the past few centuries (at least), or that the Bedouin tribes have lived in for generations, could be considered as ‘literally a no-mans land’. You speak as if before the Jews came over from Europe it was an arid wasteland unclaimed, and as if it was the Israeli’s who brought life to it, and only then did the Palestinians, out of some kind of jealousy, try to take it back. When you’ve been there and seen the walls built around Palestinian homes and land, around the plots their families have had rights to for years before, then maybe you’ll understand. It is stolen land, given to migrants from Russia and Africa, who apparently have more ‘right’ to it than the people who have lived there until they were kicked out.