By Daniel Greenfield | December 11, 2011
In the post-news environment, media no longer exists to report, it exists to disseminate glib talking points that sound good at first, but don’t stand up to examination. Fact checks, one of the latest media gimmicks, have become another vector for disseminating talking points. So have media blogs which began repeating the same ridiculous thing over and over again.
Take the response to Gingrich’s accurate statement that the Palestinian Arabs are an invented people. Aside from all the hysterical “sky is falling” nonsense, is the comparison between the Americans as an invented people and the Palestinian Arabs.
Let’s look at how wrong this is and in how many ways. To begin with the American colonies did not demand their independence based on some spurious ancient history. If they had then Washington would have dressed himself up as an Indian and instead of the United States of America, there would have been the Indian States of Iroquisville.
Americans are not a self-invented people, they are a self-evolved people. The American revolution was a struggle between a colony and the mother country that ended in a break and the creation of a new country that still used the language and much of the culture of the mother country, but at the same time the colonies had been slowly evolving their own unique identity.
The “Palestinian” Arabs on the other hand are an invented people, and not even a self-invented people. That dubious honor fell to some comrades in Moscow and the Arab nations who found it convenient to have terrorist militias that could launch attacks across the border, supposedly on their own initiative, but in reality answering to them. Their whole claim to a state is the bizarre insistence that they are the region’s original inhabitants who were driven out by the actual original inhabitants, the Jews. When they are actually the descendants of the Muslim conquerors who drove out or subjugated the native inhabitants. It’s as if George Washington had not only put on an Indian costume but began claiming that his ancestors were there for thousands of years before the Cherokees drove them out.
Palestinian identity is just so much gibberish. The official definition of that identity encompasses only those parts of the Palestine Mandate which Israel holds today.
The people who live on the parts of the Palestine Mandate that were turned into the Kingdom of Jordan in 1921 are not Palestinians. There is no call to incorporate them into a Palestinian state. The people who lived in the parts of Israel that were captured by Jordan and Egypt in 1948 weren’t Palestinians, and there was no call to turn the land that today comprises the so-called “Occupied Territories” into a state. But in 1967 when Israel liberated those areas– only then did they magically turn into Palestinians.
How is anyone supposed to take this nonsense seriously?
Suppose I were to tell you that there were an ancient people known as the Floridians whose land was seized from them to make resort hotels and orange groves. What would be your first clue that there was something wrong here? Florida is a Spanish name meaning flower. Palestine, which is a Latin name applied by its ancient conquerors, derived from the Greek, has the same problem.
When the Jews rebuilt their country, they did not call it Palestine, that was the name used by European powers. They called it Israel. The local Arabs who had come with the wave of conquests that toppled Byzantine rule had no such history and no name for themselves. Instead they took the Latin name used by the European powers and began pretending that it was some ancient tribal identity, rather than a regional name that was used by the European powers to describe local Jews and Arabs.
Even Arab place names invariably lack historicity. The Arab name for Jerusalem is Al-Quds or the holy city. It’s a little like calling New York, Big City and pretending that it means you saw it first, when it actually means that you saw it last and are piggybacking on its existing identity.
The Arabic for Hebron is a translation of the Hebrew. The same goes for Bethlehem. Ah but what about Nablus? The Jews may call it Shechem, but the Arabs have a unique name for it. Surely Nablus is part of the great and ancient Palestinian heritage. Not a chance. Nablus isn’t Arabic, it’s the Arabic mispronunciation of Neapolis, which if you happen to know Latin means “New City”.
Nablus has the same relationship to Neapolis, as Filistin does to Palestine, it’s the Arabic mispronunciation of the Latin. The name “Nablus” is every bit as regionally authentic as Naples, in Italy or Florida, which has the same meaning.
But what of the “Occupied Territories”? The Jews call them Judea and Samaria. The Arabs call them ad-difa’a al-gharbiya or the West Bank. Nothing says ancient history like bluntly descriptive names. But what of Ramallah, capital of the Palestinian Authority, that at least is an Arabic name. And that’s true. It is an Arabic name. A name almost as ancient as the city which dates back to the 16th century when a group of Christian Arabs crossed over from what is today Jordan fleeing Muslim persecution. Under Jordanian rule, Ramallah was overrun by Muslims and today it has a Muslim majority.
When the capital of your ancient people was founded by Christians from the other side of the river in the 16th century, and it wasn’t actually your capital until the bygone days of the 1990’s, and it only became your capital because you drove off its residents in the 1950’s, then your ancient civilization has a problem. It doesn’t actually exist.
The Arabs are not indigenous, they are colonizers who overran the land in tribal groups. There is no Palestinian people. For that matter there isn’t a Jordanian people or an Egyptian people. Just clans living behind one set of colonial borders drawn by European mapmakers in the 20th century. Those clans moved back and forth. Prosperous families lived like feudal lords. There was no common culture or national identity.
The Al-Husayni clan, who dominate Palestinian Arab nationalist politics, were a bunch of immigrants from what is today Saudi Arabia, and settled in the region. Clan members include Yasir Arafat, the Mufti of Jerusalem, along with a raft of modern officials, including the Chief of Staff of the PA and the head of the Waqf, the Muslim religious authority. The Al-Husayni clan was out for itself, it is still out for itself. It is not a people, it is not a part of a people, it is one of many Arab clans in the Middle-East whose only priority is power for the family.
The Al-Husaynis are no different than the House of Saud or the Al-Thanis of Qatar, they are ruling clans pretending to be a nation. The Palestinian Authority is for the most part a coalition of prominent clans, some of the same clans who refused to deal with the Jewish inhabitants and tried to drive them out instead.
If the Palestinian Authority was willing to be honest, it would call itself Husseinstin instead of Filistin, but since its entire claim to the land derives from a supposed ancient history, in which time they did not get around to thinking of a name for themselves, or creating a single government until the ancient days of the 1990’s, calling themselves the Husseinstinians wouldn’t have worked.
The Hashemite ruling family, also Saudi expats, may call their country the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, but they keep the ‘Jordan’ part in there all the same, because it creates the illusion of antiquity. But Jordan is at least the river. What is Palestine? It’s the foreign name for a region that was meant to be a subsidiary of Syria. And the PLO began life as a Syrian front group, with its original chairman, who had represented Syrian in the UN, asserting that there was no such place as Palestine.
This bloody circus has been going on for way too long. Enough that the Arab states and the local clan leaders have managed to turn out generations of children committed to killing in the name of a mythical identity for a state that they don’t really want. The call for a Palestinian state was a cynical ploy for destroying Israel.
It’s why the negotiations never go anywhere, they’re not meant to go anywhere. The players aren’t free agents, they answer to their masters, and they can’t function without them. Hamas is running around like a chicken without a head, because it’s afraid of losing its Syrian backing. The Fatah leaders of the PA are even more incoherent, their ploy to threaten to unilaterally create a state has fizzled, and now they’re threatening to turn over rule to Israel if they don’t get what they want.
Self-government was the baseline for the American Revolution, but the Palestinian Authority can’t even manage that. Its budget consists of foreign aid. Its entire economy runs on money given to it by the rest of the world. It has an entire UN agency to cater to it. And despite being the biggest welfare state on the planet, it’s still completely incapable of taking care of itself.
Gingrich is right that the “Palestinians” are an invented people, but they’re a badly invented people. The Big Lie technique has turned their existence into an established fact, but the only basis for it is the repetition of the same lie. Orwell said that “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Gingrich’s statement was a revolutionary act and no matter how the media might pillory him for it, as long as people continue to challenge the universal deceit of the press, then the revolution can continue.
Daniel Greenfield is a New York City-based writer and freelance commentator with a special focus on the War on Terror and the rising threat to Western Civilization. Mr. Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center. He maintains a blog and is a contributor to