Newt Catapults into Lead in Racism Race
Newt Gingrich can scarcely have realized his achievement when, during a December 10 interview on the U.S. cable network The Jewish Channel, he said, "Remember there was no Palestine as a state -- [it was] part of the Ottoman Empire. I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs[.]"
Before the sun had set, no less an authority than "top Palestinian negotiator" Saeb Erekat had already proclaimed Gingrich's comment "the most racist statement I've ever seen." Strong praise, indeed, from Erekat -- the accomplished professional liar, who recently retired after a celebrated career of disseminating scurrilous blood libels against the state of Israel.
It would have been remarkable enough if Gingrich had merely articulated the "most racist statement" ever made about the Palestinians -- a venerable competition that includes such famous pronouncements as "Palestinian" Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi's utterance during the 1937 Peel Commission partition hearings -- to wit, "[t]here is no such country as Palestine! 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented ... Our country was for centuries part of Syria!" Few thought that the sheer racism of this statement would ever be surpassed until Ahmed Shuqeiri (later chairman of the PLO) told the U.N. Security Council much more pithily that "[i]t is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria."
Then, of course, there is Yasser Arafat, who achieved some early prominence when he succeeded Shuqeiri as PLO chairman, but who is best remembered for his excellent racist work against the Palestinians. For example, when Israeli Prime Minister Levy Eshkol met with West Bank notables shortly after the 1967 Six-Day War to see if they would be interested in forming an autonomous Palestinian entity in the West Bank, the notables protested "that any attempt to negotiate with Israel would result in their assassinations by radicals -- and the radical they mentioned by name was Yasir Arafat." Although he unseated Shuqeiri as PLO Chairman, Arafat was long considered a dark-horse candidate to become top anti-Palestinian racist. Of course, that was before he executed the "anti-Palestinian Triple Crown" by making a mockery of the Oslo Peace Process, turning down Israel's offer of Palestinian statehood on 95% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza Strip, and telling Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu "that the Palestinians lacked the tradition, unity and discipline to become a formal state, and that a Palestinian state would be a failure from the first day."
Despite Arafat's valuable anti-Palestinian work, top honors in this category have typically been reserved for his junior colleague, PLO executive committee member Zahir Muhsein, who told the Dutch newspaper Trouw in March 1977 that "[t]he Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism."
Stunning examples of racism, indeed! But the magnitude of Gingrich's accomplishment cannot be fully appreciated until we contemplate the fact that his comment is not only more racist than all of these anti-Palestinian racist statements, but also, in Erekat's view, more racist than any other statement in the entire annals of racism. More racist, for example, than article 20 of the PLO charter, which states that "[c]laims of historical ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history"; more racist than official Palestinian Authority maps, showing Israel wholly eradicated and replaced by a Palestinian state; more racist than the PA's recent endorsement of a "study" that denies any historical Jewish claim to the Western Wall; and more racist than Mahmoud Abbas' and Erekat's own refusal to recognize Israel as a the national state of the Jewish people...ever. It is even more racist than Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah's branding of Jews as the "grandsons of apes and pigs"; more racist than Mahmoud Abbas' Ph.D. in Holocaust-denial; and more racist than Article 28 of the Hamas founding charter, which states that Zionism established "the Free Masons, Rotary Clubs, Lions and other spying associations" in their effort "to wipe out Islam." Nay, in Erekat's estimation, Gingrich's statement is more racist than the illegal bulldozing into garbage heaps of 6,000 tons of earth from beneath the surface of the Temple Mount in 2000 on the pretext of building a second exit for the new Solomon's stables mosque. The project resulted in priceless artifacts from Judaism's heritage on the Mount being forever lost.
In deference to Erekat's mastery of the art of falsehood, Gingrich has humbly "confessed" that his racist remarks about the Palestinians actually contained elements of truth. This was a bold piece of false modesty for the man who -- with Erekat's endorsement in his pocket -- must be considered the frontrunner for the 2012 Nobel Racism Prize (due out in February). It promises to be a hard-fought competition, with this year's field including such titans as the "Occupy Miami Movement," whose founder, Mohammad Malik, led his "99%" in calling for a nuclear holocaust against Israel and for Jews to "go back to the oven." Also entered in this year's competition is the fan base of the Dutch Soccer Club, ADO, who cheered their team on in Amsterdam last August with the cry, "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the Gas!" Lastly, of course, there's the potent tandem of Nicolas Sarkozy and Barak Obama, whose irreverent exchange (Sarkozy: "I cannot stand him [i.e., Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu]; he's a liar." Obama: "You're fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day!"), was "accidentally" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) overheard at the recent G20 summit in Cannes.
Luckily, for Gingrich, all of these formidable rivals are hamstrung by the same Achilles heel: they've chosen anti-Semitism as their racist venue, and now that Jew-hatred has become a legitimate mainstream viewpoint among political leaders and intellectuals worldwide, the Nobel Committee no longer considers it a "bigotry" per se and doesn't like to hand out awards for it.
No, it seems that the only prayer for stopping Gingrich now is for his rivals to prove that his statement wasn't a bigoted lie after all, that he wasn't exercising false modesty in his deference to Erekat, and that there is actually a kernal of truth to his words (an automatic disqualifier in the Nobel sweepstakes). Indeed, there is already a movement afoot in anti-Gingrich quarters to portray Yasser Arafat himself as an "invented" Palestinian. The premise seems unlikely to gain traction. As is now well-known, Arafat became Palestinian by the completely traditional 4-step process of (i) being born in Cairo, (ii) living there exclusively until he was 28, (iii) speaking Arabic with an Egyptian accent until his dying day (to the annoyance of most West Bank residents), and (iv) starting his political career in an Egyptian student organization from which "Palestinians" were barred.
If this is all Gingrich's competition can come up with, the smart money is on the Newtster winning a free trip to Norway come February.
Jack Schwartzwald is a clinical assistant professor at Brown University's Warren Alpert School of Medicine. His book, Nine Lives of Israel, is due to be released by McFarland Publishers in the spring of 2012.