January 1, 2012
Invented People or Invented History?
American pundits have spilled a veritable ocean of ink since Newt Gingrich's comment on the bogus nature of Palestinian nationalism -- Gingrich called the Palestinians an "invented people." But interestingly, Gingrich's American critics, on both the left and the right, are largely in agreement that Gingrich's error was not in denying Palestine's historic national existence, but instead his use of the term "invented people." All nationalisms are invented to some extent, they claim, and the Palestinians have simply invented theirs like everybody else. Perhaps they even borrowed from Zionism, like the Americans from the English, or the French from the Americans. That, goes the argument, does not make their claim inauthentic. And Palestinian nationalism may be a net good, a useful fiction, by tamping down pan-Arabism. It is true that nationalism is a human invention, and a rather late one at that -- a Western idea that slowly developed through...(Read Full Article)