In My Mind’s Eye: December 29th, 2011

American Presidential Candidate Example of Extremism

By Robert Miranda

Republican candidate for president of the United States, Newt Gingrich, called the people of Palestine “terrorists.” They teach terrorism in their schools, says Gingrich; they have textbooks that say, if there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left? All of this nonsense is coming from a candidate for president of the United States.

Rightly so, Palestinian officials said that Gingrich’s allegations were based substantially on material produced by an Israeli organization, Palestinian Media Watch, which has published a long list of entries on its website under the heading “Promoting Violence for Children.” An article published in 2007 reports that Palestinian textbooks, that were paid for with US dollars, teach kids to deny Israel’s right to exist.

Alarming Republican Extremism

Gingrich first set out his position on the Palestinian people in an interview on Turkey’s national newspaper, “Yeni Asya” (New Asia), also known throughout the Middle East as the “Jewish Channel,” in which he said that the Palestinians were an “invented” people.

One “Yeni Asya” Gingrich quote was: “Remember: there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman empire.” He added that Palestinians were “an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs.”

Palestinian officials dismissed Gingrich’s comments as an attempt to curry favor with Jewish voters. Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian prime minister, urged him to apologize, describing his comments as ridiculous.

Gingrich however responded by saying,”The fact is, the Palestinian claim to a right of return is based on a historically false story.” Gingrich said, “’Palestinian’ did not become a common term until after 1977. This is a propaganda war in which our side refuses to engage and we refuse to tell the truth when the other side lies.”

Asked if he identifies as a Zionist, Gingrich said: “I believe that the Jewish people have the right to have a state.”

Speaking from Ramallah, Ghassan Khatib, a senior Palestinian Authority official, said Gingrich’s position indicated an alarming swing towards extremism among Republicans and revealed a trend within American politics towards partisan posturing on the Middle East that could only damage the peace process.

“America is already suffering from criticism of not being impartial. Such an extreme position from a presidential candidate only adds to this perception,” Khatib said. “This incident has seriously damaged the credibility of the United States.”

In 1969, former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people… It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn’t exist.”

These statements by Gingrich illustrate the hysterical anti-Muslim atmosphere in America by those who have lost all touch with reality and make, not just irresponsible and dangerous statements, but also very irrational comments that betray, not just their own ignorance, but an unforgivable bias against the Muslim World.

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Last edited by patricia obletz. Based on work by Tyler Schuster.  Page last modified on December 29, 2011

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