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Gingrich has opened an important door

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The Palestinians are an invented people, noted historian Newt Gingrich tells us. Newt is trying to pander to that part of the Republican electorate closely attuned to who can display the most hatred for Muslims. The national press seems to have forgotten that Newt spent the greater part of 2010 warning against the imminent threat of imposition of Sharia law on the United States by immigrants and liberal judges. Even many neocons thought that was crazy, and he stopped, but here he has re-focused the campaign, choosing a new target to tap into the same animosity. 

Palestinian nationalism is a generation or two behind Zionism. Zionism was in great part a Jewish reaction to European ethnonationalism, whose extremes eventually made it seem both plausible and necessary. Palestinian nationalism is a response to Zionism, growing more urgent as the Zionist presence in Palestine grew more threatening. But perhaps even Newt can acknowledge that if all nationalisms don’t begin to germinate at the same time, the late starters don’t have to be suppressed in perpetuity. 

I’ve been thinking about Ireland. My ancestors (both Catholics and Protestant settlers) are mostly from there; surfing channels recently, I got stuck on the docudrama “Bloody Sunday” (Derry, 1972, 13 killed and dozens wounded by British paras suppressing a disorderly but not especially violent civil rights march.) It’s reasonably calm and peaceful now. I read recently that almost no one knows and few care whether Rory McIlroy, the greatest young golfer in the world and Northern Ireland’s most beloved person, is Catholic or Protestant.  Nationalisms, and the sentiments which surround them, can change enormously in the space of a generation. 

Not so long ago no one in Britain could conceive of a self-governed Ireland. The topic would incite torrents of racist invective, a reiteration of the supposed barbarisms of Irish political culture. When the desirability of limited Irish autonomy was first raised in the 1840’s by Count Cavour, during a visit to England, he was told by the “most humane” and “most liberal” Lord Spencer that a “war of extermination” was preferable to Irish self-rule.

Of course the Irish had access to Westminster, which is far more political representation than the Palestinians have. By the end of the 19th century they were able to effectively use that lever to send a nationalist rump to Parliament. They used every other tool at their disposal as well, including, of course, terrorism. Eventually they prevailed—most of Ireland is today an independent European country (beholden only to the global bond market) , and even the seemingly insoluble situation in the northern six counties has been largely drained of its hatreds, the nationalistic firebrands of both sides having been bought off by holding office. Rory McIlroy, Rory McIlroy… The socio/economic/education gap between Ireland and England, once vast, has largely vanished. 

It shouldn’t surprise that Ireland appears to be the most pro-Palestinian country in western Europe. It is the European nation in which the experience of occupation and humiliation loom largest in historic memory. But Ireland’s relative calm is a result which would have seemed impossible a century ago. Political equality and economic growth eventually made the hatreds seem outdated, then irrelevant. Some variant of that formula could, of course, be made to work in Israel/Palestine as well. 

Newt Gingrich is not much of a historian or truth teller, as he styles himself. But his claim that Palestinian nationalism is “invented” might as well be taken as an opportunity. Its relatively recent provenance does not it make it different from other nationalisms. Truthful talk, more of it, a lot of it, about the history of Jews and Arabs in Palestine would be a welcome addition to American discourse. I hope we haven’t heard the end of the subject.

Scott McConnell

Scott McConnell is a founding editor of the American Conservative. The former editorial page editor of The New York Post, he has written for Fortune, The New Criterion, National Review, Commentary and many other publications.

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61 Responses

  1. J. Otto Pohl on December 12, 2011, 10:53 am

    The thing about recent vintage is that the Zionist colonial settlement is so very recent compared to places like for instance South Africa. There is no real historical connection between the Ashkenazi and the land of Palestine. That is why the Zionists had to resort to distorting the Bible. The first Zionist settlement in Palestine is only established in 1882. By that time the Mennonites had colonies in Kyrgyzstan. As late as 1920 there are only 5,000 Jews, mostly non-Zionist native Arabized ones, in Palestine versus some 700,000 Palestinian Arabs. So just a few decades before the invention of Israel there are practically no Jews in Palestine. I have another post up on Gingrich and Palestine on my blog. The url is below.

    • tokyobk on December 12, 2011, 11:51 am

      Hmmm, I don’t know J. Otto

      There is indeed a deep religious and cultural connection between all Jews and various places in Israel and the Occupied territories. I also believe the recent studies which show genetic connection between all Jews, but lets throw that out for now and assume the Ashkenazim are just latter day Khazars.

      This connection to places in Israel, which is all over the literature and liturgy and pilgrimages of Jews, including Ashkenazim, may not make the case for political Zionism, yet denying it is like denying that the Palestinians are an authentic people. Its usually done to advance politics not to refine history.

      The low % of Jews living in Palestine (I think your numbers are low but would like to know your source), which of course as you know grew sharply, may be another argument against political zionism and some innate right to establish sovereignty, but not against a cultural attachment. The Jewish attachment to that strip of land makes sense within Jewish tradition, it makes sense why Jews returned to Hebron as soon as they could 800 years ago and never left.

      Again, this is no brief for fortress Israel geared on “reclaiming” Judea and Sumeria, just a response to your statement that Ashkenazim have no historical connection and no Jews were really living there anyway.

      I would very much disagree with the statement that Bosnian and Nigerian Muslims have no historical connection to Mecca and Medina and Jerusalem.

      • Taxi on December 12, 2011, 12:36 pm

        “I also believe the recent studies which show genetic connection between all Jews”.


        There ain’t one mister.

        Original Hebrews were Arabs. Arabs, you know, them people you clearly loath for being arabs.

        Zionists? Are followers of a demented supremist european political ideology. Not all jews are zionists.

        A germanic jew and a morrocan jew do NOT share the same gene pool. You don’t even need a DNA test to figure THAT out mister drip-drip propaganda peddler.

      • tokyobk on December 12, 2011, 2:47 pm


        What on earth have I ever said to make you think I (sic) “loath” arabs?

        That is really quite a disgusting charge. You should be careful to throw around that kind of slander.

        PS, G Lucotte study seems to show connection, if you are really interested, and like I said, it is irrelevant to whether Jews have a cultural connection to Israel. This is true even if all Ashkenazim are Khazars.

      • straightline on December 12, 2011, 4:03 pm

        Nice piece on Juan Cole that addresses the genetic issue yesterday.

      • wondering jew on December 12, 2011, 5:30 pm

        Not to get into the genetic question, but to call the original Hebrews Arabs is an anachronism. The original Hebrews apparently did come from the Middle East (Iraq on today’s maps), but Iraq in the pre Muhammad era was not an Arab country. Arab meants someone from Saudi Arabia (modern name for that peninsula). After the death of Mohammed, his followers conquered much of the world from Morocco to parts of India, including nearby Iraq. That’s when Iraq became Arab. (Abraham lived about the year 1950 b.c. and Moses lived about the year 1550 b.c. and Iraq was conquered in the 600’s of the current era.)

        Regarding genetics- There is little externally discernible genetic difference between Iranians and Iraqis for instance, but no one would accurately call Iranians Arabs.

      • tokyobk on December 12, 2011, 5:57 pm

        Gingrich’s comments were mean spirited and not intended to be history anyway. Just politics.

        And, imo, the last group of people who should be talking about or endorsing assaults against another group’s identity are we Jews who have suffered millenia of similar BS.

      • Cliff on December 12, 2011, 6:13 pm


        next time a major US politician say Israelis are a historical invention within the same context as Gingrich (that of conspiracy/deceit/looming evil) – then you can dismiss this incident as simply ‘political’

        it speaks volumes about out political culture which is different from a throwaway comment about the petty political theater of an election campaign.

        that these views pass into the mainstream without proper challenge is the issue

        this is identity politics at work, stop whitewashing

      • thankgodimatheist on December 12, 2011, 7:37 pm

        “(Abraham lived about the year 1950 b.c.”

        Are you telling us that you believe that Abraham myth, Wondering Jew? That you didn’t know that the origin of this myth (Abraham and Sarah) goes back to India’s Brahma and Sarawasati?

      • Mooser on December 12, 2011, 8:19 pm

        So tokyobk, because Jews have a religious and mythical connection to Palestine we get to kill and/or dispossess the people who live there?
        Either you are insane, or you think very little of the people who live there.

      • Taxi on December 12, 2011, 8:58 pm


        We know that zionists in varying degrees hate/loath/abhor Arabs, and clearly (all typos aside) you are a zionist who claims that “Thw West nbank is Judea and Sumeria” – September 25, 2011 at 10:15 am. I would say you are the “disgusting” one for making such a statement. If you had said that thousands of years ago the West Bank USED TO BE Judea and Sumeria, that would have been a different story but you DIDN’T and clearly you never will. You’re constantly trying to simultaneously hide AND advance your ‘progressive’ version of zionism. Pathetic.

        Every time I read your posts, I get the feeling that you’re Richard Witty’s cousin, stylistically speaking: arrogant, convoluted, always cold, non-committed to the Geneva Conventions – but that’s another topic altogether.

        I asked you for a link and you give me the name ‘G Lucotte’. So frigging what?! That ain’t enough. You honestly expect people to google something like that and spend three hours reading a report just to be able to follow a single (and highly controversial) point you made? So like where’s the link and passage you got your holier-than-thou info from, where is it?!!

      • Taxi on December 12, 2011, 11:00 pm

        Wandering Jew,

        Abraham did not call himself a ‘jew’, a ‘hebrew’ or even an ‘israelite’ now did he? And therefore references to Abraham as a jew/hebrew/israelite is also anachronistic.

        After his death, it was a handful of Arabian Desert tribes, following his teachings, that referred to themselves as ‘hebrew’, to separate themselves from other Arabian Desert pagan semites.

        The name ‘Arabia’ is from pre Abrahamic days, a name that in ancient times referred to a Peninsula that’s bounded by (clockwise) the Persian Gulf on the northeast, the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman on the east, the Arabian Sea on the southeast and south, the Gulf of Aden on the south, the Bab-el-Mandeb strait on the southwest, and the Red Sea on the southwest and west. The northern portion of the peninsula merges with the Syrian Desert with no clear border line, and the northern boundary of the Arabian Peninsula was considered to be the northern borders of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

        For thousands of years pre Abraham and pre islam, the tribes of this region intermarried which explains the physical similarities between them.

        Considering all the above, I would think Abraham, if he were alive today, would have no problem calling himself an Arab. An Arab hebrew to be more precise.

        Even if he had found himself in europe and then returned to the semitic holy land, he would still call himself an Arab hebrew and not an ashkanazi. Returning to his roots and not separating himself from his Arab hebrew brethren.

      • annie on December 12, 2011, 11:23 pm

        well put taxi, i agree.

      • J. Otto Pohl on December 12, 2011, 1:01 pm

        The numbers came from George Jabbour’s book, Settler Colonialism in Southern Africa and the Middle East. But, after thinking about it appears that the Jewish figure is far too low. I am willing to defer to the 1922 census figures cited by Light. I suspect that 1920 is a typo and that he meant an earlier date perhaps 1900, I am don’t know.

      • Charon on December 12, 2011, 1:05 pm

        tokyobk, I’ve done a ton of research on this over the past year or so (and the history of the world in general). The world tells a story that you will not find in any history book. I no longer believe that Khazars are the primary ancestors of Ashkenazi Jews or the ’13th tribe’ thing. There is certainly some truth in there, but far more to the story. For example, although not 100% accurate, phonetic similarities in different languages often refer to similar things.

        J and Y and I are often interchangable as are P and B along with L and R, and T and D. The Jotun of Norse mythology were giants who lived in the mountains. Khazars were said to have broad stature and are a few inches taller than man similar to biblical Nephilim and Amorites who were also mountain folks and desert wanderers, and also called giants. There was a Germanic tribe called Jutes who lived in the Jutland penninsula who were described in a similar way. The Scythians and Mongols are also described in similar ways.

        In China, there were the Jurchen people (pronounced jušen) who founding the Jin dynasty (called ‘Altan Ulus’ by Mongols… Atlantis?). Genghis Khan of the Mongols was said to have been possibly taught by Jewish teachers. There is no doubt that there were Jews in China. A 500-year-old map from a cartographer named Von Fries lists an area near China/America (they are conjoined on the map) as Judea Fuperioz which is latin for something I do not know (I think it means ‘superior’ as possibly ‘greater Judea’). Also, the founding fathers considered the US to be New Jerusalem.

        Even biblical Jerusalem doesn’t necessarily mean the one in Palestine. The latter could be named after the former. Either way, the temple was destroyed and the kingdom conquered. The homeland was no more. It might be tied to faith, but for the most part it was Martin Luther and his followers using the “Jews are Semites” line to be mean. So who really were the Jews? There is evidence all over Asia and Europe. The Danish believe they are descended from the tribe of Dan. The British royal family believe they are Israelites too. Perhaps there is truth to the lost tribes and they aren’t lost. They conquered Europe and Asia. Start by reading the Vedas… there is evidence that Vedic civilization was global.

        So much of our history was destroyed in the dark ages, we may never know.

      • tokyobk on December 12, 2011, 2:48 pm

        As I was saying, I don’t believe it either but -even- if it were true, the connection to Israel is cultural and religious not racial since Jews are not a race.

      • gamal on December 13, 2011, 4:13 am

        many of my egyptian relatives use the surname metwalli, i had never heard of the shia asociation. As to iraq etc not being arab back then, this is a meaningless statement as the research below indicates, a. there were arabs all over the region from long long before the advent of Islam. b. the people became arabised in terms of language, they were not exterminated and replaced by arabians as everyone knows, just by becoming arabised they have neither forgotten their history nor become foreigners in their own lands, identity in the ME is complex, who needs telling that jews are a natural part of the ME, not us, judaism, christianity and paganism were the arab religions in the old days, those egyptian metwallis are part of the banu ‘awf tribe, some of whom were of the jewish religion back in the prophets time as evidenced by treaties etc from the period.
        Nationalism has not done much for the complex populations of the ME and Balkans, north africa.

        the canaanites said they came from the gulf, which was derided by modern scholarship, prior to the discouvery of Dilmun,

        human rights are not determined genetically are they? my genes wouldnt entitle me to much, a damp bog in africa perhaps, if there are any going spare or a desert in europe, i own land in egypt via masha’a system but i think my genes preclude me from forming a state there, who knows and who cares, i am not a natural part of anywhere except wherever i happen to be.

        Journal axes gene research on Jews and Palestinians

        Robin McKie, science editor
        The Observer, Sunday 25 November 2001 11.24 GMT
        Article history

        A keynote research paper showing that Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians are genetically almost identical has been pulled from a leading journal.

        Academics who have already received copies of Human Immunology have been urged to rip out the offending pages and throw them away.

        Such a drastic act of self-censorship is unprecedented in research publishing and has created widespread disquiet, generating fears that it may involve the suppression of scientific work that questions Biblical dogma.

        ‘I have authored several hundred scientific papers, some for Nature and Science, and this has never happened to me before,’ said the article’s lead author, Spanish geneticist Professor Antonio Arnaiz-Villena, of Complutense University in Madrid. ‘I am stunned.’

        British geneticist Sir Walter Bodmer added: ‘If the journal didn’t like the paper, they shouldn’t have published it in the first place. Why wait until it has appeared before acting like this?’

        The journal’s editor, Nicole Sucio-Foca, of Columbia University, New York, claims the article provoked such a welter of complaints over its extreme political writing that she was forced to repudiate it. The article has been removed from Human Immunology’s website, while letters have been written to libraries and universities throughout the world asking them to ignore or ‘preferably to physically remove the relevant pages’. Arnaiz-Villena has been sacked from the journal’s editorial board.

        Dolly Tyan, president of the American Society of Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics, which runs the journal, told subscribers that the society is ‘offended and embarrassed’.

        The paper, ‘The Origin of Palestinians and their Genetic Relatedness with other Mediterranean Populations’, involved studying genetic variations in immune system genes among people in the Middle East.

        In common with earlier studies, the team found no data to support the idea that Jewish people were genetically distinct from other people in the region. In doing so, the team’s research challenges claims that Jews are a special, chosen people and that Judaism can only be inherited.

        Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East share a very similar gene pool and must be considered closely related and not genetically separate, the authors state. Rivalry between the two races is therefore based ‘in cultural and religious, but not in genetic differences’, they conclude.

        But the journal, having accepted the paper earlier this year, now claims the article was politically biased and was written using ‘inappropriate’ remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its editor told the journal Nature last week that she was threatened by mass resignations from members if she did not retract the article.

        Arnaiz-Villena says he has not seen a single one of the accusations made against him, despite being promised the opportunity to look at the letters sent to the journal.

        He accepts he used terms in the article that laid him open to criticism. There is one reference to Jewish ‘colonists’ living in the Gaza strip, and another that refers to Palestinian people living in ‘concentration’ camps.

        ‘Perhaps I should have used the words settlers instead of colonists, but really, what is the difference?’ he said.

        ‘And clearly, I should have said refugee, not concentration, camps, but given that I was referring to settlements outside of Israel – in Syria and Lebanon – that scarcely makes me anti-Jewish. References to the history of the region, the ones that are supposed to be politically offensive, were taken from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and other text books.’

        In the wake of the journal’s actions, and claims of mass protests about the article, several scientists have now written to the society to support Arnaiz-Villena and to protest about their heavy-handedness.

        One of them said: ‘If Arnaiz-Villena had found evidence that Jewish people were genetically very special, instead of ordinary, you can be sure no one would have objected to the phrases he used in his article. This is a very sad business.’

      • Mooser on December 13, 2011, 11:16 am

        “Jews are a special, chosen people and that Judaism can only be inherited.”

        Providing “eee” approves your boner fidos, of course!

      • American on December 12, 2011, 2:34 pm

        “There is indeed a deep religious and cultural connection between all Jews and various places in Israel and the Occupied territories. I also believe the recent studies which show genetic connection between all Jews, but lets throw that out for now and assume the Ashkenazim are just latter day Khazars.”

        I hate to be crude but who do you think, tokyobk , gives a crap if Jews are genetically connected or not. If you want to consider yourselves a distinct genetic group like the Black race or White race go ahead, who cares. Call your self a different race of people or whatever you want to call yourselves.

        Who do you think cares about what’s in Jewish tradition or religion about their cultural or historic any other ‘connection’ to Palestine.
        Who the hell do you think the Jews are to have any more religious or historical or cultural justifications to claim ownership of a land than the Christians who lived there and have historical religious and cultural attachments, or the Muslims who lived there and had historical and religious and cultural attachments to the land?

        No one cares about what Jews are Ashkenazim and which are Khazars.” The Jews who care about those kind of things can gaze into their own navels and study and discuss themselves till hell freezes over.

        It’s all immaterial. The question of today is …who do Jews think they are that their religious, historical, cultural attachments should “come ahead of” all other people’s religious, historical, cultural attachments to the same land?
        Can you explain this?

      • tokyobk on December 12, 2011, 6:11 pm

        Jews that think they should come ahead of anyone else are on their own and will get no defense from me. Go find one and ask him or her.

        I was responding to the post which suggested that Ashkenazim were not connected to Israel (false historically, culturally, religiously and perhaps genetically — heard maybe don;t really care any more than I care if a Bosnian Muslim who prays towards Mecca has genetic claims to Saudi).

        So again, American: the Jews have no more claims to the Holy Land than any other religion and none of their claims are in themselves justifications for claims of sovereignty.

        But the Jews are also a normal and natural part of the Middle East and of Israel. This was my point.

      • American on December 13, 2011, 10:33 am

        Thank you for recongizing my point tokyobk.

      • lysias on December 12, 2011, 4:45 pm

        It was Christian sentimental and religious attachment to the Holy Land that led the Crusaders to conquer the place. Do you think they were right?

        Evangelical Protestants continue to feel a strong attachment to the place. What rights does that give them?

      • tokyobk on December 12, 2011, 6:06 pm

        No, I don’t think that the Crusaders were right looking back applying my post WWII values.

        As I say above, attachment is no legitimization for conquest.

      • American on December 13, 2011, 10:40 am

        lysias…..all the conquest that went on were in primitive times. But
        I don’t think any of them have a “right” to own or control the Holy Land in these times.
        However I was addresing specifically the idea that a Jewish Nation should
        be created there just because they have some historical or religious connection..the point being so do/did other groups.

      • Kris on December 12, 2011, 4:58 pm

        It seems so strange to me that anyone can get into discussions about Jewish “ties” to Palestinian land, as if that means anything at all. My family has “ties” to Sweden, since my forebears emigrated from there.

        Like many U.S. citizens of Swedish ancestry, I wish my great-grandparents had stayed in Sweden. So do I and a bunch of fellow Americans with “ties” to Sweden get to invade Sweden and take over part of it? What if we took only the property that is now owned by, say, African-Swedes, since obviously their claim to the land, as recent immigrants, would be less than ours, since there is no question at all about our being part of the “Swedish gene pool?”

        I know the answer is “no;” I’m just not sure why not, if it’s supposed to be a rationale for the Jews to dispossess the Palestinians.

      • Mooser on December 13, 2011, 11:20 am

        “Like many U.S. citizens of Swedish ancestry, I wish my great-grandparents had stayed in Sweden.”

        I understand perfectly. America has been good to us Jews, but it would mean a lot to me to be able to say: “I live where they make the Nords!

  2. Light on December 12, 2011, 11:27 am

    J. Otto Pohl, your statistics are way off.

    In 1922, Palestine population according to the 1922 British Census (Census conducted by the British Mandate Government.)

    Jews Arabs Total
    1922 83,790 668,258 752,048

    • philweiss on December 12, 2011, 11:31 am

      thanks. helpful, light

    • mig on December 12, 2011, 2:15 pm

      In 1922, Palestine population according to the 1922 British Census (Census conducted by the British Mandate Government.)

      Numbers are wrong. Here are correct numbers :

      Moslems 590,890
      Jews 83,794
      Christians 73,024
      Druzes 7,028
      Samaritans 163
      Bahais 265
      Metawallis 156
      Hindoos 1,454
      Sikhs 408

      Total 757,182

      Not much difference, but these are correct ones ;)

      • J. Otto Pohl on December 12, 2011, 2:40 pm

        They are close enough to Light’s I am not going to split hairs. But, what are Metawallis? I have never heard of them.

      • mig on December 12, 2011, 3:21 pm

        Dont know. Never heard before….

      • tree on December 12, 2011, 3:35 pm

        But, what are Metawallis?

        Shi’a Muslims living in Northern Palestine, near Lebanon.

        Metawali refers to the Shia Muslim community with a significant presence in North Lebanon (Kesrawan and Batroun) and in the south, in the Beqaa and the coastal towns south of Beirut.[3]

        The jurisdiction of the Ottoman Empire was merely nominal in the Lebanon. Baalbek in the 18th century was really under the control of the Metawali.

        Seven Metawali villages that were included within the boundaries of the British Mandate of Palestine were depopulated during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and repopulated with Jews.[4] The seven villages are Qadas, Nabi Yusha, al-Malikiyya, Hunin, Tarbikha, Abil al-Qamh, and Saliha.[5]'a_Islam_in_Lebanon

      • mig on December 12, 2011, 3:42 pm
      • Walid on December 12, 2011, 5:45 pm

        Mig, Metwali is a 17th century term for Shia that’s no longer in use. “Metawali” was the plural form of “Metwali” that designated the followers of Ali. The term fell into pejorative use to designate the the downtrodden Shia of south Lebanon, which of course is no longer the case especially after Hizbulla’s kicking of ass in 2000 and the current standing of the Shia in Lebanon’s society. The term “Shia” is the short form of the full “Shi’at-Ali”, or “followers of Ali”.

        The 7 villages you are discussing were located in north Palestine near the Lebanese border; they were populated mostly all by Shia with relatives living in villages in bordering Lebanese villages. There was a mixup in 1922-1924 in cutting up of the pie between the French and the British that resulted in counting the inhabitants of the 7 villages as both Lebanese and Palestinians. When the Jews attacked in 1948, they inhabitants were chased across the border into Lebanon. The Lebanese government has more or less abandoned any claims to the villages eventhough there are still refugees now living in Lebanon with valid claims to property there but Hizbullah still occasionally rattles Israel’s cage by claiming those 7 villages are Lebanese to keep the Israelis spooked.

        Nicholas Blanford’s interesting historical essay on the subject with maps:

  3. J. Otto Pohl on December 12, 2011, 11:38 am

    The Arab number is quite close. It is only the Jewish number that is significantly different. But, 1920 is not 1922. The source I cited Jabbour (PLO, 1970) may be wrong, but it is by no means a given that there was zero population growth of Jews in Palestine including through immigration from 1920-1922.

    • tree on December 12, 2011, 3:39 pm

      it is by no means a given that there was zero population growth of Jews in Palestine including through immigration from 1920-1922.

      I can’t vouch for any particular figures one way or the other but it is entirely possible that there was zero Jewish population growth between 1920-1922, as Zionist historical sources point out that the community was in financial straits during that time, and there were considerable numbers of Jews LEAVING Palestine during that era, that MAY have offset births and/or immigration.

      • mig on December 12, 2011, 4:13 pm

        “Early history.For the purposes of this report it is unnecessary to discuss the early history of immigration into Palestine. The original Immigration Ordinance came into force in 1920, under which the Zionist Organization were authorized to introduce into the country 16,500 immigrants per annum, on condition that they accepted responsibility for their maintenance for one year. This system was not found to be a success, and in May, 1921, immigration was suspended until revised conditions could be imposed.”

  4. Kathleen on December 12, 2011, 11:49 am

    “It shouldn’t surprise that Ireland appears to be the most pro-Palestinian country in western Europe. It is the European nation in which the experience of occupation and humiliation loom largest in historic memory. But Ireland’s relative calm is a result which would have seemed impossible a century ago.”

    What a great, important and hopeful post. I have noticed for decades that quite a few of active or recovering Irish Catholics here in the states have and are involved with the I/P issue . Lots of the folks I have lobbied with in DC have been Irish Catholics as well as a mix of religious and non religious folks. And clearly so many in Ireland relate and are active.

  5. Kathleen on December 12, 2011, 11:53 am

    “Newt Gingrich is not much of a historian or truth teller, as he styles himself.”

    The man is terrifying. The comments about Iran were as inflammatory as can be. During the latest Republican debate after Bachman was calling Romney and Newt on their support of a health care mandate (which I believe is actually conservative and compassionate) kept repeating “Newt Romney, Newt Romney, Newt Romney” and Romney and Newt were both smirking ….Newt shot a glance at Romney. The sort of imploring look said to me “I am willing to be the VP choice” Terrifying

  6. Dan Crowther on December 12, 2011, 11:58 am

    “An Irishman is a poor Scotsman”
    – my grandfather

    While this doesn’t rise to the level of “Palestinians are invented” it bares some of the same sentiment… when i heard him talk like this, i always knew it was because of his hatred of the english – he had to take it out on someone else, preferably lower on the totem pole than himself, and there the Irish were…..does sound familiar, huh?

  7. patm on December 12, 2011, 11:59 am

    “It shouldn’t surprise that Ireland appears to be the most pro-Palestinian country in western Europe. It is the European nation in which the experience of occupation and humiliation loom largest in historic memory.”

    Excellent article, Scott McConnell.

    It’s not just South Africa that sets out a modern formula for a peaceful resolution in Palestine.

  8. J. Otto Pohl on December 12, 2011, 12:20 pm

    Thanks for the correction. Any clue as to why Jabbour’s figure for the Jewish population is so much smaller? Did he mistype 1920 and mean an earlier date?

    • Charon on December 12, 2011, 1:45 pm

      Perhaps (this is only a guess) Arab Jews were included among the Arab total? There would have been no Yemen immigrants at that time, the indigenous Jews (from what I have read) did not go along with the Zionist movement until later (and were even opposed to the colonists)

      • J. Otto Pohl on December 12, 2011, 2:36 pm

        No, he has a figure for 5,000 Jews total of which 2,000 are settlers. But, he gives no source so it is very problematic. I am thinking maybe he meant 1900 and typed 1920. But, the strange thing is his number for Arabs is a reasonable estimate given the 1922 census figure. At any rate upon thinking about it I am going to assume that the number is incorrect. I just do not know why Jabbour made the error.

      • mig on December 12, 2011, 3:45 pm

        Sometimes someones calculated palestinian muslims & christians and other groups together, and sometimes separated.

    • Eva Smagacz on December 12, 2011, 2:32 pm

      I think he may have used figures from Ottoman Empire census 1886?

  9. Dex on December 12, 2011, 4:27 pm

    The author is incorrect: Palestinian “nationalism” was expedited by Zionism, not a direct consequence of it. If you look at the major academics works done on this issue, two of which are The Palestinian People by Baruch Kimmerling and Joseph Migdal and Palestinian Identity by Rashid Khalidi, it is clear to see that Palestinian identity/nationalism began to take shape in second half of the 18th century, before the advent of Zionism.

    We must be clear about this; the creation of Palestinians as a “people” was at the very least in line with the creation of Jews as a “people.”

    Here is the difference: those Palestinians, Arabs — call them what you want – were physically living on that land as the majority population for 1,000 uninterupted years, long before any European Jew set foot there.

    Those Jews that were living on the land were Arabs who practiced Judaism, just like there were Arabs who practiced Christianity and Islame. Why on earth to so many people not understand this basic fact?

    Answer: Zionism and its revisionist history has brainwashed so many…

    • Jeff Klein on December 13, 2011, 12:00 am

      The first modern nationalist newspaper in Palestine was founded by two Orthodox Christian brothers in Jaffa in 1911. It was called Al Falastin.

      • Present_Absentee on December 13, 2011, 6:03 am

        How about the 1834 Arab revolt in Palestine?

        Baruch Kimmerling and Joel S. Migdal argue that the 1834 Arab revolt of the Egyptian conquered part of Ottoman Syria was a formative event, in that it forged a unity among disparate groups against a common enemy: the various classes and clans who fought in it are precisely those that reemerged later to constitute the Palestinian people.[1]

        1834 Arab revolt in Palestine

      • J. Otto Pohl on December 13, 2011, 6:32 am

        I believe Rashid Khalidi also claims the 1834 revolt as an important early formative event in the development of Palestinian nationalism.

  10. wondering jew on December 12, 2011, 4:38 pm

    Before the outbreak of WWI there were approximately 85,000 Jews in Palestine. Because many of the Jews were Russian (the Russian empire included Poland and Ukraine at the time), when the war broke out and Russia and Turkey which controlled Palestine were on opposite sides, so many of the recent immigrants were exiled, so the number of Jews in 1918 was less than the number of Jews in 1914, but by 1920 there were about 85,000 Jews in Palestine.

    • Chaos4700 on December 13, 2011, 12:24 am

      It doesn’t bother you in the slightest that you and your parents’ and parents’ parents are essentially European colonialists? You drove away nearly TEN TIMES that number of Palestinians by 1948!

  11. lysias on December 12, 2011, 4:41 pm

    Israeli Arabs do have access to the Knesset, but a fat lot of good it does them or their voters. When Parnell’s Irish Nationalists sat in Westminster, they were allowed to act as the balance of power, which was what led to Gladstone supporting Irish Home Rule — and in the end to Irish independence. The Israeli Arab parties, in contrast, are not allowed to take part in forming majorities in the Knesset.

    • Chaos4700 on December 13, 2011, 12:25 am

      Israeli Arabs are also routinely barred from Knesset sessions, and like clockwork every election cycle, have to fight for their right to be counted on ballots in Israeli courts.

    • Avi_G. on December 14, 2011, 12:45 am


      I do not share your pessimistic glass-half-full outlook. I think the Palestinian members of the Knesset form a nice array of decorative ornaments.

      I’m being sarcastic, of course.

  12. Richard Witty on December 14, 2011, 6:05 am

    Newt, Mitt, Bibi and Vladimir
    Published: December 13, 2011

    I have a simple motto when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I love both Israelis and Palestinians, but God save me from some of their American friends — those who want to love them to death, literally.

    I’m sure that someone will declare that Friedman is just a hasbarist, and that his comments have no relevance.

    • MRW on December 14, 2011, 11:12 am

      Why? It was Friedman’s gutsiest piece yet. For Friedman. It’s the right-wingers in Israel that are going to trounce on him, and call him a moser.

    • Donald on December 14, 2011, 11:35 am

      Wrong as usual Richard. You don’t seem to understand that people around here praise or condemn columnists based on what they say and the strength of their arguments. This was one of the rare columns by Friedman worth reading–he actually said that the Israel Lobby caused Congress to clap for Netanyahu. A few years ago no mainstream pundit would have dared say that in public. Friedman is a weathervane–if he is publicly blasting the lobby it means the center left foreign policy establishment is losing patience.

  13. jayn0t on December 14, 2011, 9:40 am

    “Of course the Irish had access to Westminster”. They also had access to Congress, if I can put it like that. What I mean is that people like Ted Kennedy was taken seriously in the US administration, and was part of the ‘lobby’ which eventually led the US to lean on Britain to talk to the IRA. Any politician who tried to get the US to have a more neutral stance on the Israel/Palestine conflict would be out of office.

    • lysias on December 14, 2011, 11:57 am

      Well, yes, U.S. pressure eventually heavily influenced British policy towards Ireland, certainly as early as the grant of dominion status (effectively, independence with some face-saving limitations) to the Irish Free State in 1921, but Gladstone’s conversion to Irish Home Rule occurred in 1885, when I doubt if U.S. opinion would have had much effect on British opinion about and policy towards Ireland. Even as late as 1912-14, when the Asquith government pushed the Third Home Rule Bill through Parliament over House of Lords opposition, I don’t think U.S. opinion had that much effect on these political events in Britain.

  14. MRW on December 14, 2011, 11:27 am

    Queen Victoria loved Ireland. She and her retinue spent nearly every summer at Dublin Castle until the mid-1890s when an Irish Revolutionary tried to kill her, and she never went back. Gladstone died around then, I think. Whatever the Queen liked, everyone around her liked.

    Life was great for the Irish grandees and Lords and Ladies, and especially in Dublin, with Trinity College and the vibrant intellectual life, the theatre, Oscar Wilde, the poets, horses, and booze. They could be naughty and it wouldn’t travel across the pond. It was the poor workers who suffered the famine.

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