Sun, Dec 11, 2011 | Rubin Reports | By Barry Rubin
Fact-Checking Newt Gingrich and the Fact-Checkers on the Middle East
ABC News “fact-checked” Newt Gingrich’s Middle East statements and some readers asked me to fact-check ABC, so here is my view:
Gingrich said Palestinians are an “invented” people. ABC says: Not true.
I think Gingrich was basically correct, but that point isn’t so significant. There is a strong tendency of contemporary experts to argue that pretty much every nationality is invented including the French, British, Italian, Polish, and German.
ABC says that the Palestinian Arabs began to have a consciousness in the 1890s. I cannot imagine what evidence would be brought to make that argument. The bare beginnings were around 1920 when actual groups began to form, though even then the “southern Syria” identity was strong. One is safer at putting the date in the late 1920s.
Yet again I don’t see this point as very significant. What’s important is whether a large portion of the people in question believe that they are a people. Moreover, the same “invented” charge has been made against the Jewish people by Stalin and of course by Arab and Islamist propaganda.
The fact that today, a Palestinian people does exist doesn’t give the Palestinians a right to invent history, of course. ABC News didn’t point out that they regularly claim a history of two thousand years or more. And Golda Meir was pointing to the fact that the dominant politics of the Palestinian movement certainly as late as 1945 was a pan-Arab nationalist one. If the “invention” of a Palestinian (Arab, Muslim) people is relatively recent, though, that does imply that they don’t have a claim to everything between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. And that’s what’s important.
Gingrich also said at the debate that “every day rockets are fired into Israel.” ABC says: True.
Of course, ABC exceeds its “fact-checking” job here by trying to make some anti-Israel propaganda. It gratuitously adds:
No Israelis have been killed by these attacks since Oct. 30 when one man was killed in the southern city of Ashkelon. Nine Palestinians were killed in retaliatory Israeli air strikes….18 rockets were launched at Israel from Gaza since Friday, but no injuries or damages were reported….The Israeli Defense Force struck back against Gaza with aircraft attacks on Friday and Saturday, which killed a Palestinian man and his 12-year-old son and wounded several family members….
What relevance is there to mentioning these Palestinian casualties? Moreover, the implication is that these attacks are only a minor annoyance and that with far more Palestinians being killed that somehow Israel is the aggressor. I’d like to see ABC officials live under constant threat of missile attack and see their children suffer from anxiety as a result. If ABC wanted, it could have given the numbers for the first half of 2011, about 150, or the number for the last three years, about 870. The total for 2010: 150 rockets and 215 mortar shells. In 2009: 569 rockets and 289 mortar shells. (See also here.)
Incidentally, ABC didn’t fact-check Gingrich’s accurate statement that Hamas rejects Israel’s right to exist.
Yet ABC and everyone else missed the real bombshell in what Gingrich said: “For a variety of political reasons we [the United States] have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s, and it’s tragic.”
It would be fascinating to hear Gingrich expand on that point.
More, Glenn Beck: If You Support Newt Instead of Obama, You Might Be a Racist.