Newt and the Israelis
See, here’s the thing. We’re Americans. In America, nationality is what nation you live in. But it is only here in America that lines on a map determine nationality. In most of the world, people identify their nationality by language, culture and ethnicity. If you speak German, are culturally German and are descended from Germans, you are German whether you live in Poland, the Czech Republi, or in Germany proper. Your forefathers can have lived on a plot of land in the Czech Republic for 100 years, you can be the 3rd generation born in the Czech Republic, and you are still German as far as everybody in Germany and the Czech Republic are concerned.
Similarly if you speak Mandarin, are ethnically Han Chinese and are culturally Chinese, then you are Chinese whether you live in China, Vietnam, or Indonesia. That is, the nation you live in doesn’t define your nationality in most of the world, rather, your language, culture, and ethnicity does. And from that perspective, there isn’t a Palestinian people — there are merely Arabs, who speak the same language as all other Arabs, who have the same culture as all other Arabs, who are genetically identical to all other Arabs.
Now, back to Gingrich’s statement. Gingrich was merely paraphrasing Israel PM Golda Meir’s statements from the early 1970s. Golda Meir was one of the founders of the modern state of Israel and her statement was typical of the attitude of the founders of Israel. Remember, the founders of Israel were European. From their perspective, there was no such thing as a Palestinian people because there is no distinct Palestinian language, culture and ethnicity.
From their perspective there were Arabs who happened to be citizens of a pseudo-state called “Palestine” that did not exist prior to 1920, a pseudo-state set up by Britain as part of the division of the Ottoman province of Trans-Jordan at the fall of the Ottoman Empire, a pseudo-state populated by people who were no different culturally, ethnically or genetically from any other Arab, who had a dozen other Arab states similarly created from thin air after the fall of the Ottoman Empire to go to. From their perspective, the “Palestinian Problem” was a problem caused by Arab rulers refusing to take in their Arab brothers as citizens and had nothing to do with Israel.
From that perspective, what Gingrich said made sense. Gingrich’s problem is that the facts on the ground are different than in 1973. Israel agreed to create a Palestinian nationality (which is still not a Palestinian people from their POV, just another fake nationality created by Europeans) and set up a Bantustan-style “Palestinian Authority” on the Gaza Strip and West Bank as part of their peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.
In exchange Egypt and Jordan gave up their territorial claims on the Gaza Strip and West Bank and Yasser Arafat agreed to lead said Bantustan in exchange for stopping attacks on Israel. Gingrich’s view is still held by the vast majority of Israelis, who do not view Palestinians as a people, just as a fake nationality created by Europeans as part of their division of the Arab people after WW1, but Israel is not living up to their half of the agreements that they agreed to, which do not allow “settlers” on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. That, and not Gingrich’s statements (which to a certain extent are factually true from the point of view of most of the world), are the real issue here.
Note that my explanation of what Israelis think does not mean that I condone or encourage such thinking. Long-term it’s a recipe for utter disaster for reasons adequately explained elsewhere. I’m just telling you things you probably don’t know because you won’t hear them in the left-wing echo chamber — indeed, that you’re unlikely to hear anywhere outside of Israel, unless you are talking to actual Israelis.