Newt Gingrich and Dave Weigel Will Bomb Knowledge Back to the Stone Age


Dave Weigel is a history buff:

[Newt Gingrich’s] last full-on grapple with Romney came when the former governor attacked him, in a sort of more-in-sorrow-than-anger way, for saying that the Palestinians were an “invented people.” That, said Romney, was complicating things for Israelis.

“The Israelis are getting rocketed every day,” snorted Gingrich. “We’re not making life more difficult. The Obama administration is making life more difficult.” Plus, he was right on the facts. “Palestinian did not become a common term until after 1977.” That’s the sort of knowledge-bomb that Republicans dream of dropping on Obama—they feel like this is right, but here’s a candidate who can say so.

I suppose we could argue over the definition of “common term.” I did a very fast, very lazy search for “Palestinian” on EBSCOhost. Five seconds’ work turned up references to Palestinians — in the Oxford English Dictionary sense of “an Arab born or living in the area of the former mandated territory of Palestine; a descendant of such an Arab” — going back to 1922.

That earliest reference was in The Nation, which used the term fairly often in the Twenties. But maybe The Nation lacks the common touch. What about Time magazine? Is that common enough for Newt and Dave? The magazine recommended by four out of five dentists began using “Palestinian” in the relevant sense in 1951. For a while, Time used it only before “Arab,” if that makes any difference, but as early as November 1957 the Arab part seemed to be understood:

At one time Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser commended himself to the world as a strongman of reason, more concerned to put his impoverished country on its feet than to stir trouble in the Middle East. But Nasser has increasingly resorted to the incendiary propaganda of the totalitarian dictator, has persistently used his radio Voice of the Arabs to incite the Palestinian refugees in Jordan, who brood in bitter idleness over their lost lands across the border in Israel.

By November 1960, Time considered “Palestinian” a noun:

Last week Pakistan’s Moslem President Mohammed Ayub Khan arrived in Cairo and throwing away a diplomatically phrased set speech, delivered the sharpest criticisms of Moslems by a Moslem heard in many a year.

Ayub spoke plainly on his view of the long-festering problem of refugees along the Israeli border, where more than a million Palestinians—those who fled or were ejected by Israel, and the children born to them since—still inhabit squalid detention camps in Jordan, Syria and the Gaza Strip.

In fairness, I have yet to discover the first use of “Palestinian” in Highlights or the works of Michael Bay, so you can keep believing Newt Gingrich if you like.

Weigel link via Daniel Larison.

UPDATE: Dave Weigel, to his credit, has revised the article in question.

If That Ain’t (a) Country, It’ll Harelip the Pope

Noah Feldman discusses a possible outcome of the Palestinian statehood bid:

He [Mahmoud Abbas] could also still do what most expected him to try this week: Take his request for statehood to the UN General Assembly, where the U.S. has no veto. A two-thirds vote there would upgrade Palestine from “observer entity” to “observer state,” like the Vatican.

Winning in the General Assembly might be particularly effective after losing in the Security Council since it would give countries the chance to repudiate the U.S. veto. And an observer state can participate in UN bodies and commissions.

International Court Jurisdiction

More practically, recognition as an observer state might help the Palestinian Authority reach its goal of getting the International Criminal Court to pronounce on Israel’s behavior in the territories and perhaps even declare the building of settlements a war crime. While the Palestinian leadership has asked the tribunal to take jurisdiction as if Palestine were a state, the ICC has never said “yes” or “no.” If Palestine becomes an observer state at the UN, however, that might strengthen its case.

Israel would certainly argue that a UN observer still isn’t a real state in the sense meant by the ICC treaty. Israel would also point out that the ICC can’t act if a country that has jurisdiction over an alleged crime has adequately investigated it. Israel’s robust judicial system regularly examines claims of war crimes against its soldiers and government. The question is whether the court would buy those arguments — and whether leverage would be gained for the peace process as a result.

Consider me skeptical about the virtues of giving the International Criminal Court a bigger caseload. Brendan O’Neill and Rob Lyons have raised timely objections to that institution’s image as a guarantor of peace and justice. At best, ICC charges against Israeli officials will achieve nothing. At worst, they will make the Israeli government — and, therefore, the U.S. government — even more intransigent.

Before you start typing that furious comment, let me explain something. I don’t think or write about Israeli-Palestinian issues much anymore, for two main reasons. One, I have enough tedium, futility, and hopelessness in my life already without the “peace process,” thanks, and two, any mention of Israel attracts the sort of people (on both sides) who could make a sunnier person than I wish that an asteroid would wipe out our sorry species. All I care to say about the matter these days — and I know that it’s terribly uncosmopolitan — is that the U.S. government should completely withdraw from the dispute and let the people who actually live there resolve their differences. Or not resolve them. Withdrawal might not lead to the lion lying down with the lamb, but it would solve the only problem that the U.S. government is capable of solving: the blowback that comes from intervening in other people’s fights.Who will disarm the papists?

As for the Palestinian ploy at the United Nations, perhaps it will result in an entirely new framework for fruitless discussion. For instance: Are the Vatican and Palestine real states, magically endowed with moral prerogatives to kill and dispossess that individuals and voluntary associations don’t have? Stay tuned!

How to become collateral damage #37

Israeli military ‘regrets’ killing wrong man in Hamas raid, Unarmed Palestinian Amr Qawasme was shot dead during IDF operation to arrest militants in Hebron, Harriet Sherwood,, Friday 7 January 2011 16.03 GMT


In the occupied West Bank, Israeli troops killed a 65-year-old Palestinian civilian named Amr Qawasme in a pre-dawn house raid earlier today in Hebron. Amr Qawasme’s wife Sopheye said the troops stormed into his bedroom while he was sleeping.

Sopheye Qawasme: "He wasn’t even awake. They just entered the door and shot him right away. I had gone to pray. When I came back, they told me. I have no idea how they just broke into the house and shot him. They came at me and put a rifle to my head, and they shot him again."

The Israeli military confirmed that Amr Qawasme was a civilian, but said the raid was justified because a member of Hamas was living in the building. –Israeli Troops Kill 65-Year-Old Man in Home Raid, Democracy NOW! Headlines, January 7, 2011

So you better know ALL your neighbors – – – AND their politics.

But don’t worry, it couldn’t happen here! At least not too often – – –

PR Advice to the Palestinians

I’ve heard a certain criticism countless times over the years, but after seeing it three times in two days on the same site, I decided to do a little research. From that vast repository of respectable opinion, The Atlantic, here are Jeffrey Goldberg, Andrew Sullivan, and Megan McArdle with the idea du jour:

Jeffrey Goldberg:
“I don’t know yet exactly what happened at sea when a group of Israeli commandos boarded a ship packed with not-exactly-Gandhi-like anti-Israel protesters.”

Andrew Sullivan:
“The violence by the activists is pretty abhorrent. These are not followers of Gandhi or MLK Jr.”

Megan McArdle:
“Very clearly, these guys were not the next incarnation of Gandhi; they were on that mission spoiling for a fight.”

Now, unlike these three worthies, I’m just a rube who majored in booze at Football Tech, so I didn’t know much about this Gandhi fella. I wondered, what exactly would Gandhi have the Palestinians and their supporters do? What would earn them a pat on the head from serious, right-thinking Americans?

Luckily, I didn’t have to look very far to find a possible answer:

As an inspiration and a symbol, Gandhi has no peer in the 20th century; as a practical politician, he was a despair to his colleagues in the Indian national movement. His insistence on non-violence grew more extreme as he aged: during the war, he recommended to the British that they should “invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions.” And in an interview given after the war, he went so far as to say that “the Jews [in Europe] should have offered themselves to the butcher’s knife. They should have thrown themselves into the sea from cliffs.

The things you learn on the intertubes! Well, there you go, Palestinians (and Turks, and Jewish Americans to the left of Jeffrey Goldberg): kill yourselves. When the last one of you is gone, The Atlantic will hold a special symposium on your righteousness.

Jerusalem Post Cranks Out More Hasbara Fodder

In the course of approving news links this morning, I read this article from the Jerusalem Post that claims that Hamas has taken to seizing and selling truckloads of international aid “to the highest bidders.” I looked for a few minutes for a mention of this in other publications, but the only material I found were stories that mentioned the one in the Post.

Of course it’s not completely implausible that Hamas would do such a thing in order to raise funds to fight the invading Israeli Army, but newspapers like the Jerusalem Post do not inspire confidence that this story is true, especially since Hamas is normally an organization that spends money on charitable works in Palestine. This is likely just another bit of fodder to disseminate to the worldwide hasbara machine.

Until we see corroboration by any other news organization, this item will not be presented as news. I guess that’s what Israel gets for banning press coverage.

The Spineless Huffington Post Gives ‘Equal Time’

Huffington Post was so very kind this week to give space to almost frustratingly moderate Palestinian intellectual Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi. In his well-reasoned article, “Palestine’s Guernica and the Myths of Israeli Victimhood,” he supplied all the basic facts behind the problems in Palestine. One would expect the hordes of so-called “liberal” Democrat ignoramuses who infect that publication’s comment areas to bleat tired, false old bromides about Israel’s porcelain-white innocence in the face of attacks by grizzled Arab barbarians, but what gives with the long disclaimer marring the top of Barghouthi’s article?

“HuffPo” runs all kinds of commentary from all over the political spectrum (or at least its leftish side), but only those who dare speak against the sainted Israelis seem to require an editorial explanation that resembles an apology.

Shame on Huffington Post for its disgusting lack of integrity.