Look who’s talking about ‘invented’ peoples!

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Look who’s talking about ‘invented’ peoples!
By RAY HANANIA 12/13/2011 JERUSALEM POST — Yalla Peace: If Newt Gingrich wants to talk about national identities with no historical record, he need look no further than his own country – the United States.

In his bid to pander to Jewish American voters and demonstrate that he is closer to Israel than most Israelis, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich declared that Palestinians are an “invented people.” Gingrich, while being interviewed on a right-wing American Jewish cable TV program, said that they were just “Arabs” and had never existed as a people prior to 1948.

But in a demonstration of how Gingrich is merely pandering for Jewish votes, and that he is not completely stupid, he had a spokesman explain later that he is “committed” to the creation of a Palestinian state as a part of a solution to the century-long conflict.

American politicians long have exploited Israel as a means of attracting votes and money. Viewing the Jewish community as a bank plays into the pernicious stereotype that all Jews are wealthy.

And while I think most American Jews are smart enough to see through Gingrich’s ignorance – although they are not quite good enough to marry Israelis, according to some right-wing Israeli politicians – what Gingrich said is offensive and racist.

First of all, there’s the statement itself. What does it mean that the Palestinians are an “invented”? That they didn’t live in Palestine prior to 1948? Is he calling irrelevant the fact that my father was born in Jerusalem and that his family goes back more than 15 generations there? Secondly, when was Israel ever a nation? More than 2,000 years ago? And what kind of nation was it? Was it democratic? Where Jews the first inhabitants of Palestine? Using logic such as Gingrichs’, many anti- Semites can and do argue that Israelis are an invention, too.

The people who should be most offended are Americans. If we are going to talk about an “invented” people and nation, what fits the bill more than America, which was “invented” by pilgrims who fled Europe and then, after being welcomed by the Native American “Indians” proceeded to steal the Native Americans’ lands for themselves. They then confined the Native Americans on “reservations” only recently giving them compensation and special privileges, like operating casinos.

IS THAT what Israelis want in an American president? An idiot willing to say anything for money and votes? How dependable would Gingrich really be in defending Israel if he so easily panders to popular whims? Every candidate for major national office panders to Jewish voters. If I were Jewish, I’d be insulted.

The far Republican Right panders to Jewish and Israeli interests more than any American political group and they are most closely involved with the Christian Evangelical movement.

And what do Christian Evangelicals believe? Well, they believe that the messiah will not come until Israel is established and the Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem.

But do they believe that Jews will be treated any differently than other non-Christians afterwards? No. In fact, while they support Israel for that very fundamental Christian belief, they also believe in “Part B” of their Book of Revelation: that when the messiah does return, he’ll only take true Christians and everyone else, including Jews, will burn in hell.

As far as fundamentalist Christian support for Israel is concerned, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is that they view Israel as a means to an end. They can’t have the “rapture” unless Israel achieves its goals. But, to be saved, Jews will have to also embrace Jesus as the messiah and the Christian religion, which in effect means renouncing their own Judaism.

Personally, as a Christian, I have a strong belief in the fundamentals of the Jewish religion.

Though I am not a Jew (I’m married to one) I see Jews and Christians as being children of the same God and spiritual belief structure.

Christians would not be here were it not for Judaism.

But I don’t think pandering to get votes is a good way to build a foundation for peace in the Middle East.

The only answer to the Arab-Israeli conflict is to eliminate the fanatics and extremists who exist on both sides. And among those fanatics, at the head of the line, stands Gingrich, an American politician who is weighed down with more baggage than Ben-Gurion Airport.

The only “invented” person here is Newt Gingrich – a phony, shallow politician who has proven that there is nothing he won’t say to claim power in the United States.

The writer is an award winning columnist and radio talk show host. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com.

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

RAY HANANIA — Columnist

Ray Hanania is an award winning political columnist and author. He covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at TheArabDailyNews.com, TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com

Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
Ray Hanania