For weeks now, candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have tripped over one another in the frenzied competition to announce their love for Israel. Mitt Romney has promised that it will be the first country he visits as president. Rick Perry insists that he will confront Iran head-on to protect Israel from being ‘wiped off the face of the earth’. Newt Gingrich took it to another level when, in an interview with the Jewish Channel, he said that the Palestinians are an ‘invented people’. He repeated the assertion a few days later, comparing himself to Ronald Reagan for having the ‘courage to tell the truth’.
Today, just as 100 years ago, when they called Palestine ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’, the denial of the existence of the Palestinian people is widespread among Zionists. Its superficial form has changed – instead of the Palestinians, it is Palestine that does not exist; the ‘Palestinians’ can call themselves whatever they like – but the thrust is the same.
In my first week at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003, a freshman in my class asked me where I was from. ‘Palestine,’ I said. She looked at me for a moment. ‘There’s no such thing,’ she said.
The unacknowledged truth is that Israel/Palestine is already one country. A visitor from outerspace (or America) would struggle to isolate one from the other. Israeli settlements penetrate the West Bank, cantonising the territory. Jewish-only roads snake through it. Israeli pipes draw water from Palestinian aquifers beneath Gaza and the West Bank. Rick Santorum bunglingly acknowledged the reality when he said that ‘all the people that live in the West Bank are Israelis. They are not Palestinians. There is no “Palestinian”. This is Israeli land.’ Santorum meant to deny the existence of the Palestinians, but he mangled the lie and unintentionally claimed Israeli citizenship for the 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, depicting Israel as an apartheid state that disenfranchises half its citizens.
Gingrich’s remarks about the Palestinians being an ‘invented people’ were endorsed by the Zionist casino billionaire and friend of Binyamin Netanyahu, Sheldon Adelson, who said on 26 December: ‘Read the history of those who call themselves Palestinians, and you will hear why Gingrich said recently that the Palestinians are an invented people.’ Though there may have been another reason: earlier this month Adelson donated $5 million to Gingrich’s campaign.