Who or What is Palestine?

After this past weekend’s GOP presidential debate, it seems the main focus has been aimed Newt Gingrich’s comment referring to the Palestinians as an ‘invented people.’  Even fellow Republican candidates are already attacking him for his comment.

So it may shock you to know that until a century ago, the people who referred to themselves as Palestinians were the Jews.  Before Israel became a free state in May of 1948, they referred to themselves not only as Jews but as Palestinians also.

In 1920, the term Palestine actually was a secular term pertaining to a purely Jewish and Christian concept.  The British forces occupying the area in April of 1920 first created a Palestine in the region.  The local Arabs found the term to be extremely repulsive as they understood it to be a victory for Zionism and they protested the entire affair.

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Following Israel’s independence in 1948, there was a substantial amount of growth and development in the area.  Large numbers of Arabs moved into the region because of the number of jobs that had been created.

The heavy influx of Arabs and as a response to the recent formation of Israel, Amin Husseini, the mufti or Arab leader in Jerusalem at the time, tried to declare an All-Palestine Government over Gaza in October of 1948.  The declaration was made before the Palestine National Council.  However, at that time, Egypt ruled Gaza and they declined to acknowledge the declaration.

As Israel’s prosperity increased, so did the tension between them and the Arabs around them.  In June 1967, war erupted between Israel and several of its neighbors.  In the matter of 6 days, Israel more than doubled their size when they seized control of the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.

November 1988 saw a second attempt to establish a Palestinian state when Yasser Arafat called for a free Palestinian state.  However, since Israeli has occupied the Gaza since 1967, Arafat made his declaration from Algiers, over 1,800 miles away.

So who are the Palestinians today?  Historically they were the Jews, but today they are the Arabs and Arab descendants that prospered from the formation of Israel.

Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich is an historian and as such it should be no surprise to learn that he is correct when he referred to Palestinians as an ‘invented people.’

A century ago, the very idea of Arab Muslims being associated with Palestine was repugnant and offensive to them.  They invented themselves in 1948 as a direct result of Israel’s independence.  Repugnance was replaced with religious zealotry and a people invented themselves.

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