Newt Gingrich is the current front-runner in the game of musical chairs that's standing in for the GOP presidential campaign this year, but it's suddenly not clear if Gingrich hopes to take up office in Washington or Jerusalem--is he trying to beat Obama, Romney or Netanyahu? His recent comments appear calculated to place him just to the right of Menachem Begin. Speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition Fourm on Dec. 7, Newt said that "in a Gingrich administration, the opening day, there will be an executive order about two hours after the inaugural address; we will send the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as of that day."
It will come as no surprise that Gingrich considers the Obama administration disloyal to Israel, claiming the administration takes the position “it’s always Israel’s fault no matter how bad the other side is." That “has to stop” and will if he's elected Prez. There will apparently be no doubt where his loyalties lie.
But today, not to be out done by himself, in an interview with The Jewish Channel (hat tip to Ben Stein), Gingrich called into question the existence of the Palestinian people altogether, at least as a nationality. (He did not attempt to dismiss their actual temporal, corporeal reality, which is a relief.)
"Remember there was no Palestine as a state," he graciously schooled his friendly interviewer. "It was part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs, and were historically part of the Arab community. And they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940's, and I think it’s tragic."
Gingrich said he believed that the Jewish people have the right to have a state and accepted "the commitments that were made at [the] time."
I'm guessing he's not referring to the 1948 partition plan; maybe the Balfour Declaration?: "His Majesty's government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country." Well, there's that Palestine thing and that "commitment" seems to have been honored mostly in the breach, so maybe not that one either.
Before he was Candidate Gingrich, he was historian Gingrich; seems he should have a better grasp on the rapidly moving targets of nationality and ethnicity. I wonder what he would make of a Galway-man and a Kerry-man claiming to be something called "Irish" in 1848. Or someone claiming to be an Israeli in 1947 or even a fella introducing himself as an American in 1775. Gingrich's statements suggest that were he in the White House Oslo would be an unpleasant memory and a rapid annexation of what has not already been claimed of the West Bank would probably be AOK. Those pesky Palestinians, I'm sorry, stateless Arabs, that remain in the way may still be something of an obstacle. I guess we'll cross that moral hazard when we have to.
Gingrich may be ahead of Romney in the polls today, but who knows, tomorrow he could be edging out Netanyahu.