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Invented People?

© Tom Toles

When Newt Gingrich called the Palestinians an “invented people” who had never had their own homeland I was flummoxed. After all, we “Americans” are an invented people, as are almost all modern Arab nations (with the exception of Egypt and Morocco). And while it may be technically true that no Arabs called themselves Palestinians until the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in 1920, the same thing was true of Syria, Lebanon, and even Iraq. When Israel was created at the end of WWII, there were plenty of people there who called themselves Palestinians.

But I really like the fact that this comic points out our most recent “invented people” — corporations.

The point is not whether Gingrich’s inflammatory statement is technically true or not. The real question is why did he say it. What point is he trying to make? That Palestinians have no rights?

When the USA became a real country (and we became a suddenly non-invented people), it did it through bloody revolution against England. Is Gingrich saying that the same process is the only way for Palestinians to gain legitimacy as a people?



  1. Jeff wrote:

    The problem is, we deal with corporations the same way we deal with Israel. It doesn’t matter how much they bully the Palestinians, how much they strong-arm other Middle Eastern nations, we support them completely. Israel and the private business are revered in our country by many (many of whom are conservative), and it’s hard to break those habits. Look what happens to anyone who suggests we choose not to support Israel. Look what happens to anyone who suggest we choose not to support corporations through deregulation and tax cuts. Invented people get all the special treatment.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink
  2. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I can’t comment on “invented people” thats in the politics realm and I’m terrible at treading that ground. I will however comment on Corps as invented people and Israel.
    I personally think its ridiculous to classify a corporation as an entity with equal rights of people. I’m not sure if they have all the same priviledges, but the one that seems to get the most press is concerning contributions. I hear politicians talk trash about out of one side of their mouth while quietly asking for some of that corporate money out of the other side. Our President is a prme example, scolding millionaires and wall st, then inviting them to dinner for their cash. I’d rather see him take a legitimate stance and say know way, no how, no corporate money for me. That alone would probably get him elected from the right and left without any money.
    On Israel, the Jews have always been friends of mainstream America. Indeed some of our Country’s greatest philanthropers are jewish. I live in an area that has a large jewish population and my childrens school is 50% jewish. They are excellent citizens, they take care of their own and they give back tremendously to the community which benefits all. Israel is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Unless we live there we can’t and shouldn’t really comment. Why, because we have no idea what it’s truely like to live under a constant threat. Imagine if Mexico started rocketing the southern US, saying we stole California from them (which we kind of did) and now they want it back. If Mexican rockets, bombs and mortars were killing us would we say “OK Mexico, you can have Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas back”. I doubt it. I can see it now asking 40 million Americans to abandon their homes, businesses and moving to Wyoming. Then what if France wanted its part and Spain and not to mention the Indians. Do we all pack up and go home? Thats what saying Israel shouldn’t defend itself is like, to me. In 67 the Arabs attacked and got their butts handed to them and as a result lost the west bank. Now they want it back for the Palestinians? Do we give back California?
    That rant being said, I do think if the Arab league, Palestinians, US and Israel sit down at the same table and places like Jordan and Syria and Saudi Arabia are all willing to chip in alittle land along with Israel, they could get a deal worked out. They’ve all also got to condemn the terrorist organizations and take action to dismantle them.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink
  3. Hassan wrote:

    @PatriotSGT, why are you grouping all jews together? There could be good individuals, bad individuals just like any other subset of humans.

    Another thing, latinos that were left in Texas, California etc, are full equal citizens. Secondly, US does not make any settlements in Mexico, it stays within its acquired border. Does US do ethnic cleansing of latinos in Texas and California to make it democracy for whites only?

    Do you think that Israel birth was without violence and terrorism? You say you can not imagine living under constant threat? Well how about living under occupation?

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink
  4. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Hassan – I am very aware that there are good/bad peoples in every group including Israelis, Arabs, Mexicans and Americans.

    living under occupation- is what the native americans must do. If we want to expand that to a historical perspective of all nations then I think we’d have to list many people in the world as living under occupation, would we not?

    And arn’t there Arab Israelis who live and work in Israel and treated as full citizens?

    I’m just saying that we Americans sitting in our comfortable living rooms shouldn’t really comment on what the Israeli and Palestinian situation is. We havn’t expereinced either sides viewpoint or condition. Us telling either side what they should do or actions they should take would be like someone telling us to give back California to Mexico. We’d flip um the bird and tell them to mind their own business, so why should we attempt to dictate what Israel or Paleetine should do?

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink
  5. Iron Knee wrote:

    Since I just spent over a month in the Middle East (including Israel) and not in my comfortable living room, am I allowed to comment on the situation there?

    Actually, Arabs living in Israel are not treated as full citizens. Remember, Israel is explicitly a Jewish state.

    But the situation is not that clear cut. Palestinian Arabs living in neighboring Middle Eastern states are typically treated worse than Arabs living in Israel. But that doesn’t excuse Israel.

    Pretty much every nation has in its history that it took the land away from some other population (yes, including the American Indians, and including the Palestinian Arabs). The issue of who has rights to a country is never ever clear.

    And PatriotSgt, your analogy to California is false. If the US were a small country (say just the size of California) completely surrounded by Latin American countries from whom California was created, you can bet they would be trying to take it back. Saying that we would flip Mexico the bird if they asked for California back is just saying that “might makes right”.

    Why should we attempt to dictate what Israel (or Palestine) should do? Because we frigging created Israel after WWII (along with the British and French), and they completely depend on support (financial and political) from us. Duh!

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  6. PatriotSGT wrote:

    IK – I get your point(s). But, did we create Israel as a puppet of the “big 3” or did we establish the country to be its own entity. Since we helped free Iraq many nations do we expect to hold power? I don’t think you’d agree that we should expect any soveriegn nation that we had a hand in freeing or creating to listen to what we tell them, with our foreign policy record. Come on, thats like asking Goldman Sachs for advice on how to run a company. Oh I forgot, we did that hiring Geithner as the Treas Sec. Given our perfect foreign policy record that you are apt to point out (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran) why do we think we know all the answers?

    On Mexico I guess I am implying that size matters and maybe thats wrong, but it is what it is. We did it, expanded our country borders with it, whats wrong with Israel doing it. They didn’t ask to be attacked in 67 or start the war.

    Thanks for your insight on the middle east. My point is most of us here in America know little to nothing about “over there”. Why do we think we know best given what I stated above concerning our foreign policy record. The Arabs don’t want the Palestinians, they don’t want Israel, so they naturally want Israel to give up what they have.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Permalink