Frontrunner-of-the-month GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich caused a stir at Saturday night’s Iowa debate when he affirmed his previous characterization of “an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and were historically part of the Arab community.”
For once, Gingrich is correct.
The label “Palestine” was used historically to refer to the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River (and beyond); the term had no political import. During the first half of the 20th century, “Palestinian” referred largely to Jews living in Palestine. The Palestine Post, for example, was printed in Hebrew and English, and in 1950 was renamed The Jerusalem Post.
The British, who controlled Palestine after WWI, divided it in two in 1923, giving 75% of the land—the area that is now Jordan—to Palestinian Arabs, and the remaining 25% to Palestinian Jews. But that wasn’t good enough to satisfy regional Arab despots.
In 1947, the United Nations proposed a partition plan to create side-by-side Jewish and Arab states out of the 25% that was left of the original Palestine, west of the Jordan River. The Arab regimes surrounding Palestine rejected this deal; this resulted in the 1947-1948 Civil War and the creation of the Jewish state. read more »