I am not invented. The Ethical Accountability of American Presidential Candidates
The last Republican presidential debate, conducted by CNN, produced yet another assault by Republican nominees on the Palestinian people. Newt Gingrich repeated again his infamous statement that we Palestinians are in fact "invented people", this time adding that we are an invention of the late 1970s. (The late 1970s! And he claims to be a historian). Earlier of course, Gingrich has stated that we are all terrorists, and that our text books teach that if there are thirteen Jews and nine are killed, then how many Jews are left? This of course, is factually wrong. The other leading candidate, Mitt Romney, was no better, falsely claiming that our text books teach how to kill Jews, and that we Palestinians do not want a two state solution, and that we want to eliminate the state of Israel.
The notion that we are invented is insulting and condescending to say the least. These claims are not new to us as Palestinians, as we have repeatedly heard them over the years from radical Christian Zionist leaders. But really, who are you to tell me who I am? In the word of Palestinian Christian journalist Daoud Kuttab, "The people themselves are the best authority on what a people is. If the learned Republican nominee really wants to know who Palestinians are, I would suggest he listen to what they say about themselves." Daoud's article is a powerful and personal response to the claims that Palestinians are invented.
These candidates are not ignorant. They know better. These statements are political in nature, and the aim is, of course, to attract American Jewish money and support for their campaign. Or to quote Kuttab again, "Gingrich’s attempt to deny Palestinians their identity has nothing to do with history. It is simply political pandering."
But why should it be at my expense? For how long would these American politicians use us Palestinians as a stepping stone to reach their goals? How many dehumanizing insults do we have to endure? The irony is that these statements are coming from the party that has the majority of the Evangelical support. I am grateful for the support we receive from some Evangelical leaders, but the time has come for more ethical accountability from Christians on such statements. Not only is most of what is said about Palestinians wrong, it is also insulting, dehumanizing, and condescending. And I am afraid it will get worse as the general elections come closer. Enough.