Newt Gingrich and the “Invented” Palestinian People

The former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and current Republican presidential candidate said recently that “there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire. We have invented the Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs and are historically part of the Arab people, and they had the chance to go many places.”

Everyone from the PLO to a Mitt Romney spokesman jumped on Gingrich for this assertion, but he happens to be absolutely correct: no Arabic-speaking Muslims identified themselves as “Palestinian” until 1920, when, in rapid order this appellation and identity was adopted by the Muslim Arabs living in the British mandate of Palestine.

For details, see a long article of mine from 1989 on the topic or a short one from 2000.

Daniel Pipes

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Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and the author of several books, including Militant Islam Reaches America and In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (Transaction Publishers), from which this column derives.

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