The National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA), a coalition of Jewish leaders and heads of Jewish, pro-Israel, pro-America organizations in America and abroad, welcomed on Tuesday recent comments by Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, who last week told The Jewish Channel that the claim of Palestinian Authority Arabs to be “a people” is not legitimate.
The former Speaker of the House of Representatives said in the interview, “Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire" until the early 20th century.
“I think that we’ve invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs, and who were historically part of the Arab community,” he said. “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 1940s and it's tragic.” he said.
The remarks angered the Palestinian Authority, with PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad having told reporters in response the remarks were “extremely trivial, demeaning and ridiculous.”
“Even the most extremist settlers of Israel wouldn’t talk in such a ridiculous way,” Fayyad said. “Our people have been here from the beginning, and they are determined to remain on their land until the end.”
In a statement it released, the NCJA said that it “is pleased that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich affirmed what many have historically known, which is that there never was an indigenous Arab ‘Palestinian’ people, race, or religion with their own language, flag, distinct culture, history, or national identity.”
The statement noted, “There were a few pockets of Arabs scattered in the area that were in no way distinct in national character from any of their fellow Arabs among the population of Middle East. Indeed, the term ‘Palestinian’ was used to refer to Jews since Roman times living in that territory. Yassir Arafat and other collaborators co-opted and politicized the term ‘Palestinian’ to refer to the collection of various Arab individuals whom Arab leaders forcibly congregated in settlements so as to create a visible presence for the purpose of making claims on territory belonging historically and legally to the Jewish People.”
“We commend Mr. Gingrich for his unique courage in stating the historical reality and standing against those who would falsify history so as to grab the land belonging to the Jewish People and to seize decades of Jewish accomplishment and centuries of attachment,” NCJA said.
“With this in mind,” the coalition added, “it is time that the world begin questioning the entire concept of an Arab ‘Palestinian’ state in the Land of Israel, especially so when the British Mandate clearly declared that the Arab state in that region was to be located in what today is Jordan.”