Newt Gingrich has said that the "Palestinians are an invented people." He repeated that in the Des Moines Republican debate last Saturday night. Those of us who have been working with the Palestinians for many years are desperately trying to help our Palestinians friends understand the background of his statement. They are confused and hurt, especially the Christians.
It's hard to do: to explain that a significant American political figure (who aspires to the presidency) holds the attitudes that Gingrich displayed. "What's going on?" my Palestinian colleagues ask. And, as if his statement isn't enough, many of my evangelical friends "pile on" to Gingrich's position. A lady said to me recently, "There is no such thing as Palestine." She is a "fine, evangelical Christian" leader in our community.
May God have mercy upon us. Even our faith is being co-opted by secular politics. The fact is that those who truly support Israel will see the impending danger to Israel in Gingrich's kind of foreign policy. Many people, including Jews such as M.J. Rosenberg and Thomas Friedman understand that Israel can only survive if it ends the occupation and supports the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.
And the great irony is that many who call themselves "pro-Israel" repeatedly and consistently promote policies that endanger the very survival of Israel. As one commentator put it, "Too bad so many lives are at stake. Not to mention a 1,900 year-old dream.