US Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has come under a lot of fire for saying that the ‘Palestinians’ are an invented people. Most have ridiculed Gingrich by pointing out there are clearly millions of Arabs living in so-called Palestine.
ISRAEL TODAY But Gingrich wasn’t talking about the physical presence of those people today, but rather the national identity they have adopted and the fact that most immigrated to the land not so long ago.
In a televised address on Al-Hekma TV last week, Hamas Minister of the Interior and of National Security Fathi Hammad basically backed up Gingrich’s assessment, acknowledging that the roots of most “Palestinians” are elsewhere in the Middle East, and that the Palestinian label is only a thin veneer.
Those pushing for a Palestinian state try to paint the Palestinian Arabs as somehow distinct from the Arabs round-about, and therefore in need of their own state. Not so, said Hammad.
ALLAH be praised, we all have Arab roots, and every Palestinian, in Gaza and throughout Palestine, can prove his Arab roots – whether from Saudi Arabia, from Yemen, or anywhere. We have blood ties. So where is your affection and mercy?
Personally, half my family is Egyptian. We are all like that. More than 30 families in the Gaza Strip are called Al-Masri [“Egyptian”]. Brothers, half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudis.
More than that, Hammad stated that the true regional background of most “Palestinians” is not in “Palestine.”
Who are the Palestinians? We have many families called Al-Masri, whose roots are Egyptian…Egyptian! They may be from Alexandria, from Cairo, from Dumietta, from the North, from Aswan, from Upper Egypt. We are Egyptians. We are Arabs. We are Muslims. We are a part of you.
Ah, but when it comes to becoming citizens of those Arab countries that they came from, then they are all “Palestinian” and must be treated like lepers – in order to protect their own nation, of course.
Palestinian Arab nationalism does not reflect any inherent peoplehood but rather it is a political fiction created only in the twentieth century, and only to destroy Zionism. And Fathi Hammad knows the truth, as do many other Arabs. They just won’t be caught dead saying it to Westerners.
The logical conclusion from Hammad’s statements is that Palestinian Arabs should be allowed, if they want to, to become citizens of any Arab country they desire – just as other Arabs can. Human rights groups should be in the forefront of that movement. The Arab nations who refuse to do so are engaging in worse discrimination against Palestinian Arabs than anyone else.
Yet Human Rights Watch is against this simple human right, and for that reason alone it deserves to be exposed as a hypocritical sham. Not to mention the Arab states who self-righteously pretend to support Palestinian Arab while they are in the forefront of keeping them stateless and miserable.
Hammad’s remarks were undoubtedly never intended for a Western audience. Rather, he was pleading with Egypt and other neighboring states to supply Hamas-ruled Gaza with free fuel, which Hammad said Hamas would use “in order to continue to wage Jihad.”