There's been some controversy generated by the statement GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich gave to the Jewish Channel in which he called today's Palestinians "an invented people." The former House Speaker was entirely correct in citing history in which Palestine was a geographic area whose residents included Christians, Jews and Arabs. But today of course it defines Arabs, many of whom have stated they would remove or kill every Jew in Israel if given the chance.
These same so-called "Palestinians" whose atrocities include attacking school buses with children inside and more recently butchering a Jewish family as they slept were upset by Gingrich's remarks, calling them "racist."
The question came up at Saturday's GOP debate in Iowa and there was an interesting exchange between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich which showed how each man might govern. It was very instructive:
I have to admit I like Gingrich's answer. Especially the part about "even if it's at the risk of causing some confusion sometimes with the timid." We have been far too "timid" to call the Palestinians out on their atrocities and to be as forceful and direct with them as we often are with the Israelis.
Cue the player to the 1:30 mark
From the complete transcript
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Speaker Gingrich, as I've said, this has caused quite a reaction in-- in the Middle East. The chief Palestinian negotiator, Sa-- Saeb Erekat, said, "Mark my words: These statements of Gingrich will be the ammunition and weapons of the bin Ladens and the extremists for a long, long time."
SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: How would he know the difference? Look from historic, George, simply. Is-- is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes. Are we in a situation where every day, rockets are fired into Israel while the United States, the current administration, tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process?
Hamas does not admit the-- the right of Israel to exist, and says publicly, "Not a single Jew will remain." The Palestinian Authority ambassador to India said last month, "There is no difference between Fatah and Hamas. We both agree Israel has no right to exist."
Somebody oughta have the courage to tell the truth: These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, "If there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?" We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. It's fundamentally-- time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, "Enough lying about the Middle East."
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Romney, (APPLAUSE) you just heard the Speaker say he was just telling the truth. Do you take any issue with that characterization of the Palestinians as an invented people?
GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: I-- I happen to agree with-- with most of what the speaker said, except by going down and saying the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the speaker's part. I-- I think-- you-- you-- I think the speaker would probably suggest that as well. I-- I don't think we want to--
(SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: Shakes head and mouthes "NO")
GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: --and the-- and the United States of America should not jump ahead of Bibi Netanyahu and say something that makes it more difficult for him to-- to do his job. My view is this: We stand with the Israeli people. We link arms with them. If we disagree with them, like this president has time and time again, we don't do it in public like he's done it, we do it in private.
And we let the Israeli leadership describe what they believe the right course is going forward. We don't negotiate for the Israeli people. We stand with the Israeli people, stand with our friends, and make it very clear: We are gonna t-- we're gonna tell the truth, but we're not gonna throw incendiary words into a-- a place which is-- a boiling pot when our friends the Israelis would probably say, "What in the world are you doin'?"
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So there you have it, Mr. Speaker. He says this is gonna make life more difficult for the Israelis.
SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: The Israelis are getting rocketed every day. The-- we're not making life more difficult. The Obama administration's making life more difficult. The fact is, the Palestinian claim to a right of return is based on a historically false story. Somebody oughta have the courage to go all the way back to the 1921 League of Nations mandate for a Jewish homeland, point out the context in which Israel came into existence, and "Palestinian" did not become a common term until after 1977. This is a propaganda war in which our side refuses to engage. And we refuse to tell the truth when the other side lies. And you're not gonna win the long run if you're afraid to stand firm and stand for the truth.
GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: Of course you s-- of course you stand firm, and stand for the truth. But you don't speak for Israel.
SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: I didn't.
GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: And I'm president of the United States, I will exercise sobriety, care, stability. And make sure that in a setting like this, anything I say that can affect a place with-- with rockets going in, with people dying, I don't do anything that would harm that-- that process.
And therefore, before I made a statement of that nature, I'd get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say, "Would it help if I said this? What would you like me to do? Let's work together, because we're partners." I'm not a bomb thrower, rhetorically or literally.
DIANE SAWYER: Under the rules, we need-- your response. (APPLAUSE)
SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH: I think sometimes it is helpful to have a president of the United States with the courage to tell the truth, just as was Ronald Reagan who went around his entire national security apparatus to call the Soviet Union an evil empire and who overruled his entire State Department in order to say, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Reagan believed the power of truth restated the world and reframed the world. I am a Reaganite, I'm proud to be a Reaganite. I will tell the truth, even if it's at the risk of causing some confusion sometimes with the timid.
Like Reagan, we need a president who isn't afraid to call evil by it's name. And that applies to the Palestinians and to all terrorists who perpetuate attacks on innocent civilians. Romney's answer is laced with the kind of political correctness that makes the moral clarity necessary for strong leadership and effective action more difficult.
And that same "let's not upset anyone" attitude could apply as well in domestic politics where a Romney might be less inclined to take on Democrats over big issues like health care and cutting spending.
A true leader knows he cannot please everyone and shouldn't try. A strong leader knows the power of truth and uses it to good advantage. Those who try and appease both sides generally fail to achieve great goals and often make things worse by their indifference to the truth!