To date, the Republican presidential primary race has been the only place to have generated any useful contributions to America's collective understanding of current events in the Middle East. Last month, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich became the first major political figure in more than a generation to pour cold water over the Palestinian myth of indigenous peoplehood by stating the truth, that the Palestinians are an "invented people."
As Gingrich explained, their invention came in response to Zionism, the Jewish national liberation movement. Since they were created somewhere around 1920, the Palestinians' main purpose has not been the establishment of a Palestinian state but the obliteration of the Jewish state.
For his truth telling, Gingrich was attacked by fellow politicians and policy hands on both sides of the ideological divide. To his credit, Gingrich has not backed away from the truth he spoke. Rather he has repeated it in two subsequent Republican candidates' debates.
The second important contribution that Republican presidential candidates have made to the discourse on the Middle East was undertaken by Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a candidates' debate in South Carolina on January 17, shortly before he pulled out of the race. When asked about Turkey, Perry said that country "is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists." He went on to say that the US ought to be having a debate about whether Turkey should continue to serve as a member of NATO.
Like Gingrich, Perry was pilloried by all right thinking people in the US foreign policy elite. And like Gingrich, Perry was right. The hoopla his statement generated showed just how destructive so much of America's received wisdom about the Middle East has become. Moreover, it demonstrated the extent to which the US has adopted Middle East policies that are inimical to its national interests.
After Hamas won the Palestinian elections in January 2006, Turkey was the first country to invite Hamas's terror master Khaled Mashal to Ankara. Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan's move provoked criticism from the Bush administration. But Erdogan just shrugged it off. And he was right to do so. By 2006, then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice had come to view Erdogan as the US's indispensable ally in the Muslim world. As she saw it, he was proof that Islamist parties could be democratic and moderate.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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