Sunday, December 18, 2011

Maurice vs. Piers on Inventivity

An open letter to CNN presenter Piers Morgan
From Maurice Ostroff December 18, 2011

Dear Mr. Piers Morgan

I always enjoy your programs, even your recent interview with Lewis Black when he said that Newt Gingrich’s widely reported statement about Palestinians was a psychotic thing to say.

As a stand-up comedian Black's ignorance is understandable, but I was disappointed that as a knowledgeable and respected TV presenter and veteran journalist you did not correct him and point out that far from being psychotic, Newt Gingrich’s statements "Remember there was no Palestine as a state -- [it was] part of the Ottoman Empire. I think we have an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs[.]" are substantiated by historical facts.

The essential historical facts are that when the status of the Ottoman Empire’s former possessions was determined at the San Remo conference in 1920, Syria and Lebanon were mandated to France while Mesopotamia (Iraq) and the southern portion of the territory (Palestine) were mandated to Britain. Jews as well as Arabs who lived in the mandated territory were regarded as Palestinians, not by virtue of nationhood, but by virtue of living in what was then designated as Palestine.
See here.

Moreover, former speaker Gingrich’s views are substantiated by many authoritative Arab opinions. For example, in 1937 Arab leader, Auni Bey Abdel-Hadi, said of Palestine to the Peel Commission in Jerusalem “There is no such country. Palestine is a term the Zionists invented! There is no Palestine in the Bible. Our country was for centuries part of Syria. “Palestine” is alien to us; it is the Zionists who introduced it.”

Testifying at the 1946 Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, , the distinguished Arab historian, Prof. Philip K. Hitti, author of the authoritative book "The Arabs", stated “There is no such thing as 'Palestine' in history, absolutely not.”

Addressing the UN security council in 1956 in his capacity as the Arab League’s ambassador to the UN , Ahmad Shukeiri, the first chairman of the PLO and one of its founders declared “Such a creature as Palestine does not exist at all. This land is nothing but the southern portion of Greater Syria.. It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria".

In 1970, no less than Yasser Arafat told Italian journalist Orianna Falacci, “What you call ‘Trans-Jordan’ is nothing more than Palestine”. And at a conference in Amman in 1987, then Syrian President, Hafez al-Assad, said, “A state named ‘Palestine’ has never existed.”

On March 31, 1977, in an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, Zuheir Mohsen, leader of the as-Sa'iqa faction of the PLO, said “The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality, today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct "Palestinian people" to oppose Zionism”.

And more recently a high profile critic of the Israel government, Arab former member of Knesset Azmi Bishara, who has fled Israel, declared categorically during a interview on Israel's Channel 2 TV "There is no Palestinian nation. It's a colonial invention... When were there any Palestinians? ...until the 19th century Palestine was the south of greater Syria..." .
See here.

It is obvious from the above that far from being zany or psychotic Mr. Gingrich is far better informed than Mr. Black and that the former speaker’s views on Palestinian nationhood are supported not only by historical FACTS but also by solid authoritative Arab opinion. It is relevant to emphasize that my objection to Mr. Black’s misrepresentation of historical facts in no way detracts from my support for a two state solution of the Israel-Arab conflict.

And as I'm sure that CNN does not wish to misinform viewers, I trust that you will correct the misinformation conveyed during the above mentioned interview with Mr. Black.

This letter is being publicized as will the considered response I hope to receive from you


Maurice Ostroff

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