William Jacobson teaches law at Cornell University and writes a blog called Legal Insurrection. Here, he joins the chorus of right-wingers defending Newt Gingrich’s “Palestinian national identity is invented” comments, and with not a whit more intelligence than any of the others. He offers up a lot of total nonsense, but I’ll just quote the opening sentence:
Palestinian national identity as it currently is recognized was a reaction to the creation of Israel and most prominently the 1967 war when Israel captured territory controlled by Egypt and Jordan. Newt Gingrich is under fire for stating this truth.
Well, yeah. Jacobson apparently believes he’s delivered a stunning retort here, but all he’s done is demonstrate how stupid he is. Yes, Palestinian national identity was “a reaction to the creation of Israel” and the 1967 war. That’s what often happens when people are evicted from their homes and their land and sent into exile where they are forced to live on a fraction of the land that used to be theirs, and under a brutal military occupation where every day they are persecuted, denied access to their own natural resources, and subjected to a thousand daily humiliations. It’s not unheard of for a population subjected to decades of forced exile, disenfranchisement, and persecution to develop a sense of themselves as a people united and bound together by a set of shared historical experiences. It’s something that has happened in many times and places — going back to ancient biblical times when a population of people who had been enslaved and persecuted for hundreds of years managed to escape their bondage and spent 40 years wandering in the desert trying to find their way back to the land they had been exiled from centuries earlier. William Jacobson may be aware of this particular group of people. They’re still around today — but sadly; no, not sadly, tragically — collective historical experience of persecution and suffering going back sometimes hundreds or even thousands of years does not always grant the wisdom, understanding, sympathy, and compassion to recognize the same process when it’s going on right before the eyes of those whose own history is steeped in the same kind of suffering.