Yesterday on CNN’s Reliable Sources, in a conversation about the resignation of reporter Helen Thomas over her offensive comments about Israel, Atlantic journalist Jeffrey Goldberg denied host Howard Kurtz’s suggestion that there was a double-standard at work:
KURTZ: You know, some critics out there say — I’m sure you’ve heard this — that this shows the U.S. press is pro-Israel and you get in trouble when you criticize Israel. And if Helen Thomas had said the opposite thing about the Palestinians, she’d still have her job.
GOLDBERG: I don’t think that last point is necessarily true. If you gave this long diatribe about the Palestinians don’t exist, which is sort of the equivalent argument, I don’t think you’re going to last that long in the mainstream press.
Well, here’s former/future U.S. presidential candidate and Fox news commentator Mike Huckabee on how the Palestinians don’t exist:
PERSON 1: Some have talked about having a Palestinian state, but it doesn’t have to be in Israel. What do you think about that?
HUCKABEE: Basically, there really is no such thing — I need to be careful about saying this, because people will really get upset — there’s really no such thing as a Palestinian.
PERSON 1: Oh, that’s true.
PERSON 2: Finally, someone said it.
PERSON 1: Before 1948 it was all Arabs —
HUCKABEE: You have Arabs and Persians. And there’s such complexity in that. But there’s really no such thing [as a Palestinian]. That’s been a political tool to try and force land away from Israel.
Despite the fact that scholars such as Rashid Khalidi have established the emergence of a distinct Palestinian national consciousness in the 19th century, the offensive idea that the Palestinians don’t exist — or the equally offensive idea that they only exist as a negative reaction to the creation of Israel — is unfortunately still a fairly common belief among Israel hawks.
For example, the New Republic’s owner and editor-in-chief Marty Peretz writes stuff like this all the time:
“But let’s face it: the state of Palestine simply does not exist. There is even a question as to whether the Palestinian people really exists, except in the realm of conflicted ideology.” [5/1/07]
“Yes, Palestine is an utter fiction.” [5/15/07]
“There were no Palestinians until there were Israelis. And there will be no Palestine until Israel imposes it. Then it will be a nation-state like most of the other non-nation-states in the Middle East. Yes, a fraudulent nation-state.” [5/17/07]
“Let’s face facts. Only if you are ‘Eyeless in Gaza’ can you believe that these people are a ‘nation.’” [5/17/07]
“I think the conflict between the Arabs of Palestine and the Jewish state is of less import than the one between India and Pakistan, which like Palestine, is also not a country and the Pakistanis, also like the Palestinians, are not a nation.” [6/28/07]
“The Palestinians may not be the Palestinian nation. But they are who they are. It is not Washington that makes them fantasists.” [7/11/07]
And here’s Glenn Beck:
Around the turn of the century the Jews decided we need a homeland. What I’m looking for is a nice MLT, mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich, and maybe, I don`t know, a homeland.
So they all started to begin gathering. The Zionists are coming to reclaim the homeland.
Palestinians, who aren’t really called Palestinians. They’re Syrians. They’re kind of wandering around, tending their flocks, walking around basically in the desert. Find themselves with a bunch of Jews there in the desert with them.
As Peter Beinart noted in his recent piece in the New York Review of Books, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself made the claim in his 1993 book A Place Among the Nations. Unlike Huckabee, however, Netanyahu has since learned not to say this when he’s near a microphone.
Condemning Thomas’ remarks last week, Goldberg wrote that they were “rooted in the same grotesque motivation” as Holocaust denial: “To deny to Jews the truth of their own history.” This is, of course, precisely what Huckabee and others mean to do to the Palestinians. I look forward to Goldberg similarly condemning Huckabee’s comments and calling for his resignation from Fox News.