Sunday, December 18, 2011

Victor Kattan Struggles With Truth

The Huffington Post is blowing through their pro-Palestinian blogger lineup with the Newt Gingrich controversy, and the next batter to step up to the plate is Victor Kattan, the Program Director of the Palestinian Policy Network with his debut article on the Huffington Post. In this Mr. Kattan valiantly attempts to prove Newt Gingrich wrong, but for a supposedly well educated guy his article is still replete with logical fallacies and incoherent arguments. Let me demonstrate:
"Every history student knows that nations are invented. On an academic level, to say that the Palestinian people are invented is meaningless, since one could say this about all nations. But to say what Gingrich said in the context in which he said it is culturally insensitive because in the process he is denying Palestinian claims to statehood."
So after two paragraphs claiming that what Gingrich said is not true and that Mr. Kattan is going to challenge the "accuracy" of the statement (you can double check if you don't believe me), here he is saying that the statement is accurate. And yes, I know that he is saying that it doesn't matter that Gingrich's statement is correct because it applies to everyone, but this is still an informative glance into the mindset of Mr. Kattan. He is willing to contradict himself paragraph by paragraph in order to make his point.

But of course that's not the only thing illogical about this paragraph. How exactly is Gingrich "denying Palestinian claims to statehood?" He is denying the Palestinian myth that there was a Palestinian state at some point in history, which certainly damages Palestinian claims to statehood, but he is also in favor of the two-state solution, so I don't know where exactly Mr. Kattan gets off claiming that he is against a Palestinian state. He probably saw it as a good card to play and used it, regardless of the facts.
"Gingrich is implying that because the Palestinians are Arabs and because they speak Arabic, they are part of an amorphous collectivity..."
They are.
"...and thus lack the qualities -- a unique language, culture, and tradition -- associated with statehood."
They do. But the world has been giving the Palestinians a free pass on these things for years, so don't expect things to actually change on the ground. This is a very typical exchange, though: It's not enough that  the outside world agrees with the Palestinians and helps them get what they want. They also need to believe everything the Palestinians say and not ask inconvenient questions like Gingrich did. 

At this point Mr. Kattan goes off topic and argues with a point that Gingrich didn't make. He points out that many countries like British colonies speak the same language and have more or less similar cultures. Which I'm sure would be a great counterargument except that Gingrich never actually said that he was against a Palestinian state or that the Palestinian people didn't exist, only that they were invented. Notice how at this point we still have not see any kind of refutation for claims that Gingrich has actually made. But maybe we'll see some in the next paragraph:
"Gingrich's categorical assertion that Palestine was never a state since it was part of the Ottoman Empire is clearly nonsensical and misplaced."
Oh really? Are we finally going to get some evidence that Palestine was in fact a state at some point in its history?
"Nearly all states were formerly part of another Empire at some point in history, including the U.S., which used to be a British colony. Is Gingrich also claiming that Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese, Jordanians, Libyans, and Tunisians, are inventions, since they were all formerly part of the Ottoman Empire? And if so, is the concept of being an Israeli not also an invention? " 

Wow, this is frustrating. Look, Mr. Kattan, make one of two arguments:

1. Gingrich is wrong, Palestine was a state and the Palestinians are not an invented people, and here is why.

2. Gingrich is right, Palestine was not a state and the Palestinians are an invented people, but in the real world it doesn't matter because that is true for all people and states.

As it stands he is trying to have his cake and eat it too. He wants Newt to be wrong but he doesn't want to have to make the argument that Palestinians have always existed in history. Possibly because he knows that he can't win that argument, so he's trying a different tactic. He could stand to make it a little less obvious though. But while I am at it, I'll answer his questions: Yes, all the Arab nations and identities are invented, because the Arab nations were formed by British and French colonialists drawing lines on maps. With the exception of Egypt, just about all the Arab nations are invented (especially Jordan). As for Israelis, the Jewish people were formed thousands of years ago, but "Israeli" did not become an identity until Israel the state was founded in 1948. See Mr. Kattan, being honest isn't that hard!
"The fact that the Palestinians have never had a state is also misplaced. They seek a state, and they are entitled to one under international law. Prior to the British Mandate of Palestine, established by the League of Nations in 1922, the state of Israel did not exist."
(Headdesk. Again)

Mr. Kattan, have the Palestinians ever had a state or not? Are you capable of giving a straight answer to a question even once in this article? Until you actually answer Gingrich's comments, I'm not even going to give your comments any more attention. I'll just mark down this paragraph to "Gingrich is right but I'm too proud to admit it." But then again, perhaps I am misinterpreting what he is saying: Maybe he is finally admitting that the Palestinians have never had a state (thus that their identity is invented) but is seeking to wave it off by declaring that "they deserve a state" anyway. If so, nice to see him finally come around.

Then he starts some lying of his own. He first declares that the Palestinians are denied a "right of return" that they don't have and then engages in that classic Palestinian tactic of rewriting history:
"This problem has been further compounded because instead of sharing the land with the Palestinians as envisaged in numerous peace agreements, Israel has done everything it can to prevent the Palestinians from being in a position to form an independent state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza."
I see no reason to remind everybody of the very facts of this conflict, instead I'll just remind you that Israel has been the one to accept and make peace offers, while Palestinians have been the one to reject them (with the exception of the unworkable 2002 Saudi Peace Plan). All the Palestinians had to do if "sharing the land" and "having a state" was important to them was accept the Peel Commission or the UN Partition Plan, but they refused. Mr. Kattan is fooling absolutely no one with his trademark Palestinian finger pointing. Finally we have this:
"Gingrich would be better advised to spend his time by having a candid, honest, and open conversation about how the US can create the conditions for peace in the Middle East, which the current incumbent of the White House has conspicuously failed to achieve. Making divisive, insensitive, and inaccurate historical comments is unhelpful to both Arabs and Jews, and makes the quest for peace even harder to attain." 
For those of you keeping track at home, that's another article down with not one single attempt to prove Gingrich wrong. Just more personal attacks and off topic deflections. Who would have imagined that one single Republican presidential candidate could outmaneuver all of the anti-Israel bloggers on the Huffington Post? Maybe Gingrich is smart enough to know what battles to fight, while these guys are not.


  1. "Then he starts some lying of his own. He first declares that the Palestinians are denied a "right of return" that they don't have"

    No that would be you lying. They are clearly denied their right of return. I can't even imagine the mental gymnastics it took for you to convince yourself that they weren't denied the right of return, while at the same time opposing their right of return

    As far as invented states. Yes you could obviously say that about any country. Particurliy Israel, which was invented as a country of immigrants/colonists only a few decades ago

  2. The Jews as a nation have existed longer than any of the present nation-states. It just so happens that we have agreed to be codified as the nation state of Israel in the modern world, but that changes nothing.

    If Israel is delegitimized, so are all of the Arab states, all of the African states, most of the Balkan states - in fact, most of the member states of the UN. Are you sure you want to go down that path?

    Jews cannot be colonists in their own homeland. The colonists are the invading squatters, the Arabs. Jews are the indigenous people of Israel, and no amount of Arab propaganda can change that.

    Americans, however, are colonists in the United States. Are you sure you want to go down that path? I didn't think so.

    Arabs have a right of return to Arabia, see how easy that is?

  3. Yes americans were colonists
    Nobody in America disputes this
    But We have long since passed our dark period of ethnic clensing. Still waiting for israel to catch up.

    Here's a basic sociology lesson for you...everyone everywhere are imigrants. We all came from Africa, and the ones still in africa haven't stayed in the same place all that time either

    And yes, the eurpopean immigrants to Palestine in the 20's 30'sand40's now known as Israelis were infact immigrants. This is not disputed by anyone who does not have serious racial issues. Or do you deny that there was a jewish dispora? Perhaps in your mind the jewish people never had any presence in Europe at all?

  4. Irit,

    Israel has not existed "as a nation" for more than a couple of hundred years in ancient history, and less that 100 more recently.

    Through 3000 years, or however much longer your illusion suggests, there has been no Jewish nation. There have been a couple of brief interludes when Jewish people held tenuous sovereignty over tiny patches of land. For the rest, they have been a scattered people who were nationals of whichever country they happened to live in.


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