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The End of History

Asked whether he considers himself a Zionist, he answered: "I believe that the Jewish people have the right to a state ... Remember, there was no Palestine as a state. It was part of the Ottoman Empire" until the early 20th century…”
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Gingrich calls Palestinians ‘invented’ people, al-Jazeera News
 
 
 
In the wake of Newt Gingrich’s discovery that territories formerly part of the Ottoman Empire cannot claim statehood, governments from Hungary to Kuwait are struggling to deal with the revelation that their national identities are a fraud.

“I thought we were a real country, with a history that long predates formal independence in 1912,” The Albanian president said, shortly before handing his country over to the great-grandson of the last Ottoman Sultan, “But Mr. Gingrich is right – we were part of the Ottoman Empire until the early 20th century, obviously we are an invented people.”

In Turkey, there is uncertainty about what the revival of the Ottoman Empire will mean for the region. After almost a century of staunch republicanism, few are happy to see the monarchy return, but many feel they have no choice. “Although Turks were the dominant culture within the Ottoman Empire, it was not thought of as a Turkish nation.” One government spokesman explained. “Turkey as a nation was only founded by Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s; we are clearly an illegitimate state.”

In Libya, the Transitional Government is struggling to maintain their recently-won freedom with the argument that Tripoli was historically more of a ‘client state’ than a directly administered possession of the Ottoman Sultans, and Egypt is expected to make similar attempts to maintain its independence.

But not everyone objects to the restoration of Ottoman rule. In Cyprus, many are celebrating the end of the island’s division as both Greek and Turkish Cypriots abandon their false identities to join together as subjects of the Sultan. Meanwhile, in revolt-plagued Syria, President Bashar al-Assad seemed almost relieved to turn his country over to the new Ottoman sultan, and one spokesman for the former regime is now arguing the former President should be exempt from any prosecution for crimes committed by the Syrian government, as, under the Gingrich doctrine, the Republic of Syria never existed in the first place.

In Europe, meanwhile, markets are reeling at the discovery that debt-laden Greece never existed in the first place. “In hindsight, looking at the level of corruption in Greece, we should have guessed the entire state was an elaborate hoax,” One EU official was heard to comment. “It’s a pity Italy and Spain were never part of the Ottoman Empire.”

Similarly, NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia and Kosovo are struggling to deal with the radical shift in cultural identities in the region, as millions of Serbs, Bosnians and Croatians abandoned their post-Ottoman nationalities. “At first, it looked like the ethnic conflict here was finally over,” One American soldier reported. “But now it looks like about half the population are now pledging allegiance to the Habsburg monarchy instead. I don’t think things are going to calm down here any time soon.”

Meanwhile, the man at the centre of this radical political shift, Newt Gingrich, has come under fire from his own party, after it was realised the Gingrich doctrine had resulted in the erasure of Israel as a state as well as Palestine. One Republican, speaking anonymously, went further, saying that “Mr. Gingrich’s comments don’t even make sense. So what if Palestine didn’t exist prior to the twentieth century. There wasn’t a United States prior to the eighteenth century; it was part of the British empire and considered part of the British community – Oh, crap.”

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
selenak
Dec. 12th, 2011 08:18 am (UTC)
Best comment on that latest Gingrich idiocy that I've read anywhere!
sunnyskywalker
Dec. 14th, 2011 06:09 pm (UTC)
The Assyrians called. They said they called dibs way before the Ottomans.

I had the most frustrating conversation about this with my dad. His response was basically, "Yes, both nations are either valid or fictitious depending on how you look at it, but letting all the refugees come back to create a state would mean the destruction of Israel." Sure, maybe... but that isn't what Newt said. He said they didn't exist before an arbitrary cutoff date, and therefore a nation which also didn't exist before that date had a better claim to the land. (And if being culturally and ethnically similar to neighboring countries disqualifies Palestinians from being their own people, surely being composed of a mix of Russians, Ethiopians, French, etc. also disqualifies a group from being "a" people? Except both of those are stupid reasons for denying nationhood, which doesn't have a clear checklist of required demographics.) Either he's really bad at history, or he's reasoning backwards from "I prefer Israel > Palestine must be illegitimate." Neither is a good way to make foreign policy.

Gah. I just... why do people have to conflate the question of whether or not there are such a thing as Palestinians who did indeed live on a given chunk of land with the question of whether it would be in various nations' interest to recognize that state and/or help it out? You could say they had a valid claim and we should help them claim it, or they don't but we should still help them for [insert your national interest reason here], or that they don't and we shouldn't. And Newt could perfectly well have said, "Yes, they have some claim to the land, but I still don't support their return because I predict mass death if that happens, and I think preventing mass death trumps other concerns." I suppose that doesn't make for an inspiring soundbite, though.
4thofeleven
Dec. 15th, 2011 04:04 am (UTC)
Honestly, I kind of wish someone would restore the Ottoman and Habsburg empires - if only to finally put the nail in the coffin of nationalism as the basis for state borders, and the idea of 'legitimate national states' over 'illegitimate' ones...

(And one doesn't have to go back that far to see just how arbitrary the categories used to be. At least some Jewish leaders in the nineteenth century liked to argue Ashkenazi Jews were part of the German nation, because Yiddish is a Germanic language...)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )