In the wake of Gingrich’s really well planned out hallway interview with the Jewish Channel yesterday, where he asserted that Palestinians are an “invented” people, the current front-runner has been assaulted by a wave of blistering criticism from the upper echelons of the Palestinian leadership. The Gingrich campaign did do some very (very) modest damage control today, saying that “to understand what is being proposed and negotiated you have to understand decades of complex history, which is exactly what Gingrich was referencing during the recent interview with The Jewish Channel.” And while there was no official apology for the “invented” comment, the contested term “Palestinians” was used twice, and not, it seems, ironically. Which is about as much of a mea culpa as you can expect from this “no apologies” Republican crowd, right? For a taste of the bile erupting in eastern Jerusalem at the mention of the words “Newt” and/or “Gingrich” read our list of the most over-the-top criticisms aimed at the former Speaker.
Salam Fayyad, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority: Gingrich’s “extremely trivial, demeaning and ridiculous remarks” were also a “denial of history.” (To history buff Newt that’s quite the slam.)
Saeb Erakat, top Palestinian negotiator: He called Gingrich’s statements “racist” and a measure of “how really despicable things can get” in American politics.
Hanan Ashrawi, member of the PLO’s Executive Committee: Not only has Gingrich “lost touch with reality,” but his remarks, which were a “cheap way to win [the] pro-Israel vote,” demonstrate “ignorance and bigotry.”
Dimitri Diliani, a leader of Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party: The “ignorant, provocative and racist nature of Mr. Gingrich” led him to take part in this “pathetic political scheme that jeopardizes peace and stability in the region.”
Going from these comments alone, looks like Gingrich has single-handedly set back the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by a decade.