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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gingrich and Arafat - Anatomy of a Smear

Two photos are being circulated of Gingrich shaking hands with Arafat, one from 1993 and one from 1998, with the context stripped away, to imply that Newt was formerly friendly with Arafat and then "changed" his position.

The 1998 photo is the easiest to address because it is the most amply documented. That photo was taken during Gingrich's trip to Israel and I will let the news stories from the time speak for themselves.

After days of angering Palestinians by publicly siding with Israel, House Speaker Newt Gingrich was upbeat about his talks yesterday with Yasser Arafat and insisted he was just trying to help move the peace process forward.

Later, the Georgia Republican alluded to his outspoken speech Tuesday to Israel's parliament, when, veering from U.S. policy, he declared Jerusalem "the united and eternal capital of Israel." Yesterday, Gingrich said it was his guess that Arafat himself knew Jerusalem would always be the capital of Israel.

From the clean AP version

The first fracas erupted Sunday when Rep. Gingrich accused chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat of fomenting violence and demanding that Mr. Erekat not attend the meeting with Mr. Arafat.

At issue was a planned Gingrich visit to a proposed site for the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Palestinians vehemently oppose any formal recognition of Israel's claim to all of the city, and Mr. Erekat warned there would be body bags if the visit went ahead.

Or the New York Times

Mr. Gingrich was greeted in Israel with unusual honors, including long hours spent with Mr. Netanyahu and an address to the Parliament. His appearance there on Tuesday prompted heckling and a walkout by Arab legislators. ''You are anti-Arab!'' screamed Abdulwahab Darawshe, leader of the Democratic Arab Party.

So any notion that this was an enthusiastic embrace of Arafat doesn't fly with the news stories of the day. Gingrich was reasonably friendly with the Palestinian Arab side, he welcomed visits by PA officials to the United States and suggested more fact finding missions. He was supportive of a peace process, but he also took a clear and unambiguously pro-Israel line.

"No Palestinian official should talk about or threaten bloodshed, but yet it is a routine pattern in this region for the Palestinian Authority to in effect, incite violence. I think it is totally wrong, and the United States frankly should condemn it routinely and point out to the world who it is who is suggesting violence," Gingrich said on CNN's "Late Edition."

None of these statements are altogether extraordinary, a number of Republicans have said similar things, but in the late nineties the peace process had clearly broken down, Netanyahu's victory was a sign that Israelis were tired of the surrender process under Rabin and Peres. They wanted some measure of security, even while the Clinton Administration was doing everything possible to get Netanyahu out. Something they even succeeded in doing.

The peace process was still a mantra then, more so than it is today. Gingrich already had larger ambitions and along with a bipartisan delegation of Republicans and Democrats he met with Arafat in order to play the statesman, but he took the side of Netanyahu over Clinton. Considering that history is repeating itself under Obama, that should be considered significant.

Gingrich's position on Israel has been fairly consistent over the years. And he's expressed himself far more directly in ways that few Republican national leaders have. The following is from a year earlier in 1997.

Gingrich said it's dangerous "to confuse the terrorist and the democracy ... It is extraordinarily dangerous to always impose the burden on those who are your friends because you're too timid to tell the truth to those who are your enemies."

The speaker suggested the Clinton Administration is undermining Israel's security by equating Palestinian violence with new Israeli housing in east Jerusalem. The latest round of violence between Palestinian youths and Israeli troops flared after the Israeli government broke ground on a new housing project in the area.

Gingrich also said the U.S. should adopt "principles that say, 'If you're a terrorist, you should not expect to live very long,'" and make a commitment "to pre-emptive strikes when we deem them appropriate."

The same year of his visit, Gingrich was even more blunt when it came to the Clinton-Arafat troika.

''It's become the Clinton Administration and Arafat against Israel,'' Mr. Gingrich said at a news conference. ''The Clinton Administration says: 'Happy birthday. Let us blackmail you on behalf of Arafat.

In 2002, Gingrich was still saying blasting Arafat and suggesting that he should be expelled from Israel. He was also doing it seven years earlier in 1995.

Gingrich said: "I'm told that if we were to move the embassy there tomorrow, that this would cause enormous unrest among those neighbors that would like to destroy Israel. Well, I'm frankly not sympathetic to that. And part of my reaction is: They ought to grow up.

As early as 1990, Gingrich was taking on even Senator Dole over Israel. He's been consistent on the issue for nearly two decades. You can read him saying similar things twenty years ago. Has he been perfect on the issue?

In 1993 he seemed to have a friendly meeting with Arafat and laid out some suggestions for a viable state. That's the source of the first photo. Sometime around then he appears to have questioned moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, something that he has otherwise supported for seventeen years. Both these events were obscure enough that there are hardly any news items about them. They also occurred during a period when most people, even those who should have known better, did begin to believe that peace might be possible.

As with any politician there is no telling what he might do with executive power, but Gingrich has one of the best pro-Israel records of anyone in Congress running for the White House right now. He certainly has the longest such record. It's not implausible to think that he does mean it.

The release of the photo is a transparent smear by the wildly Anti-Israel Sam Stein, who has moved on to plying his wares at the Huffington Post. Redistributing the photo without a larger context is misleading. As is relying on a story from a source of Sam Stein's.

Gingrich met with Arafat twice. Both times within the context of congressional events. He has also repeatedly spoken the hard truths about Arafat and the PLO, even comparing them to Nazis. He's not the only pro-Israel candidate in the race. Santorum knows the issues and is pro-Israel. For anyone looking for a pro-Israel candidate, either man is a good choice.

More significantly the out of context release of this photo is typical of the smears we're seeing in the race. And we are going to be seeing lots more of the same. That's why I thought it worthwhile to run this piece which is not a traditional article, but a hasty clarification of a photo that is making its rounds in the blogsphere.


  1. By putting the photos into context you made the common error of attempting to redress the accepted revision of what actually happened.

    You of all people should know it is sheer bigotry to toy with the truth in today's mad world that's going proudly madder.

  2. Well said, Dee.

    Slightly off topic, but still in the context of smears - don't you think it is odd that the media is smearing the candidates they say have no chance to beat Obama while leaving Romney virtually untouched by their vitriol?

    It's quite reminiscent of Obama's method of clearing the field in his successful campaign for the Senate.

    The minute the GOP started pushing Mitt I started pushing back as did many others.

    When I was still on FB I lost a friend who has been active in the RNC because I told her that I would never vote for Mitt when she jumped on the GOP bandwagon. She told me I did not understand politics,and that me and my TEA Party friends would get Obama re-elected, whereupon she unfriended and blocked me so I could not respond. This was nearly a year ago, for goodness sakes!

    They have been pushing Romney so hard it seems like they want Obama to win re-election. I have never thought for one second that Mitt Romney could beat Obama, and considering how the media has been pushing for Mitt too I feel perfectly comfortable with that assessment.

    One has to wonder just what the heck is going on although I'm sure I really don't want to know. My old heart can't take much more of the insanity.

  3. I'm pleased that you put the photos in context. I've always taken pictures of politicians with foreign leaders with a grain of salt.

    They have to interact with people such as Arafat as part of their jobs.

    I'm thrilled to read that Rick Santorum is pro-Israel as I was especially impressed with his speech tonight. Finally a candidate I can relate to:)

  4. We need a President who strongly supports and aids Israel. We should not be pressuring Israel in any way to give up the land that was given to them by the one and only Living God , The God of Abraham ,Isaac , and Jacob as an ETERNAL POSSESION. Jerusalem is the future capitol of Jesus Christ's Earthly Kingdom. The Bible declares in Joel 3:2 that God will enter into judgement with any nation that divides up Israel and scatters the Jews from their land. If the US continues the policy of land for peace we will suffer Gods judgement . Unity with Israel will bring blessing and favor from God back to the USA.

  5. The love and devotion to Israel must be written on the heart and soul. This is absent in too many of the politicians on both sides in today's world.

  6. That is all too true Genie:( My personal and unpopular opinion has been that far too many candidates and othes use Israel as a prop for various agendas.

    I hate to write or think that but I can't help it. I hope our next president is genuninely pro-Israel.

  7. Even if a presidential candidate not only states being pro Israel but if he genuinely happens to be such, once elected president he shall have to consider the realities on the ground as there are 100 of millions of Muslims in combination with the enormous energy reserves in the Muslim countries he has to show "balance" in his approach and can not antagonize them too much. Moving an embassy to Jeruzalem might be the right thing to do but not the wise thing to do. Strong military defensive aid the wise thing strong offensive aid un-wise. No matter how we readers of this post would like a candidate to be an example of justice and truth, international diplomacy regrettably does work different.

  8. Thank you for this clarifying post!

  9. Pardon me if I beat a dead horse, but I don't see how you can complain when you used the very same smear tactic against Rick Perry.


    The tragic aspect of both these smears is that once the feathers are out of the pillow, there is no retrieving them.

  10. American Genie: You’re right that the MSM is “endorsing” Mitt Romney because he is basically a loser. He is another empty suit, a compromiser, a consummate pragmatist, a man whose character can be defined by a stubborn, cloying grayness. He has all the appeal of a mannequin in the men’s department of Wal-Mart. No amount of “image building” can make him out to be a champion of freedom, Israel’s or the U.S.’s. That image would be just a sculpture in sand, liable to collapse after a first wave of crisis. After all, he still doesn’t concede error for having imposed “RomneyCare” on Massachusetts. Perhaps you’re right, that the MSM is pushing Romney because they know he hasn’t an ice cube’s chance in hell of beating Obama. Or it may be that they’ve written off Obama for all his failures and his lies and see Romney as a savior of everything that Obama has accomplished, because he certainly wouldn’t criticize Obama for his altruist motives. He’d probably preserve ObamaCare but whittle it down to “acceptable” norms.

    On the other hand, Newt Gingrich’s triumph this week in South Carolina is a bit frightening. Sure, he is more or less consistent when it comes to defending Israel. He also made CNN’s debate-moderator John King blink when he lashed out at the MSM’s preoccupation with irrelevant issues. That performance probably won him a lot of votes in the primary. But he’s a God-guy, ready to uphold what are alleged to be “traditional” American values. When I think of Gingrich, I keep picturing his vision of America as he would like to reshape it, in the way of “The Handmaid’s Tale” (1990, a very loose adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel of the same name, which itself is a literary wreck). As an atheist, I’m not really interested in adapting to “traditional” values, whatever they are. I champion reason and individual rights and restoring America’s exceptionalism. Gingrich doesn’t. As president, I think he’d be just as much a disappointment as would be Romney. But, thanks to Daniel for clarifying the photos.

    Obviously, the MSM (with guidance from the DNC) is stooping to its usual dirty tricks to oppose any GOP candidate. Although why the MSM is so cranky about the GOP, I can’t imagine. After all, the GOP for over a century has always been the “me too” party. My rule of thumb to predict GOP polices has been for decades: What the Democrats propose, the Republicans impose.

  11. Anonymous22/1/12


    Margaret Atwood once confessed that she based "Handmaid's Tale" not on any Christian community, but on what she saw of Islam, in Afghanistan.

    I suspect we're more likely to get such a society if we stick with Obama, than under any Republican president, even one that pushes the dread "Family (aieeeeee!) values."

    /Iguna Donna

  12. And how many times have we seen the picture of Netanyahu shaking hands with Obama.

    By the way Barry Rubin pointed out in a review, on PJM, of Gingrich's ABC interview that he finished by remarking that (paraphrasing)
    it is tragic that the US has been sustaining the war, against Israel, since the 1940s.

  13. If only the words of these proven untrustworthy politicians would line up with line up with their actions.

    They never do

    It's amazing how the average voters are always seduced by the great speeches and golden words and are shocked when they find out once again that they elected another devious liar and con-man who never does what he promised to do.

  14. "...That's why I thought it worthwhile to run this piece which is not a traditional article, but a hasty clarification of a photo that is making its rounds in the blogsphere...."

    And I am glad you did. However, I fear that it will enlighten only the few who can chew gum and walk at the same time because the quality of your writing is too high for the herd and will not be allowed to sicker through the morass of the current "zeitgeist". The Obama-dhimmies will see to that. (Yes I'm looking at you, New York Times and assorted fondlers of the truth.)

  15. Anonymous22/1/12

    Okay, so here is my take on this. Newt needs to market himself as the only tough, reality-based, adult candidate, albeit with flaws, which he hasn't done effectively so far. While we are not the French, I don't think people are as hot and bothered by personal sexual morality in politicians as they are by effectiveness. Mitt's problems, beyond Bain, is that he comes across as an "aw-shucks" type of dude who goes to ice cream parlors. In short, vanilla, and not a glaring tradeup from the Alinsky acolyte in the White House, who unlike Newt, is a one-time faithful husband, who seems from his books,to have absent daddy issues. Perhaps candidate debates should be run by psycho therapists?

  16. You make an excellent point, Anon. While I wouldn't consider myself hot and bothered by Gingrich and his marriage problems, he doesn't represent the traditional family values I grew up with. It's sad.

    I'd give anything to have a candidate who was honest and faithful to his family. All of the applauses he got at the last debate worries me for another reason--the fans of the various candidates are already creating an "Us Versus Them" mentality.

    That is never a good sign and is typically quite unpleasant.

    I couldn't believe people actually applauded Gingrich for his marriage problems.

  17. For what it's worth Carl Paladino has issued a press release endorsing Gingrich. I posted it on my blog. Paladino is urging Americans to speak out and engage (he used the word engage this time, not me lol).

    Daniel, you were right in putting the picture into proper context. That is responsible journalism, something the MSM is lacking.

  18. Anonymous23/1/12


    You know I agree with you. My thought is that as we get older we start to see the "grey" more in situations and understand the flaws in people. Gingrich is no doubt a brilliant man, who would clearly be better than Obama in terms of getting things done, improving the economy, and preserving national security. So is it determinative that Obama may be the better man morally?
    What I find intriquing is that the media is psychologically dissecting Newt's infidelities, but gave Obama a total pass on the impact of growing up fatherless and his mother's re-marriage, moving to Indonesia, back, etc.. Now one can say that that was not Obama's choice. But in the same vein how would growing up under Obama's circumstances not impact the very weighty decisions that someone has to make as President? What scales do we use to interpret who will do the greater good for the vast majority of people? Do we need to psychologically test candidates as well? Kind of stream of consciousness, I know.

  19. @Keliata and "Anonymous".. you can sort out which anonymous. (Get yourself pseudonyms people! I promise it does not hurt one bit)

    I agree with you both for the most part.
    Gingrich, though, I feel has smeared himself with his penchant for adultery.

  20. Anonymous23/1/12

    @ Lemon

    Your point about getting an identity for me was well taken, and I will do so shortly. But I think your point about Newt's possible past sexual proclivities was a bit off point. I am not a Gingrich supporter per se, flawed candidates cause concern, but sexually morally correct candidates who have more damaging social and political ideologies are a greater harm to our future. As a man I would say that the right love, the right woman, is redeeming. Gingrich should man up, and say, my wife, this woman, is all I have dreamed of, hoped for, and needed. People make mistakes, fail, and are flawed. If he can't say it, or articulate it, then he deserves to lose on adultry grounds.

  21. @ anonymous again

    I think the harm to our future is what is destroying us now, immorality at every level and willingness to accept it as though its okay.

    There was a huge outcry from Republicans about Bill Clintons affair in the White House. Now they are willing to over look Newt's serial adultery.

  22. To those who want an unblemished presidential candidat because they come from a Christian perspective I say: remember Jesus's suggestion about throwing the first stone.

    To those who purse their lips in moral outrage at the human flaws of others (be they candidates for so-called "high office") because they feel morally superior, I suggest to scratch those "Words of Comfort" by the delectable Dorothy Parker on their mirror:

    Helen of Troy had a wandering glance;
    Sappho's restriction was only the sky;
    Ninon was ever the chatter of France;
    But oh, what a good girl am I!


    No law! Cast it all aside. All crimes are unpunishable , even terrorism, murder, all of it because there is no one sin free to enforce the law!
    What crap.
    Remember that next time someone is about to receive capital punishment.

  24. Anonymous24/1/12

    @ Lemon

    Sadly they are all sleezeballs of one stripe or another. Elections are merely picking your poison.

  25. @Mr. Anonymous,

    And isn't it a darn shame that people are willing to keep accepting sleaze rather than demanding more?

    You get what you ask for.



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