You can get in great trouble if you say that Israel also has its terrorist past. And, to be sure, there are big differences. But there are also similarities. If you peruse the New York Times coverage of the Middle East in the weeks before and after the 1947 U.N. vote (hey — a guy’s got to have a hobby), you’ll see offhand references to the Irgun and the Stern Gang (two Jewish guerrilla groups) as “Jewish terrorists” — even in its news pages. The label was considered obvious and beyond controversy.
Gingrich said that Palestine had to be invented, and this is true. It is also true of Israel, which didn’t even have a name as it declared its independence in May 1947. President Truman’s typewritten message recognizing the new state has “Jewish state” crossed out and “State of Israel” scrawled in with what looks like pencil.
Modern Jewish nationalism only goes back to 1896, when Theodor Herzl published his book, “Der Judenstaat” (“The Jewish State”), which put the question back in the public debate for the first time in centuries. From 1896 to 1948 is 52 years. That’s how long it took for the Jewish state to go from an idea to a reality. Even if Palestinian nationalism started as late as 1967, 52 years later would be 2019. Eight years from now. I doubt it will take that long.