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What's a Palestinian?

Uncovering Cultural Complexities

The Palestinian flag flies after being raised by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a ceremony outside the United Nations during the 70th session of the U. N. General Assembly in New York, September 30, 2015. Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Last week, on his return from a tour of the Holy Land, former Governor of Arkansas and Republican presidential nomination candidate Mike Huckabee said to The Washington Post that “there’s really no such thing as the Palestinians.”

“The idea that they have a long history, dating back hundreds or thousands of years, is not true,” Huckabee continued, citing one of the tour’s speakers, Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein.

Huckabee’s comments are far from the first on the issue from a United States politician. “There was no Palestine as a state,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told the Jewish Channel when running for president in 2011. “It was part of the Ottoman Empire. I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people who are in fact Arabs.”

It is not often that American presidential candidates make public pronouncements about the historical origins of national identities, but the

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