Posted by on December 12, 2011 in Blog

By Jamila Benkato

On Saturday December 12, Republican candidates (with the exception of Jon Huntsman) met in Des Moines, Iowa for a debate on issues ranging from job creation to Israel. Below we have pulled the most interesting quotes from the debate regarding immigration and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some are lengthy, but all are worth the read. We especially direct your attention to Newt Gingrich's take on Palestine.




“I think most of the workers who are here who have no ties to us should go home immediately. I think we should make deportation dramatically easier. This is, I think frankly we oughta make English the official language of government. And we oughta have an effective guest worker program with very severe penalties for those employers who hire people illegally.”

“Well, I-- that's why you have the citizen review panel. The per-- the person has to have been here 25 years, have genuine ties to the community, be a good citizen, and have an American family sponsor them. And they still don't get citizenship. This is not amnesty. They get residency. And they pay a penalty in order to get residency. “


“Secure the border. Once we do that, we can start talking about the 11 million or whatever number that may be that are in the country illegally. My own view is those 11-- 11 million people should register the fact that they're here in the country. They should be given some transition period of time to allow them to-- settle their affairs and then return home and get in the-- in line at the back of the line with everybody else that wants to come here.”

“I do not want to do something which encourages another wave of illegal immigration. So, from my view-- viewpoint, the key-- the key measure is this: No favoritism for permanent residency or citizenship for those that have come here illegally.”


“You will not see a catch and release program like this administration has today th-- where people who are caught who are illegally in this country, and because they haven't been (RUSTLING) caught in a violent situation, they're released. Released into the general population. That's the problem that we've got in this country.”

[Note: It’s only slightly awkward that Perry refers to current immigration enforcement policy as “catch and release” – the term used by recreational fishermen to refer to the population management of…fish.]



[in reference to Gingrich’s claim that the Palestinians are an “invented” people] “N-- no, I don't agree with that. And that's just stirrin' up trouble. And I-- I believe in a non-interventionist foreign policy. I don't think we should get in the middle of these squabbles. But to go out of our way and say that so-and-so is not a real people? Technically and historically, yes-- you know, under the Ottoman Empire, the Palestinians didn't have a state, but neither did Israel have a state then too….But-- historically, it-- it-- you know, under the Ottoman Empire, that i-- that is-- technically-- correct.”


[In response to a question about chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat’s comment: “Mark my words: These statements of Gingrich will be the ammunition and weapons of the bin Ladens and the extremists for a long, long time.”] “How would he know the difference? Look from historic, George, simply. Is-- is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes. Are we in a situation where every day, rockets are fired into Israel while the United States, the current administration, tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process?

Hamas does not admit the-- the right of Israel to exist, and says publicly, ‘Not a single Jew will remain.’ The Palestinian Authority ambassador to India said last month, "There is no difference between Fatah and Hamas. We both agree Israel has no right to exist."

Somebody oughta have the courage to tell the truth: These people are terrorists. They teach terrorism in their schools. They have textbooks that say, ‘If there are 13 Jews and nine Jews are killed, how many Jews are left?’ We pay for those textbooks through our aid money. It's fundamentally-- time for somebody to have the guts to stand up and say, ‘Enough lying about the Middle East.’”

“The fact is, the Palestinian claim to a right of return is based on a historically false story. Somebody oughta have the courage to go all the way back to the 1921 League of Nations mandate for a Jewish homeland, point out the context in which Israel came into existence, and "Palestinian" did not become a common term until after 1977.”

[Note: In the first lengthy quote above, Gingrich seems to question Erekat’s ability to tell extremists from non-extremists. He then refers to Palestinians in general as “these people” and “terrorists.” Overall his remarks here are the most extreme in any debate to date, with the exception of most c’ndidates' remarks at RJC 2012.]


“My view is this: We stand with the Israeli people. We link arms with them. If we disagree with them, like this president has time and time again, we don't do it in public like he's done it, we do it in private. And we let the Israeli leadership describe what they believe the right course is going forward.” 

“And therefore, before I made a statement of that nature, I'd get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say, ‘Would it help if I said this? What would you like me to do? Let's work together, because we're partners.’ I'm not a bomb thrower, rhetorically or literally.”

[Note: Romney here is saying that he would run his foreign policy by a foreign head of state before acting – essentially that he would act in the interests of Israel, not the United States. I’m sure this was not the intended explicit meaning – but nevertheless, there it is.]


“When I was in [Israel], I-- I had asked Fayad about the issue that we were very concerned about, and that's how the Palestinians teach their children to hate the Jews and call them pigs and swine and descendants from Hades. …I pulled out a manila envelope that I'd brought with me, and I pulled out the pages that I'd photocopied out of current books that were being used that clearly showed that. And he said, ‘Oh, but these are old textbooks.’ And he said-- I said, ‘Really? Well, then why don't you send me the new textbooks that no longer say that and compare them with the old?’ And I checked my mailbox today; he still hasn't me those textbooks.”


“We are to be their ally, we're to be-- supporting them. And I'm-- I-- I've been out here very publicly-- that the Israelis have the right to determine what happens in their land. And all of Israel, including the quote-- you know, West Bank, is Israeli land.”


Transcript from ABC available here.

comments powered by Disqus