Elements of Mideast StyleBy Mike Konrad
The Mideast has raised linguistic dishonesty to new levels. I daily watch videos and read articles where language is contorted and twisted until what is said has absolutely no meaning. If for no other reason than sheer honesty, we should agree on some terms.
The first dishonest term is: "The Peace Process." It is anything but. Arafat called Oslo a hudna, a temporary truce at best. Muslims regularly violate such truces, as did the Palestinians, as the opportunity presented itself.
From now on, it should be referred to as: "The Peace Facade." There is no peace. There is no process. There is only a facade, because no one wants to admit Oslo is dead.
"The Peace Facade" is the preferred term. "The Peace Process" should be avoided.
The next term to go is: "the West Bank." This is term was never used until after Jordan annexed the area in 1949; and was meant to positionally refer to its location west of Jordan. Historically, it was called "Judea and Samaria;" and since Jordan surrendered claims to the area in 1988, there is no need to keep the old nomenclature. The Arabs will never use the term since it indicates a Jewish history, but "Judea and Samaria" is the correct historical name of the area; and should always be used.
"Judea and Samaria" is the mandatory usage. One may append "(West Bank)," in parentheses, for clarity.
The next term is: "the Harem al-Sharif," (the Noble Sanctuary), which is the Arab name for the Temple Mount. The Quran never mentions Jerusalem even once. Mohammed's night journey was to "the furthest Mosque." Inasmuch as there were no mosques in Jerusalem during Mohammed's lifetime, he could not have possibly set foot in Jerusalem. Any Arab religions claims to the area are void.
The term "Temple Mount" is not only preferred here, but mandatory.
The "Al-Aqsa" (the furthest) Mosque -- one of the mosques on the Temple Mount -- is a deceptive name, for the reasons state above. With no alternative name, my I suggest the term, "Southern Mosque," due to its location on the southern end of the Temple Mount. For clarity, the parentheses "(erroneously labeled Al-Aqsa)" can be appended until the term become commonplace.
The term "Southern Mosque" is preferred, but "Southern Mosque (erroneously labeled Al-Aqsa)" can be used, where warranted. "Al-Aqsa" should be avoided.
The term "Al-Quds," which is the Arab name for Jerusalem is dishonest. It is a corruption of "Qadosh," which is Hebrew for "holy," thus its very name belies its claim; as it shows a Jewish origin.
"Jerusalem," is mandatory. "Al-Quds" is to be avoided.
This next term is up for debate (and might be determined in the comment section).
"Settlers." Technically, this is a neutral term. The media has made it an ugly term, by usage; but the media would have colored any term made available to them. Jews in Judea and Samaria hate the term since it has an affiliation with a colonial process. Maybe so, but even right-wing Zionist visionary Ze'ev Jabotinsky said that the Jews would have to use colonial methods.
If Jabotinsky embraced the term: "colonist," what could possibly be wrong with the softer term: "settler?"
One could use "pioneer," which has a more positive sense; but even that term can have an affiliation with colonial histories, as colonists were often called pioneers.
Some Zionist activists insist on the term: "revenant," which means one who returns after a lengthy absence. The problem with "revenant" is that a long absence, in both Ottoman and Western Law, might void one's claim to the land. More importantly, most people have no idea what the term, "revenant," means, which defeats the purpose of using the term.
Multi-word phrases like "Jews, returning to their sacred patrimony," might be precise; but are too unwieldy to use more than once in any essay. Long adjectival clauses should be avoided, no matter how accurate.
"Pioneer" or "settler" is acceptable. "Settler" is deprecated in some circles. Avoid "revenant."
However, "communities" should be preferred over "settlements" for describing the pioneer (or settler) municipalities. The term, "settlements," is very loaded, even independent of how one judges the neutrality of the term "settlers." "Communities" is truly neutral.
"Communities" is preferred. "Settlements" can be acceptable; but troublesome.
"Occupied," should be avoided. Israel has a claim on the land, and cannot be called an occupier. Neither can the Palestinians be called occupiers as many have been there for generations.
The Islamic invaders often did not so much replace local peoples as convert them, and intermarry. Some locals might very well have roots back to the First Century AD in the land, some with early Jewish and Christian ancestors, though obviously watered down and forgotten.
While some Palestinians are relative newcomers, as Joan Peters averred, many are indigenous for centuries.
"Occupied," and "occupier," should be avoided, no matter which community is being referred to.
The next term will be controversial. "Palestinian." Many right-wing Zionists say this is an invented people, and term, which only goes back to the PLO charter of 1964. While I understand their ardor to assert a Jewish primacy, the term "Palestinian," goes back a long way before 1964.
Palestinians did have an identity. There was a nationalist newspaper called Filastin founded in 1911 by two Greek Orthodox Christian Palestinians. If one wants to stretch it, there was a local revolt in 1834, against outsider rule hailing from Egypt; though it was more Muslim in nature with a severe anti-Christian and anti-Jewish bias.
Christian Arab immigrants from Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour were calling themselves Palestinians when they arrived in Chile, starting in 1890. In fact they set up a local -- now major league -- soccer team called Palestino in August, 1920. (Source: Spanish)
The only viable argument that can be proffered against this early claim of Palestinian identity is that it seems to have emerged first among Christians, a local minority. Christians were exposed to Western ideas, such as the nation-state, from pilgrims, while Muslims were wedded to the idea of the Caliphate. By 1911, Palestinian nationalism had emerged strong enough to warrant a newspaper; and even Muslims were starting to embrace it. By the 1920s, it had emerged among Muslims as well.
Yes, a few Palestinian politicians have spoke of Palestine as merely a ruse de guerre. Israelis, of all people, should know enough that all politicians say stupid things. The evidence indicates an earlier national identity, in spite of stupid Palestinian spokesmen.
Nations invent themselves all the time. It is foolish to make the term "Palestinian" a bone of contention, especially since there is good evidence of a Palestinian identity. This does not void Jewish primacy; but it avoids dishonest historic denial.
The term "Palestinian" is acceptable. Arab is acceptable, though not precise.
The next term is "East Jerusalem." This is not only loaded, but dishonest. Cities should not be divided. Berlin proved that. Suggested terms: "eastern half of Jerusalem," or "the Arab section of Jerusalem."
"East Jerusalem" should be avoided.
There is a vicious term creeping up on the web, "Judaization," as in the "Judaization of East Jerusalem." What a linguistic monstrosity. Jerusalem has always been associated with the Jews. To use this dishonest neologism of "Judaization" in the context of the equally dishonest, "East Jerusalem," is to assert a separate Arab existence to what has been a Jewish city. "East Jerusalem" is the Old City, and had a Jewish majority by the middle of the 19th century. It is not being "Judaized." It was "Arabized."
I know there are reports that the term came from Israeli civil planners using the term to describe a reassertion of Jewish demographics in the Galilee; but as noted avoid above, politicians, and government officials say dumb things. "Re-Judaization" should have been used, as it avoids denying the history of Jewish connection to the area.
Yes, it is true that Israel wants to plant pioneers (settlers) in the eastern half of Jerusalem. Make no mistake about it, Israel would prefer if the Arabs were not there, even rescinding residencies of Arabs, whenever possible. Whether one agrees with the Israeli policy or not, the honest description of the policy would be the "the Re-Judaization of Arabized Jerusalem areas." The term "Judaization," alone implies that Jews have no connection to the area at all, which is a historical lie of the first magnitude.
"Judaization" is to be avoided. "Re-Judaization" is preferred. "De-Arabization" is deprecated.
Another term is: "Apartheid," and this is a difficult matter; chiefly because of the way clumsy Israeli apologists try to finesse their way around the term. Even Israeli leaders have used the term.
"Apartheid" is Afrikaans for Apart-ness or Separation. Israeli Jews do use the term, "separation fence, (Geder HaHafrada)" for the Wall, which, unfortunately, could be translated: "Apartheid fence."
Clearly, Israel does not have separate bathrooms and water fountains, like the Afrikaners or Jim Crow Southerners did; but for security reasons they do separate Jews and Arabs at times, especially Arabs from Judea and Samaria. Israeli ID cards used to plainly state one's ethnicity. Even though that has been removed, the card's features differ according to ethnicity.
Clearly, this is understandable from a security point of view, but it is a problem, when one tries to deny the charge of Apartheid. Israel law allows admission committees in exclusive communities, which some say is discriminatory. In context, Israeli discrimination against Arabs is nowhere near as severe as what was done to Jews in Araby, but neither can it be denied.
What is frustrating is to see Israeli spokesman deny the charge of Apartheid in Judea and Samaria by saying Israeli-Arabs can vote in Israeli elections. This is a logical fallacy as the Arab in Israel and the Arabs in Judea and Samaria are two different matters. Israeli spokesmen are lucky they have not been called out on it, so far.
I have no idea how to address the "Apartheid Wall" term. Israel does not operate from the same premise as the Apartheid system in South Africa; but there are bureaucratic and security preferences for one group over the other. At checkpoints, Israeli cars can speed right through, while Arab cars are kept in line. There have been reports of Israeli Arabs being harassed
The best I can come up with is to use "Security," instead of "Apartheid." There does seem to be evidence that Israel uses the bureaucratic tie-ups, not only for security, but also for social coercion of the Arabs, so even the term "security" might be loaded in the other direction. However, I am not comfortable with any of the terms. Suggestions would be appreciated.
"Security" is preferred. "Apartheid" is deprecated, but not ruled out. Use caution.
I hope this clears up some grammar. Working on the next revision.
Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who is neither Jewish, Latin, nor Arab. He runs a website, http://latinarabia.com// where he discusses the subculture of Arabs in Latin America. He wishes his Spanish were better.
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