Thursday, March 02, 2006

Terminology is everything!

In the terminology war, Israel is losing. The term 'Palestine', even though no such entity exists, is frequently used. Even the Oscars and the Olympics have a 'Palestine' and pretty much every reporter refers to a Palestine.
Almost everyone in the western media refer to the area the other side of the 1967 armistice lines (Green line) as the 'Occupied territories'. Even in Israel, Ariel Sharon used the term 'occupation', no 'disputed territories' or just 'territories' or heaven forbid a far older name 'Judea and Samaria'.
Terminology is no unimportant thing. It creates perceptions in the mind of the listener or the reader. If there is a reference to Palestine, then surely it exists and so what are the Israelis negotiating for? These references pre-judge negotiations, below are some opinions on this matter.
According to Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the problem with using the term Palestine is that "it really short-circuits the process that could lead to a peaceful solution."
Why, he asks, would Palestinians compromise if they feel they are "getting everything," including international recognition, already?
Alan Schneider, director of the B'nai B'rith World Center, is worried not just about what the word "Palestine" means for on-the-ground negotiations, but how it fits into a wider international campaign against Israel. B'nai B'rith, he says, was the first organization to protest the use of "Palestine" at the last Olympics.
"It perpetuates the lie that there was [historically] a Palestinian state. You undermine Israeli sovereignty at some point," he says, explaining that, "If you insist that there's a state in this area called Palestine, it has to overlap Israel. Where is it? Where's its capital?"
In short, he says, "It's part of the disinformation campaign. It's part of the deligitimization campaign."
A campaign that on some levels seems to be working. "Well-informed individuals are starting to believe that there was a Palestinian state before 1947," Dore Gold of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs notes.

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