Mainstream Western media coverage of Israel is laced with expressions intentionally crafted to delegitimize the Jewish state. By forfeiting this language, we forfeit our history. The good news is that these terms weren’t written in stone 3,300 years ago, but are post-Israel independence creations.
Here are 10 phrases we must stop repeating:
#1 – “The West Bank.” No, it’s not. “Judea and Samaria” are not just “biblical names,” but the names the hill country of Israel was known by from ancient times, including in the United Nation’s 1947 partition resolution, until after Transjordan invaded in 1948 (and was ousted by Israel in 1967) and named it such to disassociate its inherent Jewish connection.
#2 – “East” or “traditionally Arab East” Jerusalem. Jerusalem has been the capital of three homeland states, all Jewish, in the past 3,000 years, and has had a renewed Jewish majority since 1800’s Ottoman rule. Palestinian Arabs have never ruled any part of Jerusalem. There was no such place as “East” Jerusalem until invading Jordan seized the historical heart of the city in 1948 and expelled its Jews; until then, it had never been a divided city. The eastern section of the city is where the Old City, Jewish Quarter, Temple Mount, Mount of Olives cemetery, Christian Quarter and Church of the Holy Sepulcre are located. Jerusalem is Judaism’s holiest city; it’s not holy to Muslims and is not mentioned once in the Koran. Only since Israel reunified the city has there been equal rights and access to religious sites of all faiths. Say rather: Jerusalem, period.
#3 – “The U.N. sought to create Jewish and Palestinian states.” It did not. Over and over in its 1947 partition resolution, the United Nations referenced “the Jewish State” and “the Arab” [not “Palestinian”] State. There are 21 independent Arab states.
#4 – “Palestinian refugees of the war that followed Israel’s creation,” or the “Palestinian refugee issue.” This suggests that an indigenous population of Arab “Palestinians” was unilaterally displaced by the 1948 five-Arab-state-army invasion for Israel’s destruction, which encouraged and ordered local Arabs to leave. Much forgotten is that more Jews were consequently expelled from vast Arab lands they had lived in for many centuries (850,000 to 900,000) than Arabs left tiny Israel (650,000 to 700,000).
#5 – Israel “seized” Arab lands in 1967. It did not. Israel captured these territories in a defensive war from Arabs who vowed to destroy it. Israel has greater historic legal claims and rights to these lands.
#6 – Israel’s “1967 borders.” The 1949 Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement expressly declared the “Green Line” it drew between the two sides’ ceasefire positions as a military ceasefire line only and not a political border. The post-1967 war U.N. Resolution 242 pointedly does not demand that Israel retreat from these lines.
#7 – “Israeli-Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.” No. The 1920 League of Nations Palestine Mandate recognized the Jewish people’s right to reconstitute its Jewish National Home in Palestine (including Judea and Samaria, and what ultimately became Jordan), and called for close settlement of the Jews on this land, where Jews have continuously lived, claiming it as their homeland, for three thousand years. It is the cradle of Jewish civilization. At worst, the legal status is disputed, not “occupied” or “Palestinian” territories.
#8 – “Jewish settlers and settlements” vs. “Palestinian residents of neighborhoods and villages.” Jews are not alien “settlers” implying “occupiers” in a Jerusalem that’s had a Jewish majority since mid-19th century or in the Judea-Samaria Jewish historical heartland. Israelis living there are residents who live in cities, towns and villages. Dozens of “Arab” towns have Hebrew origins.
#9 – “Palestinian Moderates.” No, they’re not. Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Palestinian Authority who is in the 14th year of his four-year term, is proclaimed by the media to be a “moderate” yet he demands Israel’s retreat to the 1949 ceasefire lines; removal of Jews from Judea, Samaria and all of Jerusalem, while demanding a “right of return” for millions of Arabs into shrunken Israel; rejects “two states for two peoples;” refuses to permit normalization between Jews and Arabs; will not permit a Jew to live on any “Palestinian land,” thus calling for a Judenrein state; preaches a culture of hatred and death to Jews in their mosques, schools, camps and media; names streets, squares, buildings for their so-called shahids (“martyrs”) who have killed Israelis in terrorist attacks; refuses to stop the “pay to slay” program of paying Palestinian Arabs to kill Israelis by rewarding the killers and their families with lifetime pensions, thus incentivizing the murder of Jews; shuns peace talks with Israel and has been uncooperative with U.S. mediators; repeatedly moves to delegitimize Israel with U.N. bodies; and allows death sentences to those who would sell land to Jews.
#10 – “The Palestinians.” During the British Mandate, “Palestinian” typically referred to Palestine’s Jews. The U.N.’s 1947 partition resolution called Palestine’s Jews and its Arabs “the two Palestinian peoples.” Palestinian Arabs—ancestrally, culturally, linguistically and religiously are akin to neighboring regional Arabs—began claiming exclusive “Palestinian peoplehood” only in the 1960s. Post-1967 war U.N. Resolution 242 does not mention “Palestinians.” Most Palestinian Arabs cannot trace their own lineage to the land back more than four generations.
Lee Bender is the co-author of the book, “Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z,” author of dozens of published articles, co-founder of the website www.factsonisrael.com and co-president of the Zionist Organization of America-Greater Philadelphia Chapter.
Jerome R. Verlin, a former vice president of ZOA’s Greater Philadelphia Chapter, is the author of the book, “Israel 3,000 Years: The Jewish People’s 3,000 Year Presence in Palestine,” co-author of “Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-Z” and co-founder of www.factsonisrael.com.