Mainstream Western media coverage of Israel is laced with expressions intentionally crafted to delegitimize the Jewish State. The good news is that these terms weren’t written in stone 3,300 years ago, but are post-Israel independence creations. By using this language, we forfeit our history. Here are 13 phrases we must stop repeating.
#1 – “West Bank:” Claims that “Judea and Samaria” is simply the “biblical name for the West Bank” stands history on its head. The Hebrew-origin terms “Judea” and “Samaria” were used through 1950, when invading [Trans]Jordan renamed them the “West Bank” in order to disassociate these areas of the Jewish homeland from Jews. The UN’s own 1947 partition resolution referred not to “West Bank,” but to “the hill country of Samaria and Judea.” This term is not shorthand for “Judea and Samaria.” Under this formulation, Jordan is the “East Bank” of the original Palestine Mandate, which was designated as the homeland for the Jewish People.
#2 – “East” Jerusalem or “traditionally Arab East” Jerusalem: From the city’s second millennium BCE origins until 1947 CE, there was no such place as “East” Jerusalem. The 19 years between when invading Jordan captured part of the city in 1948 and was ousted by Israel in 1967 was the only time in history, except between 638 and 1099, when Arabs ruled any part of Jerusalem. Palestinian Arabs have not ruled an inch of it for one day in history. In the past three millennia, Jerusalem has been the capital of three native states – Judah, Judaea, and modern Israel – and has had a renewed Jewish majority since 19thcentury Turkish rule. Eastern Jerusalem is a neighborhood of the city that Israel reunified in 1967.
#3 – “The UN sought to create Jewish and Palestinian States:” It did not. Partitioning Palestine between “Palestinians” and Jews is like partitioning Pennsylvania between Pennsylvanians and Jews. Over and over in its 1947 partition resolution, the UN referenced “the Jewish State” and “the Arab” [not “Palestinian”] State.
#4 – 1948 was the “Creation” and “Founding” of Israel: Israel wasn’t “created” and “founded” in 1948 artificially and out-of-the-blue. Israel attained independence that year as the natural fruition into renewed statehood of a people that had twice before been independent in that land, and after centuries of hard work to re-establish a Jewish State in this historic homeland.
#5 – “The War that Followed Israel’s Creation:” Israeli did not choose this war; it was hoisted on Israel by almost every Arab state, which rejected the UN partition and tried to push the Jews of Israel into the sea. And it was a homeland Jewish army, Haganah, which became the IDF, that threw back that multi-nation foreign invasion.
#6– “Palestinian Refugees of the War that Followed Israel’s Creation,” or the “Palestinian Refugee Issue:” It was the invading Arab nations bent on Israel’s destruction that both encouraged and caused the bulk of the Arabs to flee Israel. And a greater number of media constantly ignore the indigenous Middle Eastern Jews who were expelled from vast Arab and other Muslim lands in the wake of the Arab-Israeli War. Their number is greater than the amount of Arabs that fled tiny Israel. That Israel absorbed the bulk of these Jews, while Arab “hosts,”including in Palestine itself, isolate the Arab refugees’ descendants in Western-supported “refugee camps” does not convert the Arab-Israeli conflict’s two-sided refugee issue into a “Palestinian” refugee issue. Had the Palestinian Arabs accepted the UN partition plan, they would also have been celebrating their 66th anniversary.
#7 – Israel “Seized”Arab Lands in 1967: It did not. The 1967 war, like its predecessors, was a defensive war forced upon Israel. Israel’s neighbors did not want to compromise; they simply wanted to destroy the Jewish State. The new Israeli territory was meant to provide a security barrier and ensure this could never happen. Moreover, these were not “Arab Lands.”
#8 – 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, without prejudice to either side’s political border claims.The post-’67 war UN resolution 242 pointedly did not demand Israel retreat from these lines.
#9 – “Israeli-Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem:” That the media insistently calls Israeli presence in the heart of Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria “Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories” does not make it so. “Occupation” is an international law term referencing foreign presence in the sovereign territory of another state. The land of Israel’s last sovereign native state before modern Israel was Jewish Judaea. The land ratio of Arab lands to Israel is 625-1, 23 states to one.
#10 – “Jewish Settlers and Settlements” vs. “Palestinian Residents of Neighborhoods and Villages:” A favorite media news article contrast is referencing in the same sentence “Jewish settlers” in “settlements” and “Palestinian residents” of nearby “neighborhoods” and “villages.” Jews are not alien“ settlers” in a Jerusalem that’s had a Jewish majority since 19th century times or in the Judea-Samaria Jewish historical heartland.
#11 – Israel’s “Jewish State” recognition is “a new stumbling block”: New since Moses’ time. The Jewish homeland of Israel, including continuous homeland-claiming Jewish presence, has always been central to Jewish peoplehood. In 1947, British Foreign Secretary Bevin told Parliament that the Jews’ “essential point of principle” was Jewish Palestine sovereignty.
#12 – “Palestinians accept and Israel rejects a Two-State Solution:” Wrong on both counts. Both the U.S. and Israel define ‘Two States’ as two states for two peoples – Jews and Arabs. Many on the Arab side insistently rejects two states for two peoples. Many Israelis, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, support that plan – conditioned on an end to Palestinian terror. The Arabs continuously and consistently deny Israel’s right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish People, no matter where its borders are drawn.
#13 – “The Palestinians:” The United Nations’ 1947 partition resolution called Palestine’s Arabs and Jews “the two Palestinian peoples.” Nothing is more self-delegitimizing and counter-productive to achieving peace based on Arab recognition of Jews’ right to be there, than that Jews should go around calling Palestinian Arabs “The Palestinians.” They have no distinguishing language, religion, or culture from neighboring Arabs, and have never been sovereign in Palestine, whereas the Jews, with a presence stretching back three millennia, have had three states there, all Jerusalem-based. Most Palestinian Arabs cannot trace their own lineage to the land back more than 4 generations.
Authors: Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin
Lee S. Bender is an attorney and co-President of ZOA-Greater Philadelphia District and board member of Israel Advocacy Committee of Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Jerome R. Verlin is a software developer, a VP of ZOA-GPD, and a past president of the fraternal order Brith Sholom. This article was published in The Algemeiner.