The power of words

So how come we are now so outclassed and outmaneuvered when it comes to defining Israel and who we are?. Let me show you what I mean:

- "Israel was established in 1948 by UN Mandate"...we take this phrase to be a cornerstone of the right of Israel to exist, but let us think for a minute what it means..."Israel was established in 1948" as in "Israel was set up by an outside agent where nothing existed before". In fact, by 1948, the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine had well established insititutions, Universities, and a communal government. Forced by circumstances it had also established a defense organization (Haganah) and it had developed novel forms of agricultural work such as the Kibbutz, the Moshav and the Moshavah. So maybe the proper way to express this would be that "Israel declared independence in 1948 within the boundaries imposed to it by the UN resolution on Partition of Palestine"

"The Israeli settlements in the Occupied territories" appears to many of us as an accurate description of the realities on the ground, but is it?

- In 1947, the UN voted the partition of Palestine in two states, one Arab and one Jewish. Palestinian Jews declared independence and named their country "Israel"; Palestinian Arabs made an appeal to the Arab world to help them expel the Jews and take it all over. They failed, and after the war those parts of the Arab State according to the Partition Resolution which were not occupied by Israel, were occupied by Jordan (West Bank) and Egypt (Gaza). Jordan annexed the West Bank and Egypt kept Gaza under Military occupation and separated by checkpoints and border crossings from Egypt proper. The Arab countries never recognized the borders of Israel but considered them a "Cease Fire line", a fact which they made abundantly clear when negotiating the cease fire in Rhodes. In 1967, while defending itself of yet another attempt by the Arab countries to expel the Jews, Israel came into control of the remaining of Mandatory Palestine. So are these occupied territories? or territories that Israel controls?.

- As for "settlements", it is a direct translation of the Hebrew "Ishuvim" which means indeed settlements, or also "villages" or "Communities", and has no negative connotations as a word - but the negative connotations were given to them by those who wish Israel to cease to exist and see these communities as a symbol of their failure.

"The West Bank" is the way we call the territory west of the Jordan river and East of the Green Line (Cease fire lines of 1949), but it can be defined as West Bank only in reference to the East Bank. It acquired this name as a political definition after Jordan occupied the area during the 1948 war and annexed it to the Hashemite Emirate of TransJordan, changing the name of the country to "Jordan". The historical names are "Judea" and "Samaria", names that were used through history including the Ottoman and British periods of control over the region.

"Israel must accept the two State solution in order to solve the conflict". The issue has never been Israel's acceptance of this principle:

- In 1948, Jews accepted Partition into two states and declared independence on the area assigned to them by the UN, even when the Arabs had already overrun at the time most of this area and confined the Jews to a fraction of the territory assigned to them by the Partition Resolution.

- In 1967, Israel offered to return the territories in exchange for Peace and recognition. The Arabs' line was apparently busy, because they ignored this opening.

- In 1969, Golda Meir offered the Arabs in the Territories municipal autonomy as a first step towards self-government. The offer was rejected by most and it never came to be.

- In 1993, Israelis signed the Declaration of Principles with Yasser Arafat giving the Palestinians autonomy and setting up steps and conditions by which that autonomy would give way for a Palestinian State.

- In successive agreements in 1994, 1995 and 1996, the area under control of the Palestinian Authority was gradually expanded to the point of including more than 90% of all Arabs living in the territories. Arabs response was an increase in terrorist activity, desecration of Jewish holy sites (The old Synagogue in Jericho and Joseph's Tomb were the two most publicized)

- In 2000, first at Camp David and then in Taba, the Israeli Government offered the Palestinians more than 90% of their demands including the acceptance of a Palestinian State and even control over Arab parts of East Jerusalem. The response was the Intifadah, which contrary to what the name appears tom indicate ("uprising") it was in fact a well orchestrated and well organized war, which should more properly be referred to as "Arafat's war", since he conceived it and implemented it, as many of his lieutenants said after the war started.

- In 2005, frustrated by the inability of Palestinians to reach an agreement, Ariel Sharon ordered the unilateral disengagement by evacuating all Jewish citizens and military personnel from the Gaza strip. The Arab response was the election of Hamas, Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip and the beginning of a war of attrition, with rockets falling into Israeli civilian centers within the green line on a daily basis.

The list can go on, but this should suffice to show who is really rejecting the "Two State solution".

These are just part of the cases in which we unwittingly use the language of those who would like to destroy Israel to define ourselves in a way not dissimilar to how we used the antisemitism of the outside world to keep communal cohesion for many years or Christian descriptions of Jewish Identity to define ourselves.

While I personally believe that it is important to grant the Palestinian Arabs the control over the lives that their Arab brothers denied them over the years, any discussion of the subject needs to be framed in a truthful way. No Justice and no real Peace is possible without Truth.

Zionism is about Jews taking charge of our own destiny, and it is time we do it.


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