Thursday, December 20, 2007

Language is Important

The Waterbury Republican-American published an excellent letter today (December 20, 2007). The letter includes a sober analysis of what in the past has effectively been a land for terrorism and war policy.

The letter also contains one example of how even intelligent analysts fall into the trap of using the misleading terminology anti-Israel propagandists have instilled into the general consciousness.

See whether you can find the misleading terminology in the letter before it's described after the letter. If you find any other misleading terminology besides that which I picked out, I'd like to hear about it.

Israel Should Think Twice Before Ceding More Land to Arabs

2008 will find Israel under pressure to return to the Palestinians the West Bank of the Jordan River, a region Israel captured in 1967. Seeking to bolster his legacy, President Bush will use diplomatic levers to force Israel into an agreement. The European Union, no friend of Israel, will pile on. The world media will do their part by publishing stories critical of Israel.

Before yielding, Israel should remember the consequences of its last two land transfers.

In 2000, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak withdrew Israeli troops from southern Lebanon as a gesture of peace. The troops had been deployed in Lebanon since 1982 to prevent Hezbollah, a terrorist group, from attacking Israel. In 2006, Hezbollah attacked Israel from southern Lebanon. More than 150 Israelis died and hundreds were wounded. Nearly 400,000 people fled northern Israel to escape Hezbollah's rockets.

In 2005, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon returned to the Palestinians the Gaza Strip, another territory Israel captured in 1967. Sharon believed his move would promote peace. Instead, Palestinians use Gaza as a base from which to launch rockets into Israel.

Many Israelis oppose giving up more land until the Arab world embraces democracy, which may not happen for years. Other Israelis shout the slogan "land for peace." Ignoring the results from Lebanon and Gaza, they believe the Arab world will accept Israel once the Palestinians get a homeland.

The political debate in Israel will be harsh. Israelis must look into the hearts of Palestinians to see if they want peace or, more likely, just additional time to wear down Israel.

Mark Shea

The misleading language comes up in the very first sentence, which refers to returning the West Bank to the Palestinian Arabs. There is also a later reference to having returned Gaza to the Palestinian Arabs.

Since the Palestinian Arabs have never had possession of the West Bank, which itself would more accurately be referred to as Judea and Samaria, it cannot possibly be returned to them.

Judea and Samaria could be returned to Jordan, which illegally occupied it from 1948 until 1967, but certainly not to the Palestinian Arabs.

Similarly, Gaza was not returned to the Palestinian Arabs, who had never before possessed it; While Gaza could have been returned to Egypt, it was given to the Palestinian Arabs.

The problem involves more than mere semantics; it lies at the heart of some of the negotiations Israel has held, in which there has been talk of an exchange of territory, proposals calling for Israel to give up some of its territory in exchange for the Palestinian Arabs giving Israel territory in the disputed territories on which Israelis are living.

Since the Palestinian Arabs don't possess the territory on which Israelis are living, they can't give it to Israel. The reality is when one talks of an exchange, it's just a way of pressuring Israel to not only give away most of Judea and Samaria, but to also give away portions of what has been part of Israel since its re-establishment in 1948.

Using the misleading language about returning territory leads from a territorial compromise in the West Bank to something that goes way beyond a territorial compromise — a territorial give-away.

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