West Bank


The Jerusalem Post’s 1/10/15 “Words Matter” editorial stated that what is “absurd” about the term “West Bank” is that Jordan adopted it in the 1950’s “in an attempt to legitimize its illegal occupation of the region as the result of its aggression in 1948,” that before then, “the British Mandatory authorities commonly referred to the area as Judea and Samaria,” [as had the U.N. in its attempted partition resolution in 1947]. The editorial asks “what happened to Judea and Samaria … the Roman occupiers’ Latinized translation of the biblical Hebrew names Yehuda and Shomron … ignored by the world’s media”?

The Media Calls “Judea-Samaria” the “Biblical Name” for “the West Bank”

*** New York Times (Bronner), quoting Netanyahu, 10/3/10:

“‘Everyone knows that restrained and moderate building in Judea and Samaria in the coming year will not affect the peace map at all,’ he [Bibi] said, according to the [Israeli] officials, using the biblical term for the West Bank.” [emphasis added]

*** The Washington Post, 3/2/15, quoted a statement by Netanyahu’s Likud party referencing “Judea and Samaria.” The Washington Post explained to readers: “Judea and Samaria are the biblical names for today’s West Bank.”
But “Judea-Samaria” Remained In Use Throughout History

“Judea and Samaria” are indeed the biblical names, but they were also the names that remained in use all through the centuries up to the mid-20th century, including until [Trans-]Jordan rechristened them, so to speak, “West Bank” in 1950, by 20th century ruling Turks and British, and by the U.N. itself in 1947: “… the hill country of Samaria and Judea ….”

Verlin, Israel 3000 Years: The Jewish People’s 3000 Presence in Palestine, quotes a Christian pilgrim, one Saewulf, who came in 1102, on the heels of the Crusaders. He wrote:

“On this side of the Jordan is the region called Judea, as far as the sea.”

Here’s the term the U.N. used in CE 1947:

“The boundary of the hill country of Samaria and Judea starts on the Jordan River …. [emphasis added]

Amb. Yoram Ettinger, Israel Hayom, 12/16/11:

“In April 1950, the Jordanian occupation renamed Judea/Samaria as ‘the West Bank’ to assert Jordanian rule and to expunge Jewish connection to the cradle of Jewish history. Until 1950, all official Ottoman, British and prior records referred to ‘Judea and Samaria’ and not to the ‘West Bank.’”
Media Misportrayals of History

*** A 6/14/14 Los Angeles Times article referred to the place where three Israeli boys were kidnapped by “Palestinian militants” as being “in the southern West Bank area that Israel calls Gush Etzyon.”

The sense you get from reading this LA Times wordplay in the Inq is that within a region with the unquestioned historical name of “West Bank” is an area that just Israel, not settled historical usage, calls “Gush Etzyon,” that while the name “West Bank” is rooted in history, the name “Gush Etzyon” is an Israeli rechristening of a place historically known by a non-Israeli [read “non-Jewish”] name.

The historical facts are [1] the name “Gush Etzion” is older, has deeper historical roots, than the name “West Bank,” and [2] that when Gush Etzion was built and so-named during the Palestine Mandate, not just the name “West Bank” but the area to which that name was later applied – the portion of Palestine west of the Jordan River that invading Trans-Jordan invaded and seized after the Mandate’s end – had no separate existence.

The Jewish Virtual Library section on “The Etzion Bloc (Gush Etzion)” tells us that in 1927 Jewish immigrants from Yemen along with a few ultra-Orthodox Palestinian Jews founded a community between Jerusalem and Hebron they named “Migdal Eder.” It was destroyed during the Arab riots of 1929. The next year, a Jew named Holtzman purchased the site and named the community “Kfar Etzion,” which included an element of his own name. “The word ‘holtz’ in German literally means ‘wood,’ which is translated into Hebrew as ‘etz.’” These residents too were driven out, in the Arab riots of 1936, but Jews returned “between 1943 – 1947, and established four small communities, which were all subsequently destroyed by Arabs during Israel’s War of Independence.” Many (Jewish Virtual Library says 240) of the defenders were massacred after surrendering, but their sacrifice was not in vain, as their battle delayed a large Arab army headed for Jerusalem.

It was not until after that 1948-49 war that Jordan named the portion of western Palestine that it held at the ceasefire, marked by the Israel-Jordan Armistice Agreement’s “green line,” without prejudice to either side’s border claims, as “the West Bank” of its kingdom. Its historical name, which the U.N. itself had used in its Arab-rejected 1947 partition resolution, was “Judea-Samaria.” After Israel dislodged Jordan from its 1948 west-of-the-Jordan conquests in the 1967 war 19 years later, Jews, including descendants of those who had died there in 1948, returned to the Etzion area.

The original Palestine Mandate, the small portion of the old Ottoman Empire not awarded to Arabs, included land both west and east of the Jordan. 78% of that was soon lopped off in 1922 for all-Arab Transjordan and the Jewish National Home was confined to the remaining 22% west of the River, which included Judea-Samaria. Gush Etzion was built and so-named by Jews there during that time. After invading in 1948, Jordan renamed that part of Judea-Samaria that it held as “West Bank,” a name unknown to history for a piece of territory not previously differentiated from the remainder of the land west of the Jordan. Interesting note: should Jordan be named ‘East Bank” as it is the eastern portion of the original Palestine Mandate?

What sense of this was purveyed by the LA Times and Inq’s reference this week in the Inq to “the southern West Bank area that Israel calls Gush Etzyon”?

Jews Senselessly Join In Our Own Delegitimization
For reasons doubtless clear to themselves, many Jewish commentators consciously use “West Bank” in their writings, some seeming to wear it on their sleeve, even their shoulder. Even the Jerusalem Post, author of the sterling “Words Matter” editorial quoted repeatedly herein, has inexcusably used “West Bank” in indirectly quoting a strong Christian Zionist who had emphatically not used it. Arlene Kushner shockingly pointed out on 8/19/15:
Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee is here.  And he has done something that presidential candidates never do:  He visited Shilo, in the Shomron, yesterday, and he said, “I wish that every candidate, Republican or Democrat, would come to Israel to show solidarity with the country that most reflects the mirror image of the American spirit…If you are going to visit Israel, you should visit all of Israel and that would include Judea and Samaria.” (Emphasis added)


An aside here: I sought a URL to provide Huckabee’s quote.  Got it at the JPost, above, but what did the headline say?  “Huckabee: All presidential candidates should visit all of Israel, including W. Bank settlements.”

But excuse me, that is not what he said.  He got it right, referring to Judea and Samaria. In fact, Shilo, where he held a fund-raising dinner, is not “just” a community in Judea and Samaria.  It is the biblical site where the ancient Tabernacle rested – indicating not only sanctity, but the tie of the Jewish people to the land.  Yesterday, Huckabee spoke about this sacred spot that has been preserved for people of faith. Mike Huckabee is an evangelical believer.

EXHIBITS: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 13, 21, 23, 25, 26, 28, 33, 34, 35, 38, 39a, 41, 42, 52, 53, 59, 60, 62, 63, 64, 66, 68