WHILE YOU STAND ON ONE LEG: Perhaps, the example of an American Jew with a key role in U.S. government involvement with Arabs and Israel using self-respecting terms will embolden more of us grassroots American Jews to do so. But what’s key for us is getting across to the American public in simple words that the Palestine Mandate has already been divided three-quarters for Arabs and one-quarter for Jews, and that unjustly redividing that Jewish quarter in a second “Two-State Solution” would be existentially dangerous to the homeland of Jews.
A U.S. Official Rejected “West Bank … Settlements … Occupation” as Pejoratives This Week. Will American Jews?
United With Israel ran an article this week on U.S. Special Representative for International Relations Jason Greenblatt being interviewed by PBS journalist Judy Woodruff, in the course of which this representative of the United States rejected three terms widely used in Arab-Israeli conflict discourse as anti-Israel pejoratives.
What Representative Greenblatt said, and even how pro-Israel United With Israel characterized what he said, show how far we American Jews have to go in making Israel’s case in the terminology and Western public perception of Palestine equities war.
* “Settlements”: United With Israel reported that Rep. Greenblatt rejected “settlements” as an inappropriate term “to describe Israeli communities located in territories captured by the Jewish State in the 1967 war.” He said “it’s a pejorative term. I use the term neighborhoods and cities.”
He is of course right, which even the American media, which revels in contrasting Jewish “settlements” with nearby “Palestinian neighborhoods … towns … villages,” once a Purim admits. Way back on Saturday, March 16, 2002, the Philadelphia Inquirer, not the most balanced-on-Israel newspaper in the Milky Way Galaxy, ran this “Clearing the Record”:
“In an Inquirer article Thursday on President Bush’s news conference, the words ‘Palestinian settlements’ were used in reference to attacks by the Israeli military in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The attacks were directed at Palestinian towns and refugee camps.”
That those Israeli attacks were directed at terrorists in those “Palestinian towns and refugee camps, not at those Arab civilian-housing places as targets in themselves, was perhaps a subtlety of Arab-Israeli conflict reporting beyond the ken of the Inq, but the main point is that its horrified realization that it had adorned Arab presence in Palestine with the pejorative “settlements” evoked an Inq instant retraction.
But even United With Israel, this pro-Israel Jewish news source that reported Rep. Greenblatt rightly rejecting “Israeli settlements” as pejorative, did us a disservice in referencing Jewish homeland connection to Judea-Samaria and historic Jerusalem in using mainstream media-speak. “Captured by the Jewish State in the 1967 war” short-changes that core Jewish homeland connection to Judea-Samaria and historic Jerusalem by three thousand years. (Well, at least it said “Jewish State” and not “Zionist Entity.”)
* “West Bank”: Rep. Greenblatt, Bless him, wasn’t done. United With Israel: “Greenblatt also referred to the West Bank by its biblical name, Judea and Samaria.” Good for him! But calling “Judea and Samaria” just “biblical names” does us another disservice. It suggests that these names endured just during the long-ago biblical period. In fact, they remained in use all through the post-biblical centuries, including by the United Nations [which makes the MSM seem Zionist] itself in its Palestine partition resolution in 1947: “The boundary of the hill country of Samaria and Judea starts on the Jordan River ….”
That these names remained in use all through the post-biblical centuries evidences a vastly underappreciated cardinal historical fact: Today’s State of Israel is western Palestine’s, the land of Israel’s, next native state after Roman-destroyed Jewish Judaea, that without exception every ruler in-between was a foreign empire invader, and mostly non-Arab at that.
But there’s a further disservice to us in United With Israel characterizing Rep. Greenblatt as having “referred to the West Bank by its biblical name, Judea and Samaria.” This concedes “West Bank” as the real time, and “Judea and Samaria” as a quaint Jewish one. Cf. CAMERA in 2016 criticizing the BBC’s reference to “Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as Temple Mount.” The invader [Trans-]Jordan coined “West Bank” in 1950 for the same reason the Romans had renamed Judaea as Palestine two millennia ago – to disassociate what had been Jewish from Jews.
We American Jews don’t have to buy “West Bank” any more than do Israel’s Jews. By and large, Israeli Jews call Judea and Samaria “Judea and Samaria.” The MSM, while itself anointing “West Bank” as the real name, acknowledges that Israelis do not. See Washington Post, 10/10/17: “… the West Bank, which most Israelis refer to as Judea and Samaria”; Christian Science Monitor, 9/29/09: “… the northern West Bank (known in Israel as Samaria)”, “… the southern West Bank (known as Judea).” American Jews, even those wedded to “The Two-State Solution,” should not succumb to “West Bank.”
* “Occupation”: Rep. Greenblatt still wasn’t done: “‘I would argue that the land [Judea and Samaria] is disputed. It needs to be resolved in the context of direct negotiation between the parties. Calling it occupied territory does not help resolve the conflict,’ the Trump advisor told PBS.”
And I would go one step further. We American Jews calling Judea-Samaria “disputed” does not go far enough. Not just the Jewish homeland’s adversaries, but the world doesn’t go along with “disputed.” It calls Judea and Samaria and historic Jerusalem “occupied Palestinian territory.” UNSC 2334, adopted 14-0-1:
“… the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-state solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”
An effective response to the argument that Judea, Samaria and historic Jerusalem are Arab is not that they’re “disputed” and that 242, which was trampled upon by 2334, doesn’t say “the,” but that they’re ours, integral parts of the land of Israel, of which historic Jerusalem is the very core.
There are sound legal and historical grounds supporting the Jewish homeland case, but in the Western public opinion war we also have to encapsulate our arguments in the same brief expressions our adversaries have so successfully done – e.g., “occupied Palestinian territories … settlements … West Bank and East Jerusalem …ultra-nationalists’ Greater Israel”, the 1949 ceasefire lines as “the 1967 borders,” the [western Palestine] ‘Two-State-Solution,’ even Palestinian Arabs as “THE Palestinians.”
So what simple straight-forward expression of ours, with facts and law behind it, can effectively counter in Western public perception the relentless campaign to drive the Jewish homeland from its half-century possession of the entirety of the land of Israel back to nine-miles-wide in the lowland middle ceasefire lines of a 1948-49 war, sans historic Jerusalem and the Judea-Samaria hill country heartland, and with Arab forces back at Latrun? An expression that conveys an equitable division, two-state solution, of the Palestine Mandate between Arabs and Jews by including all of the Palestine Mandate in that division, not just the part that hasn’t already been apportioned just to the Arabs. The expression “Jordan Is Arab Palestine” conveys this, backed by the simply understood facts that Jordan was part of the original Palestine Mandate and has a majority population of Palestinian Arabs. Ignoring Jordan as part of Palestine is arguing “What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is negotiable.”
Yes, there are “reality” issues regarding acceptance of Jordan & Israel as the Palestine Mandate’s “two-state solution,” but such issues are real regarding a western Palestine two-state solution too, not least Palestinian Arab rejection of “two states for two peoples” and their insistence on “the right of return,” and that an Israel on the 1949 ceasefire lines would be both Jerusalem-less and existentially indefensible. What matters at present is self-respectingly impressing upon Western public perception that recognizing Jordan, 78% of the Mandate, and Israel, 22%, as the Palestine Mandate’s “two-state solution” is equitable to both Arabs and Jews, and that inserting inside the land of Israel a second Palestinian Arab state is not.