During 2005 the Israelis and most main media trumpeted the "disengagement"
from Gaza, and claimed that bold steps had been taken to resolve the conflict.
Despite these claims, the reality is that more Palestinian land has been stolen,
many have been dispossessed, and ethnic cleansing has been exacerbated especially
in Jerusalem. Meanwhile Israelis are orchestrating a propaganda campaign to
hide this latest sordid chapter of dispossession. The main feature of this campaign
is its invisibility: Israel and its media surrogates are effectively diverting
attention from what is happening on the ground. There are virtually no reports
about the progress of the construction of the wall and the effect it is having
on those caught in its path. Furthermore, it is evident that events have been
stage-managed and over hyped to divert media attention elsewhere, e.g., the
hoopla surrounding the eviction of the settlers in Gaza .
The third feature is the adoption of propaganda-tainted words; these are a subtle
means of altering the perception of the Palestinian condition and the nature
of Israeli actions -- and these are the focus of this article.
Words are very important. Words frame issues, palliate, mollify, exculpate
or even hide sordid acts. Words like "disengagement", "viable
state", "barrier or fence", etc., alter our understanding of
the Palestinian condition under the unrelenting ethnic cleansing that has been
the norm during the past decades. Invariably western media and its coterie of
"analysts" use propaganda-tainted words when referring to Israeli
actions and the Palestinian condition. The list below analyses a few of the
prevalent words that hide or exculpate the dispossession of millions .
|Abused terms or curious new terminology
||"Honest broker" -- all over again
The Israelis refuse to engage in any negotiations with the Palestinians;
all the "disengagement" measures were imposed unilaterally.
However, the semblance of negotiations is necessary and the US has adopted
the role of arbitrator. The US seeks to create the appearance that negotiations
are taking place even though the Israelis refuse to have face-to-face
talks. The US has taken on this role despite the fact that it funds Israel
to the tune of billions of dollars, shields them diplomatically from international
censure, and so on. Usually a mediator is a neutral party without a conflict
of interest. Never mind, for propaganda purposes the US still can be called
"honest broker" or "arbitrator".
||Traffic lights favoring Jews
"... a B'Tselem researcher from the Shuafat refugee camp, cites
the existence of a relatively new term in the lexicon of discrimination
in the eastern part of the capital, "Apartheid traffic lights."
There are almost no traffic lights in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.
Stoplights exist mainly in those rare locations where there is Jewish
traffic. In these cases, for example the stoplights north of the French
Hill intersection, the time allotted to Arab traffic from the direction
of Shuafat is much less than the time allotted to cars coming from the
Jewish neighborhood. As a result, during many hours of the day there are
long lines of vehicles waiting at the intersection on the "Arab"
||Desire for a goodwill response to Israeli unilaterally imposed
In mid-2005, when the Israelis unilaterally imposed measures in what
came to be known as the disengagement, the Israelis and their apologists
expressed a desire for Palestinian "concessions" in response
to Israeli "goodwill". Their assumption is that Israeli actions
are permeated with goodwill towards the Palestinians -- surely the first
case of ethnic cleansers demonstrating goodwill towards their victims.
There are numerous counter-examples demonstrating sheer Israeli mean-spiritedness
towards Palestinians. It is instructive to read about the recent negotiations
surrounding the border crossings between Gaza and Egypt, or the transport
link between Gaza and the West Bank. In Gideon Levy's words: "Anyone
reviewing these press accounts will discover the main components characterizing
Israel's behavior toward the Palestinians -- the evasiveness, the lack
of a modicum of goodwill and the failure to honor agreements" .
||Suppressing the resistance; alternative to peace
Israel is imposing a "solution" on the Palestinians, and this
is called the "disengagement". Since there are no negotiations,
there is no reason why the Palestinians should accept the outcome and
some may decide to pursue the armed struggle. "Conflict management"
talks are discussions with Palestinian collaborators to suppress the armed
resistance. (q.v. peace)
Mainstream journalists are incapable of suggesting that building colonial
settlements is illegal. The euphemism of choice is "controversial".
Of course, later on they will suggest that it is "not reasonable"
to remove the colonial settlement -- it was merely controversial, not
illegal or unethical . (q.v. it is not reasonable)
||Occupation by other means and an intensification of ethnic cleansing
The so-called disengagement was the imposition of a series of unilateral
measures that led to the redeployment of Israeli forces in Gaza, limited
removal of the settlement colonies, and an acceleration of the dispossession
and ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and Jerusalem. While the propagandists
sought to emphasize the pullout from Gaza, it is clear that they sought
to hide the sordid developments in the West Bank, or the implications
for the Gazan population of the Israeli control from the perimeter of
||Retail ethnic cleansing
Jerusalem city officials recently revealed a new master plan for the
"The plan involves thinning out the population in all quarters of
the Old City, except the only one restored so far -- the Jewish Quarter
-- as a means of slowing down the rapid population growth" .
||Repression on the Palestinian reservations
The only role accorded by the Israelis to Palestinian Authority is for
"internal security", i.e., repressing its own people. Israel
would dearly like to see the PA repress all the armed groups, and "dismantle
the terrorist infrastructure."
||Conceded theft (proper theft)
"Israel proper" is a propaganda term for Israeli land over
which there cannot be negotiations -- this land was stolen, but now it
should be considered to be "Israeli" without referring to its
dubious origins. All of Israel was established on land stolen from the
native Palestinian population, and the implication of "proper"
is that the land has now been granted to Israel by whoever uses this term.
The implication also is that one shouldn't discuss the 1948 ethnic cleansing
and the mass dispossession of the native population. The fact that this
term concedes most of the land stolen in 1948 is part of the problem:
it views the conflict only in terms of the 1967 conquest to the exclusion
of the land and rights of the Palestinian refugees and those who managed
to remain in what is now Israel.
Furthermore, since Israel doesn't have defined borders it follows "Israel
proper" has no defined borders either. The demarcation of UN resolution
181 should have been a border for Israel, but until recently the Green
Line demarcated "Israel proper", and slowly the wall will be
considered the border of Israel "proper"; that is, until Israel
decides to annex yet more land to incorporate one of its colonies in the
West Bank or to appropriate another section of Jerusalem. And, of course,
one should not forget that "Israel proper" also includes land
stolen from Syria in 1967. The meaning of "proper" is constantly
The "proper" designation seems to apply only to Israel, and
there isn't another country with border or land disputes which is referred
to in the same manner. For example, there isn't a term "Britain proper",
although it has an illegitimate claim over some islands, Gibraltar...
Or the US with a dubious claim over Guantanamo, Diego Garcia (although
it was the British who ethnically cleansed the islands for the US), Puerto
|It is not reasonable to expect the settlers to be removed...
||The thieves cannot be evicted
If removing 8,000 settlers from Gaza created such a ruckus, then "it
is not reasonable" to expect to remove the settlers from the West
Bank or East Jerusalem. Even though the colonial settlements are illegal
under international law, and their construction was rightly seen as a
means of precluding a peaceful negotiated settlement, the Israelis and
their apologists aim to portray the settlements in the West Bank as permanent
and beyond contention -- soon they will be considered part of "Israel
"Even before the current intifada, in Hebron in 1996, an Israeli
settler fatally pistol-whipped 11-year-old Hilmi Shusha. An Israeli judge
first acquitted the murderer, saying the child "died on his own as
a result of emotional pressure." After numerous appeals and under
pressure from the Supreme Court, which termed the act "light killing",
the judge reconsidered and, as the Aqsa Intifada was raging, sentenced
the killer to six months, community service and a fine of a few thousand
dollars. The boy's father accused the court of issuing a "license
to kill." Gideon Levy of Ha’aretz eloquently described the
fine as the "end-of-the-season clearance price on children's lives,"
referring to the findings of B'tselem, Israel's leading human rights organization,
which documented dozens of similar cases in which perpetrators were either
acquitted or received a slap on the wrist." 
|Look forward and find innovative solutions
||Ignore history and avoid references to justice
At a recent Harvard Univ. lecture, Shimon Peres stated that: "we
should look forward and find innovative solutions." This was deemed
to be such a sagely remark that it was used as a preface to the Dershowitz
vs. Chomsky Harvard Univ. debate on 29 Nov. 2005.
What Peres is suggesting is that the history of the conflict be ignored,
and that proposed solutions shouldn't address the injustice perpetrated
in the past, i.e., ruling out restitution, compensation. The Rand Corporation's
recent plans are "innovative solutions": railroads, tunnels,
bridges, high tech checkpoints -- preferably paid for by the US or the
EU. All of these don't address the need to rectify the injustice of the
1948 and 1967 phases of the ethnic cleansing and the incessant house demolitions.
Restitution is necessary, but Peres will not consider it an "innovative
Of course some history is more equal than others; when it comes to WWII,
then one should never forget history, and always seek restitution for
former Jewish property. When it comes to the 1948 ethnic cleansing of
Palestinians, then this chapter should be ignored -- one should only "look
forward" -- and there should be no suggestion of restitution. However,
it is up to the victims of a conflict to declare "let bygones be
bygones" or to forsake their claim to restitution; it is certainly
not up to Shimon Peres, a representative of the ethnic cleansers, to say
A few years ago Israeli water management experts met their Palestinian
counterparts to agree on managing water resources. Some agreements were
obtained, but later the Palestinians discovered that the Israelis would
be pumping more water than agreed (Israelis installed a 40 inch pipe,
far larger than that stipulated in the "agreements"). Palestinians
also found that they would have to purchase most of their water from the
Israeli water companies instead of pumping it themselves .
Furthermore, Palestinians found that future increases in water demand
would have to be met from "new sources", i.e., buying it from
Israeli desalination plants -- while at the same time Israelis will pump
more water from the West Bank aquifer.
Natural gas fields off the coast of Gaza are "managed" by an
Israeli company, and no revenue from this resource is forthcoming to the
de jure owners of the resource. Under the Geneva conventions, an occupying
power is not allowed to exploit natural resources belonging to the occupied
territories unless the occupied population consents.
||Moderate war criminal
Now that Ariel Sharon has decided to split away from the Likud party,
commentators often state that his new party will be "centrist",
and that Sharon should be viewed as a "moderate". A bit of context
may be useful: Ariel Sharon is a mass criminal who should be tried in
front of a Nuremberg-style tribunal. His sordid history has left a trail
of blood and destruction. And now we should view him as a "moderate"?
Yeah, he ain't Pol Pot.
||Nearer to you
AIPAC, the principal pro-Israeli political action committee in the US,
created a pro-Israel think tank with this curious name: Washington Institute
for Near East Policy. One wonders why it wasn't named the "W.I. for
Israeli Affairs". Reason: Israel doesn't want to be seen as part
of the Middle East, and prefers to be seen as part of the "near"
East. That is, nearer to Europe.
||If it is yours, we negotiate
Israelis have an attitude that if there is a land or resource dispute,
then they are willing to negotiate as long as they are putatively under
control of the other party. However, when the land or resource is within
"Israel proper" then no negotiations should be countenanced.
(q.v. managing resources, and Israel proper)
Any right to which the Palestinians aspire is a bargaining chip. The
right to travel, travel documents, communications between the West Bank
and Gaza, allocation of fisheries, etc., all are bargaining chips used
by Israel to get more concessions, especially on "security".
Negotiations don't deal with anything substantial, but with basic rights
that "westerners" would take for granted.
||Criticism of Israel
Consider that Israel is currently ethnically cleansing large areas of
the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is implementing draconian measures
against the remaining Palestinian population with the intent of forcing
them to emigrate. Yet, when one criticizes these actions, or let alone
condemns them, then one is accused in turn of "anti-semitism"!
The claims of "new anti-semitism" are a smokescreen to deflect
attention away from sordid Israeli deeds.
||Demarcation for a new colony
"An Israeli structure (civilian or military) beyond the 1949 Armistice
Line that did not get official recognition by the Israeli government.
More often than not, these outposts have the tacit approval of the Israeli
government and are the precursors to new colonies. Israeli governments
usually delay their recognition of those outposts for political considerations."
(NB: The Israeli pronunciation of this word is closer to "piss").
|Yep, a dirty word
Arnon Soffer is one of Israel's
Dr. Strangeloves, and the "father of the wall". Consider what
he thinks of "peace":
Question: What will the end result of all this killing
Arnon Soffer: The Palestinians will be forced to realize
that demography is no longer significant, because we're here and they're
there. And then they will begin to ask for "conflict management"
talks -- not that dirty word "peace." Peace is a word for
believers, and I have no tolerance for believers -- neither those who
wear yarmulkes nor those who pray to the God of peace .
Peace is indeed a dirty word when it is uttered without reference to
justice. Justice is a more potent concept than peace, and maybe a superior
slogan for those concerned with the Palestinian condition.
||Prison warden register book
Before the "disengagement" Israel controlled the population
register, and all Palestinian births, deaths, marriages, and change of
residence had to be reported to the Israeli authorities. After the so-called
disengagement the Palestinian Authority in Gaza is still required to report
these data despite the fact that it putatively has gained more independence
|Preserving the settlers' security
||Security for the ethnic cleansers...
"On the ground, the creation and maintenance of [the colonial settlement
of] Ariel entailed and continues to entail untold hardships to the Palestinians
who happen to live in the nearby town of Salfit and in numerous villages
a long distance all around. Palestinian inhabitants are exposed to ongoing
confiscation of their land so as to feed the land hunger of the ever-expanding
Ariel settlement, and their daily life are subjected to increasingly stringent
travel limitations in the name of 'preserving the settlers' security'."
After each suicide bombing or violent action against Israelis there are
incessant calls for a "response". The Israeli cabinet meets
to determine which act of collective punishment will be implemented. The
Israeli government uses the Palestinian population in the occupied territories
as hostages, and inflicts collective punishment as a means of "deterrence".
Israelis are always allowed to respond; this is the prerogative of the
occupier. Palestinians are never allowed to respond, that would be referred
to as "terrorism".
This is what Dr. Majeed Nassar, a doctor in Beit Sahour, has to say about
"The absolute security notion expresses Israel's narrow-minded ideology
revealed through [...] its policy and its psychological structure: [...]
The transformation of the notion of security for the Israeli citizen into
an abhorrent racism that allows Israel to imprison an entire population
by putting them under siege in an attempt to force the Palestinian resistance
movement to surrender." 
||Road to nowhere
Dov Weisglass's (Ariel Sharon's right-hand man) statement that negotiations
had been placed in formaldehyde and the subsequent US approval of the
so-called "disengagement" process put a stake through the heart
of the "road map" and rendered the Quartet arbitration group
meaningless. Even though the "road map" was clearly dead, US
State Dept. officials, the US president, and media commentators still
suggest that Palestinians should follow the "road map". That
is, Israel imposes unilateral measures, and yet some still suggest that
the Palestinians should follow a defunct "road map".
|Security barrier or fence
To give an impression that a journalist or a newspaper is "balanced"
when reporting on the wall, the term "barrier" will be used.
Pro-Israeli media will usually refer to it as a "fence".
Furthermore, "security" is the adjective often attached to
the "barrier" term, e.g., Donald MacIntyre, The Independent
journalist, always uses the joint term: "security barrier".
However, the word security in this context prejudges the purpose of the
wall, and it is an Israeli-centric interpretation of its purpose. In reality,
the wall is a means to annex more land, create miserable conditions for
the Palestinians, and to impose a boundary. Chomsky has described the
wall as a weapon, and this is a more accurate assessment of its purpose
|Removal of settlements
Israel is willing to give up some of its colonial settlements, but it
isn't willing to give up "settlement blocks". This is a crucial
distinction made by Prof. Jeff Halper, founder and director of ICAHD.
Israel seeks to keep control over the settlement blocks, i.e., a far larger
It is important to note that one of the recommendations made by military
strategists to smash the intifada was to: "carry out 'temporary'
withdrawal of Israeli settlers from exposed and strategically low value
isolated settlements..." .
||Palestinian reservation management
Danny Rubenstein, a Ha’aretz correspondent, recently stated on
a US radio program that the Palestinians should make the most of their
newly acquired "sovereignty" granted to them under the disengagement
plan. Consider that the Palestinian Authority has no control over its
borders, resources, must still supply Israel with a detailed population
register, and can't even issue travel documents...
When General Amos Yaron, the architect of the wall, was asked if the
construction of the wall was taking into account the environmental impact
on the Eastern side of the wall (the Palestinian enclave), his answer
was: "As a matter of fact, in reality we consider both sides as ours,
we are the masters. For us there is no difference between the two sides"
. So much for "sovereignty".
||The poor man's precision bomb
||Bridges and tunnels between the quartered reservations
Israel has been busy building exclusive roads between the colonial settlements
and the main Israeli population centers. These roads intentionally quarter
the West Bank into isolated enclaves to preclude the formation of a Palestinian
statelet on the West Bank. And now, to fulfill Bush's vision of a "viable"
state, there must be "transportation contiguity." This refers
to the bridges and tunnels that need to be built to connect the disjoint
It is impossible to create direct roads between the colonial settlements
and the main Israeli cities, and at the same time create a coherent transportation
network that will join the Palestinian population centers. The infrastructure
created to demolish the potential of a Palestinian state cannot coexist
with a coherent transportation infrastructure meant to unite it. Of course,
Palestinians will not be allowed to use the roads built for the colonial
settlements -- for the most part these roads are for Jews-only.
Just like a "viable erection" doesn't portend the onset of
high impact sex, a "viable state" doesn't indicate the formation
of a sovereign state or a vibrant economy. Casting further doubt on what
is meant by "a viable Palestinian state" is the fact that on
several occasions an AIPAC audience cheered the term every time president
Bush uttered it . The term "viable state"
is a codeword for a state bereft of sovereignty, a dependent economy,
and subject to further Israeli whims, e.g., veto on policies, political
candidates, control over resources, acquisition of armaments, etc. The
main function of such a state is to become a dumping ground for the Palestinian
population from areas Israel seeks to colonize.
Palestinians should consult the American Indians to determine how "viable"
their reservations are.
||The vision thing
President Bush seldom refers to his "vision", and just like
his father, derisively refers to it as the "vision thing". However
in 2002, Bush stated that he had a "vision of a Palestinian state",
and predicted that it would be established in 2005. What the transcript
of his statement doesn't capture is Bush's composure when he uttered this
statement -- chuckling before and after the statement. The establishment
of the state was later delayed because of Palestinian violence (of course!)
-- another vision postponed .
Paul de Rooij is a writer living in London. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org (NB:
all emails with attachments will be automatically deleted.)
Paul de Rooij © 2005
 The construction of the wall is barely covered, and the
consequences for those isolated by wall seem to be ignored. Some of the villages
on the Western side (seam area) of the wall have been devastated by the wall's
construction, yet a search of the internet reveals that their cases haven't
been mentioned by the major media! It is also very likely that the avian-flu
threat has been over hyped for similar reasons. Proof that the avian-flu coverage
has been used for propaganda purposes is the fact that this issue will die down
and disappear in short order. After a few weeks another "mega threat"
will be conjured up, e.g., Iranian nukes, an asteroid on a collision course
with the earth...
 For an earlier glossary of abused language see my Glossary
of Occupation, 12 September 2002. There is a more detailed description of
why it is important to understand the hidden meaning of words, and why one should
be careful with the words one uses.
 Danny Rubinstein, "The battle for the capital",
Ha'aretz, 31 March 2005. There are several other articles on the same topic;
however this summarizes it rather well.
 Gideon Levy, "The safe passage: The history of a
farce", Ha'aretz, 11 December 2005.
 See for example: Jonathan Marcus, "'Greater Jerusalem'
takes shape", BBC Online, 25 March 2005.
 Nadav Shragai, "New Jerusalem master plan seeks to
curb Old City overcrowding", Ha'aretz, 14 September 2004
 Omar Barghouti, "Executing Another Child in Rafah",
CounterPunch, 25 October 2004.
 Lecture by a Palestinian water resources expert at SOAS
 Glossary of terms compiled by ARIJ
 Arnon Soffer, interview with Ruthie Blum, " ONE
on ONE: It's the demography, stupid", The Jerusalem Post, May. 20, 2004.
 It is instructive to read Amira Hass's articles about
this issue. See her "Go study in Australia?", Ha'aretz, 14 December
 Uri Avnery, "You
brought the boycott upon yourselves: Gush Shalom letter to Bar Ilan University",
26 April 2005.
 Dr. Majeed Nassar, "Israel's Strategy of Absolute
Security", 25 February 2002 (later published in Arabic).
 Noam Chomsky, "A Wall as a Weapon", New York
Times, 23 February 2004.
 Talk by Prof. Halper at SOAS, 2004.
 Anthony Cordesman, "Israel
versus the Palestinians: The Second Intifada and Asymmetric Warfare",
 Interviewed on YourCallRadio to comment on the "disengagement"
plan. Unfortunately, the interview with Laura Flanders isn't available online
anymore -- when the radio program changed name it also ceased archiving most
of the older programs (a bit of a shame).
 The general was interviewed in Simone Bitton's film "The
 This is the transcript
of the talk in front of an AIPAC audience -- unfortunately, the audience laughter
and enthusiastic cheering is not caught in the transcript. C-SPAN may still
archive this speech, and it is worth listening to.
 This was the first
reference to his "vision".
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