is a powerful yet deceptive thing. It can be used
to convey someone's plight and it can also be used
to hide unpalatable sordid deeds. Nowhere are words
adulterated more for political ends than in Israel
and Palestine today. It is no secret that Israel employs
a legion of well-funded propagandists, and it also
relies on self-appointed members of the press - the
pro bono apologists, who serve the same purpose.
like the lopsided imbalance of military power, the
means to command and change language rests primarily
with pro-Israeli propagandists. Their language obfuscates
and exculpates Israel's actions against a basically
defenseless population; it perpetuates the injustices
and contributes to a continuation of Israel's occupation
and theft of more land.
make sense of the situation and to peer through the
fog, a fraction of the post-Oslo commonly abused terms
are translated in this glossary. There is a limitation
to this glossary; it discusses abused terms generally
used in the Israeli-centric discourse. Now, Israelis
don't want to talk about what they are doing to the
Palestinians, and therefore there is a tendency for
there to be NO words to describe what they do. Israel
has no interest to describe, let alone coin a term
for the Palestinian condition. Similarly, the media
discourse has no words to describe the Palestinian
condition because it has adopted an Israel-centric
point of reference. For this reason, defining terms
in a glossary is not satisfactory; it only looks at
the glaring problems, the instances where there is
a descriptive word.
without charges, trial, sometimes without legal
representation, for undefined terms. Imprisonment
usually takes place in prisons and even in a concentration
camp in the Negev desert.
of land. Israel confiscates/steals land, and to
legalize its claims it engages in "bilateral
negotiations." There have been no bilateral
negotiations about Palestinian claims pertaining
to land inside the Green line.
Israeli-only roads carving up the West Bank and
Gaza -- the concrete manifestation of the policy
to divide and rule. All Palestinian property within
an arbitrary range of the road is bulldozed, all
trees uprooted. Bypass refers to the fact that the
roads avoid Palestinian towns.
points strangulating Palestinian economic activity
by closing roads and not letting any Palestinians
pass without lengthy and often unnecessary humiliating
unequal contest. Clashes suggest that two equal
forces are slugging it out, but the Israelis happen
to have one of the most powerful armies in the world.
demarcation for the press and observers to stay
out so that they wont witness the depredations
of the occupation forces.
and curfew. Curfew is implemented for weeks on end
thereby creating an end to normal life for all innocent
suggests, at best, two equal sides, never that
the Palestinians are resisting violent oppression
with violence. --John Pilger, New Statesman,
July 1, 02.
there is a cycle and the violence is disproportionate,
but what is missing is the context. Why is there
violence at all? The standard refrain, when it
is rarely mentioned, is there is hatred
on both sides. But since Israelis are like us
(fun loving and child hugging) and we don't think
of ourselves as hate-filled, then it must be the
other side, the Arabs, who are hateful. Add the
history of persecution of Jews into the mix, and
what you have is a cycle of violence based on
Arab hatred of the Jews. Presto, we arrive at
the Israeli propaganda line. --Nabeel Abraham.
ethnocracy. During the apartheid years in South
Africa Whites also claimed to have a democracy and
were rightly ridiculed for this posturing. Israel
isnt much different, and its political system
cannot be praised or labelled democracy
due to its systematic oppression of others.
Democracy is inclusive; the Israeli political system
excludes a large portion of the population. Israel
is the only country making a distinction between
citizenship and nationality. Thus Palestinians living
in Israel have an Israeli citizenship, and an "Arab"
nationality. Democracy applies to the Jewish nationals,
not to the citizens of the state. There are Arab
members of the Knesset, but their rights are curtailed
in the Jewish state. Palestinians in the occupied
territories have zero democratic rights although
they are forced to pay some taxes to Israel - a
case of taxation without representation.
newspeak for keeping the Arabs from outnumbering
Israeli Jews." --Nabeel Abraham
or exile. The dictionary definition of deportation:
banishment of an undesirable person to their native
land. Given that Palestinians are natives, thus
legal residents, their expulsion is an imposed exile.
Furthermore, the term deportation implies that the
Israelis are just pursuing legal procedures. The
dubious nature of the appeals process and the simultaneous
demolition of the victims homes contravene
the Geneva Convention.
admonishment uttered by the US govt in response
to Israeli bombings or assassinations. By implication
a proportionate response killing
less people is acceptable. The complicating
factor of the usual Israeli actions is the press
coverage. However, proportional responses
territories. Curiously enough this term was coined
by the US govt under Clinton. Language reflects
policy preference and the nature of the US mediators.
(see honest broker)
on the ground
At best they are considered bargaining chips, at
worst they are considered immutable.
The Oslo framework stipulated negotiations dealing
with matters of substance and most important to
solve the conflict. Note these negotiations are
always in the future. Current negotiations deal
mostly with issues of interest to Israel, e.g.,
security, confiscation of more land (see bypass
for surrender. Anything that the Israelis offer
is generous, and should be accepted. The Camp David
II generous offer amounted to an offer
of a fraction of the West Bank and Gaza, no control
over borders, limited removal of settlements, and
no sovereignty, yet this was supposed to be generous.
In good faith negotiations the parties have a right
to refuse an offer without admonishment.
areas in the Israeli-occupied Arab residential
areas of the territories which are protected allegedly
for environmental reasons. A legal sleight of
hand to prevent Arab development. --Nabeel
all opposition group. An Islamic opposition group
fostered by the Israeli secret services during the
first intifada. Its purpose was to undermine the
support for the PLO. Since then it has become an
effective opposition force opposed to Arafat's sell
Anyone voicing criticism of the "peace process"
is automatically classed as a Hamas supporter. Several
leading intellectuals who objected to Arafat's shoddy
approach to negotiations earned themselves a Hamas
label by both Israelis and the Palestinian "authority".
Practice that became common during the first intifada
whereby Israeli occupation forces imprison family
members of wanted persons. Several Lebanese hostages
have languished in prison without charge, trial,
and with no prospect for release. Shaykh Ubayd has
been held for more than 13 years. They are held
even though the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon
has come to a partial end.
United States. The country supplying Israel with
most of its weapons and giving no-strings-attached
economic handouts several billion dollars
every year not counting forgiven loans.
latest euphemism, incursion, is from
the vocabulary of lies coined in Vietnam. It means
assaulting human beings with tanks and planes.
--John Pilger, New Statesman, July 1, 02.
News, Education. Describing the consequences of
occupation to its own population. The term instilling
hatred is used to describe any Palestinian
news or information, and forms the justification
to bomb Palestinian TV and radio stations, and even
target individuals linked to some schools. Also
a justification to remove accreditation of all Palestinian
Israelis find it galling to be called assassins,
thieves, and occupiers. Palestinians are not allowed
to convey their experience to others. Palestinian
existence is criminalized, and so is their voice.
Defense Forces, IDF
Forces. I D F confers some legitimacy,
but it is a misplaced respect for a fully equipped
army of occupation.
the Israeli side todays
euphemism for the occupation forces. --Azmi Bishara,
July 25, 02, Al Ahram
A curious adoption of a euphemism by both Israelis
and the Palestinian authority.
you cant refuse. "In
essence, Israel holds most of the 'cards' and its
willingness to use the population as hostages, coercing
the Palestinian leadership to accede to ever more
onerous demands." --Dr. Majed Nassar
Israeli desire to determine the outcome of negotiations
on the basis of balance of power instead of a balance
Western media cannot portray the Palestinian resistance
as military because this label obviously doesnt
apply. Instead they use militants also
conveying the impression of armed gangs, and therefore
easier to justify Israeli assassinations.
Israel is the only country in the world where torture
is legal and used routinely.
settlement expansion. Justification to continue
expanding settlements. Every time demands are made
for Israel to stop building settlements on occupied
land, its retort is that expansion of existing settlements
must continue to accommodate natural growth,
i.e., the subsidized stream of immigrant colonialists.
Many of the settlements have a large percentage
of empty housing, bringing into question the need
for further expansion.
use of a local resident as a 'human shield' is
a war crime. That was confirmed, on live television,
by a senior reserve officer, the former president
of the highest military court.
The Fourth Geneva Convention expressly forbids
the use of ´protected persons´ (as
the convention calls inhabitants of an occupied
territory) for such purpose. This practice, like
the practice of compelling Palestinian neighbors
to tour buildings suspected of being booby-trapped,
is similar to the killing of hostages in retaliation
for resistance actions
It was disclosed that this is a widely-used method,
which has even been given a regular military appellation:
'neighbor practice'. Not long ago the army promised
the Supreme Court to give up the practice [, but]
had no intention at all of fulfilling the promise."
--Ury Avnery, Palestine Chronicle, Aug. 19, 02
Israelis and their apologists insist that Gilo is
just another neighborhood of Jerusalem. The fact
is that it is built on illegally confiscated occupied
land thus a settlement.
for destruction. An excuse to demolish Palestinian
homes. Israeli buildings built without a permit
are issued with one retroactively and are spared.
No Israeli-owned home has ever been demolished for
lacking a permit. Palestinians cannot in general
obtain building permits.
attack. Military operations are given names to make
them more palatable it is a military marketing
gimmick. Any journalist referring to an attack on
refugee camps by the operations name is in
the very least not trying to be objective.
that Ariel Sharons pronunciation of this is
closer to piss process. He seldom refers
to peace as an outcome. He is always
in favor of the peace process, but not peace. Ruse
to placate world opinion. A perpetual process not
intended to reach any conclusion. A means for Israelis
to gain time and consolidate their hold on the occupied
territories by expanding the settlements. From their
viewpoint, the longer the negotiations leading to
endless haggle the better.
Occasionally, if negotiations are advancing, they
may need a timely disruption, e.g., hold an election
and it is time to start the negotiations all over
closed. Of 25 Israeli army investigations in the
past 22 months, six were closed without a result;
others have yet to be completed.
The army hardly ever opens investigations
into cases of unlawful killing, says Lior
Yavne, Btselems spokesman. The army
is basically conducting a policy of impunity.
Soldiers realize they can do anything they want
and they will not face problems. --Marie
Colvin, "Cruel death of a West Bank local
hero", Sunday Times, July 21, 02
Period of calm
aren't at the receiving end, never mind the Palestinians.
is a widespread tendency in the US media to simply
ignore or severely underplay violence when its
victims are Palestinians, while focusing intensely
on incidents when the victims are Israeli."
-- Michael Brown and Ali Abunimah, "Killings
Of Dozens Once Again Called Period Of Calm By
US Media", Electronic Intifada, Sept. 20,
Israeli pullout of occupying forces over the area
it chooses, on a timescale it determines, and only
after it obtains guarantees that the local population
will be policed to its satisfaction. No settlements
are ever dismantled, only areas where the cost of
occupation has become too high.
confiscation. Palestinian residents of Jerusalem
are often asked to show their ID papers to prove
their residency rights. Often police confiscate
the identity papers, and thereby these people lose
their right of residency. It often leads to the
families in question being split up and losing their
homes. The victims of this bureaucratic "transfer"
policy number in the thousands.
ID papers are generally not reissued - the victims
cannot prove their residency because the papers
were confiscated. Photocopies of ID papers aren't
considered valid proof to reissue documents.
selection. Political transformation that delivers
the collaborators with Israelis and Americans. Any
politician signing up to this must accept to oppress
their own population to comply with Israeli/US demands.
Arafat had signed on, but couldnt deliver.
Israeli soldier refusing to serve in the Occupied
Territories. However, they remain in the army to
receive the discriminatory benefits given to "those
serving in the army." A code term for Jewish
Imagine during the Vietnam War if an American soldier
stated that he would not go to Vietnam, but would
accept remaining in the army so that he would be
eligible for all sorts of benefits - this is called
There is a key question for the semis. If tomorrow
a group of Palestinians of Israeli nationality were
to seek to reclaim their native villages in Israel,
then where will they stand? Marching for the rights
of the dispossessed or crush their bones? Removing
cover Pretext to flatten homes, clear agricultural
fields, trees, and so on. Making a lunar landscape
out of the West Bank and Gaza.
this is the latest Israeli military spin, the
reality for Palestinians is that even restraint
by the Israeli army is enough to make their lives
miserable. The army may no longer be destroying
vast chunks of Palestinian cities, but it continues
to terrify Palestinian civilians by indiscriminate
army still sends tanks and troops into Palestinian
towns for forays of several days, as it did in
Jenin last week, or for a single night as it did
twice in the northern part of the Gaza strip.
Curfews are slapped on or lifted without notice,
making life for all Palestinians unpredictable
and humiliating. --Jonathan Steele, The
Guardian, August 9, 02.
Retaliation, or Israelis never initiate violence,
they always respond.
terror, or wholesale violence. The actions taken
as reprisals are: (1) collective punishment on targets
unrelated to the original action, and (2) totally
out of proportion to the original action. On both
accounts the actions are in contravention of the
Several times Israel has wrecked ceasefire agreements
by assassinations or deliberate actions meant to
aggravate the situation.
in your people to displace us:
regard it as morally wrong that this legal entitlement
should be bestowed on us while the very people
who should have most right to a genuine return,
having been forced or terrorised into fleeing,
are excluded. --letter by British Jews renouncing
their right of return, The Guardian,
Aug. 8, 02.
The right of return requires a determination
to drive out the native population it is
all in the name of creating lebensraum. (see transfer)
Palestinians throw stones at soldiers in tanks and
armored vehicles it is a symbol of defiance
security. Demand that the occupiers not be attacked,
and that the violence not spill over into Israel
proper. Security always refers to the safety of
Israelis, it never refers to Palestinian concerns.
stolen land. Jews-only garrison villages built on
violently confiscated Palestinian land. The purpose
of the settlements is to make a permanent claim
to the land, and impede the formation of a Palestinian
State. These garrison villages always appear on
Israeli maps, whereas the Palestinian villages whose
land was confiscated for the same settlements disappear
from the maps. Strongholds, nests of terror Refugee
camps, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians,
mostly refugees from villages conquered by Israelis.
Suspicion Grounds for imprisonment or assassination.
say nothing of many thousands of suspects
rounded-up and still imprisoned by Israeli soldiers
--Edward Said, Punishment by Detail, Aug. 8, 02.
where a military commander plays the role of judge,
jury, and executioner. It lists as a war crime under
the Geneva Conventions where the occupier has a
duty towards the captive population.
asks whether all these people killed were in fact
terrorists, or proved to be terrorists, or were
about to become terrorists. --Edward Said,
Punishment by Detail, Aug. 8, 02.
euphemism for poison gas. Despite the clear warnings
on the canisters that they should not be used in
confined areas, this is where much of the gas is
actually thrown. The occupation forces impose curfews
and then whole neighborhoods are tear-gassed. Medical
personnel have repeatedly requested a list of the
active agents in the gases, but so far, neither
the manufacturer, Federal Laboratories of Pennsylvania,
nor the Israeli authorities have replied. The only
response has been to remove from the canisters the
unheeded warning and the Federal Laboratories logo.
A new brown colored gas has also appeared on the
to it induces vomiting.
would not hesitate to state that the spraying
of CS from the air - which is an action entirely
impossible to control - and the imposition of
a curfew after its wide use, should be thought
of as a war crime." --
Prof. Israel Shahak, AIC, Jan. 5, 1991
violence, resistance. An oppressed population has
a right to resist and use violence when there is
no alternative. Its violence is labeled terrorism,
and judged to be illegitimate. Israeli violence
is always found to have redeeming characteristics.
euphemism for replacing Arabs by Jews, reminiscent
of some uses of urban planning in the
United States. --Noam Chomsky in The New Intifada.
obscene euphemism for ethnic cleansing (which is
itself a euphemism).
of Israeli forces' depredations. Reports are only
confirmed when either Israelis say so or when Western
journalists report them. Palestinian accounts of
events dont count to substantiate a report,
and at best are ascribed the alleged
article also appears in Counterpunch
and is carried here with the permission of the author.
Index: Current Articles + Latest News and Views + Book Reviews +
Letters + Archives