In wartime, words are weapons; we have seen how Israelis and Palestinians are highly sensitive to connotations in their conflict. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon preferred to refer to land in dispute west of the Jordan River by biblical names: Judea and Samaria, evoking Hebrew origins; Israeli diplomats long tried "administered territories." Palestinians call it the West Bank and have won that terminological battle.
On another word-war front, the construction within the West Bank to protect Israelis from rocket attacks and penetration by suicide bombers is called "the wall" by Palestinians intending to evoke memories of the cold war's hated Berlin Wall. Israelis counter by calling it "the fence," a less onerous and more familiar description of a line of separation, recalling to Americans the Robert Frost poetic line "Good fences make good neighbors." (In fact, it is both fence and wall, depending on the place.) After perusal of thesauri, the Bush administration adopted the undeniably accurate word barrier, which has been accepted as neutral by much of the news media and stirs no objection by Israel.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
More on Terminology
No sooner than I finished posting the last bit of my thinking, I find this at William Safire's column:-