Jan. 5, 2018
- Defining “Occupied” and the Semantic Battle for Peace – Jonathan S. Tobin
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman reportedly asked the State Department to stop using the term “occupied territories” when referring to the West Bank. Use of such words is part of a high-stakes battle to determine the outcome of the debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Friedman is correct that using the term “occupied” isn’t neutral. It backs up the Palestinian narrative that Israelis are alien colonists in territories where only Arabs should have rights. Israel’s position is that the ultimate disposition of the West Bank is a matter of dispute in which both sides have a legitimate argument.
“West Bank” is itself geographic nonsense. It is a relic of the illegal Jordanian occupation of this area as well as the Old City of Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967. At that time, the Hashemite kingdom had two “banks,” with an East – the area currently known as Jordan – as well as the West, which was taken by Israel during the Six-Day War.
After the last 25 years, during which Israel repeatedly traded land and got more terror instead of peace, a cross-party consensus now exists that deems further withdrawals foolhardy until the Palestinians give up a political culture rooted in hatred and rejectionism.
When push comes to shove, even Palestinian moderates still think of all of Israel, and not just the West Bank and Jerusalem, as “occupied” territory. As long as they think all land under Jewish control on either side of the 1967 lines is occupied, peace will remain a purely academic concept no matter which words are used. (JNS.org)