When U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, said it was a “mistake” for Israel to demand recognition as the Jewish State, it shows how deeply the language of delegitimization has been adopted by even the most ardent of Israel supporters.
Another example of this was New Jersey Governor, and potential Republican presidential candidate, Chris Christie. In front of a crowd of Jewish Republican fundraisers in Las Vegas, hosted by Sheldon Adelson, a close friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Christie said, “I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories and felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand the military risk that Israel faces every day.”
When challenged by the head of Zionist Organization of America, Morton Klein, Christie apologized, saying his remark was not meant as a statement of policy.
We increasing see well-intentioned, powerful and influential people, who have the close attention of the media, make misplaced statements that feed into the adoption of a viewpoint that Israel has no legitimate right to be where it is.
The misuse of language is an indicator not only of the general public’s views, it also displays how pro-Israel influential voices are chasing a narrative that is driven by the Palestinian side of the conflict.
One perfect example of terminology drift can be seen with the area once known as Judea and Samaria becoming “disputed territory,” then the West Bank, and now “illegally occupied Palestinian land.”
Any staunch Israeli, or dispassionate neutral, would argue that it is neither illegal, nor occupied, and certainly not Palestinian land, according to international law and binding resolutions going back as far as the League of Nations Mandate of 1922. All this has not stopped the flow of terminology becoming accepted language.
How did this state of affairs come about? Well, it boils down to two major factors;
1) A highly successful pro-Palestinian publicity campaign. 2) A dereliction of duty by consecutive Israeli governments and prime ministers. Some say the demonization and delegitimization of Israel began at the infamous 2001 UN Conference on Racism at Durban in South Africa which produced the hateful “Zionism is Racism” resolution, and gave birth to the accusations of an apartheid Israel.
However, the refusal to accept Jewish rights to an independent state was forcefully demonstrated back in 1947 when the Arab nations violently rejected UN Resolution 181 which called for recognition of a Jewish state. They unsuccessfully launched major wars against the nascent Jewish state which led them in anger, following yet another defeat in 1967, to gather in Khartoum and declare three “No’s” against Israel. No peace, no negotiations, no recognition. This was reconfirmed by the Arab League as recently as March 25, 2014, when Arab leaders again declared that they will never recognize Israel as the Jewish state. So much for the Arab Peace Initiative!
But, to go back in time, out of Egypt came Yasser Arafat to cloak himself in the mantle of Palestine. Initially, he saw himself as the spearhead of the Pan-Arabic aggression against Israel. As he said in a 1970 interview with Italian journalist Arianna Palazzi, “The question of borders doesn’t interest us. Our nation is the Arabic nation. The PLO is fighting Israel in the name of Pan-Arabism. What you call Jordan is nothing more than Palestine.”
This hatred of Israel coalesced into what is known as the Palestinian cause. By portraying Israel as a colonialist, powerful, aggressive, oppressive, racist, occupier of a poor, defenseless, weak, indigenous Palestinian people a picture is painted that, to the impressionable, inevitably leads to a negative opinion of an Israel accused of the worst examples of war crimes and human rights abuses, and a sympathy for the weak Palestinians. That is the perception today.
About the Author: Barry Shaw is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College. He is the co-founder of the Netanya Terror Victims Organization, and author of Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.
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