but I maintain I am just firm in my views. We both have different words (and meanings) for you and for me. Same issue. We can’t negotiate effectively in a conflict without defining the terms. I need to know what you mean when you say “stubborn,” and you don’t know yet my meaning of “firm.” (Marianne and I chuckle about my heritage traits.)
So when Secretary John Kerry brings Israel and Palestine representatives together this week, everyone can argue effectively how to put the chairs around the table because those words are universally understood. And looking on, we could follow the discussions if disclosed, even to knowing where Tzipi Livni, chief Israeli negotiator, will sit.
But some terms (meanings) are so different. “Eretz Israel, the name for Palestine in the Jewish religion, had been revered throughout the centuries by generations of Jews as a place for holy pilgrimage, never as a future secular state…Zionism secularized and nationalized Judaism…claimed the Biblical territory…as the cradle of their new nationalist movement.” (Ian Pappe, Jewish Historian, “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine,” Oneworld Publications Ltd., 2006.) So the Israeli government today thinks and speaks of the entire Holy Land as “Eretz Israel,” belonging to “us.”
By contrast, that 22% portion of the Holy Land allotted to the Palestinians by universal agreement at the U.N. in 1947, became “ArabLand,” Palestine or the “West Bank” under Jordan’s jurisdiction, the nation of Jordan, the “East Bank” of the famous river. (The resolution included the Gaza strip.) With Jordan’s defeat in 1967, Israeli troops have occupied the West Bank and never left. So how do you call and think about it, part of Eretz Israel or Israeli occupied Palestine? What terms will be used by the parties and what do they mean by them?
Pappe speaks of “ethnic cleansing” of Palestine, 750,000 citizens in 1948 alone forced to leave their
homes. Many more since 1967, now displaced by 350,000 immigrant Jewish settlers in the West Bank and 200,000 in East Jerusalem. Palestinians realize and most of the world stands aghast at any practice of “ethnic cleansing.”
But “transfer” is a nicer word, first written by Leo Motzkin in 1917: “Our thought is that the colonization of Palestine has to go in two directions: Jewish settlement in Eretz Israel and the resettlement of the Arabs of Eretz Israel in areas outside the country. The transfer (emphasis mine) of so many Arabs may seem at first unacceptable economically…” Pappe, pg.7 continues, “…Nur Masalha’s Expulsion of the Palestinians (which) shows clearly how deeply rooted the concept of transfer was, and is, in Zionist political thought.” He writes, from Herzl on to the present a century later, “cleansing the land was a valid option.” Pappe explains: “Half of the indigenous people living in Palestine were driven out, half of their villages and towns were destroyed, and only very few among them ever managed to return.” (Pappe, pg. 9.) They “transferred” to refugee camps and many later emigrated.
Palestinians spoke of what we observed: Israeli soldiers with assault weapons in
Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin and at all checkpoints. The Israelis have the fourth strongest army in the world, a nuclear power with hundreds of warheads. But to them it is only a “defense force.” As in—after I expel you from your home and land, I must “defend” my takeover since you will naturally want your home back. It goes back to the “’Hagana,’ established in 1920, its name literally means ‘defense’ in Hebrew, ostensibly to indicate that its main purpose was protecting the Jewish colonies.” (Pappe, pg 16.) But it became the offensive blunderbuss that massacred whole villages and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Palestinians have never been allowed to have an army to defend against Israeli state terrorism. That brings up two other terms used so differently, “security” and “terrorism.” But that’s for another time. In the meantime, as you read or hear of the negotiations, ask yourself what the parties mean: Eretz Israel or Palestine, ethnic cleansing or transfer of people, and defending our people or carving up “the other,” a people and land with the sword.