Watch Your Language, Ynetnews!
As we wage war against the demonization of Israel, it is important that at least Israeli newspapers and news sites stop using language that plays into the hands of our detractors. Those rallying against us call us colonizers and oppressors, occupiers of a so-called Palestinian indigenous people on the so-called West Bank of the Jordan, the area we know as Judea and Samaria. The like to write about how we seized land that isn’t ours and even The Jerusalem Post falls into the trap of using inaccurate language that perpetuates that error.
When our own papers, then, write articles using the term, West Bank, it is as if we have agreed that the geographic area known throughout history as Judea and Samaria is not part of our indigenous homeland. Yet remember: the area only became known as the West Bank after Jordan occupied it in 1948. We should have continued to use its true name during the Jordanian occupation and after we freed the area from the Jordanians.
There is absolutely no difference between Jordan calling Judea and Samaria “the West Bank” and Rome calling Israel-Judah “Palestine”. We chucked off the meaningless name “Palestine” yet we surprisingly and tenaciously hang on to the name “West Bank” as if it meant something. It does not.
Ynetnews and Ynet Help Promote Misunderstanding
Ynetnews provides English translations of articles from their Hebrew site, ynet. When I saw them referring to the West Bank in a recent article, I opened the Hebrew version to see what term they use for Hebrew speakers.
אגודת איזור יהודה ושומרון – or: The Judea and Samaria (Region) Division.
I know it is a mouthful, or an incredibly wearying typing task, to use the full term in English over and over again, and no acceptable and easily recognizable acronym has yet been found – or thought of, or even the need for one considered. Let me suggest, J&S. Perhaps you can think of something better.
Interestingly, nobody apparently has any problem with calling the Etzion Territorial Brigade or the Shimshon Battalion by their Hebrew names. I admit these are shorter, but still.
The few times the article referred to the geographic area Judea and Samaria, they called it the West Bank in the English text, and the Bank in the Hebrew text. Why are we cementing in our own collective consciousness and that of others an erroneous name that our detractors use in their arguments against us?
If WE call Judea and Samaria the West Bank, then we are passively agreeing to the argument that we are occupiers of land to which we have no connection. However, you do not have to be an observant Jew to recognize the significance of Judea and Samaria, or J&S for short, to the Jewish People, to our history and the ancient birth pangs of our nation. Even if you think we should be giving that land up in a peace deal, there is no reason not to call it by its real name.
It is one of the tools of occupation to replace indigenous place names with colonial ones. The West Bank is a colonial occupation label for the indigenous territory Judea and Samaria. Before we can engage in any peace negotiations, the facts on the ground must be accurate in order to have an even playing field. Names are important. While the rest of the world may not agree, let us at least refer to our own historical sites by their true names. Then we can argue about whether or not to give them up in exchange for peace. Only then.