By Monessa Shapiro
When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
And so it is with the Israel – Palestine conflict. Words have taken on new meanings, far distant from their original intent. They have become tools with which to obfuscate the truth.
Hamas fired a cavalcade of well over 4000 rockets into Israel targeting her civilians, aimed at murdering as many Israeli men, women, and children as possible. A rocket every 3-4 minutes, Israelis spent days and nights huddled in bomb shelters, terrified and traumatised. A proportionate response for any country under such threat would be the destruction of the rockets and rocket launching sites, as well as the killing of those firing the rockets. But in our Humpty Dumpty, Alice in Wonderland world, “proportionate” is the new “disproportionate”. The media and much of our leadership cry: “disproportionate”. Not enough Israelis have died, all say. Israel’s actions are considered disproportionate because the number of Palestinians killed exceeds the number of Israelis. The only conflict in the world where proportionality depends on a quid pro quo of deaths. No acknowledgement that Hamas does not build bomb shelters for its citizens but uses instead all her resources to procure arms and build tunnels in order to destroy Israel. No acknowledgement that Hamas fires rockets from within the civilian population, using women and children as human shields. No acknowledgement that 680 rockets fired by Hamas fell short and landed in Gaza killing in one instance, a Palestinian family of 8, and in another two mis-firings, 3 and 2 Palestinian children respectively.
Jews have been the indigenous inhabitants of the land of Israel for over 3,000 years. King David built his city in Jerusalem. When the Roman Emperor Hadrian conquered Israel in the second century CE he renamed it ‘Palaestina’ in order to remove any links with the Jews, whom he exiled. But even during the long 2000-year exile, there remained a Jewish presence in Israel, and during that exile, Jerusalem remained the epicentre of Jewish yearning. Wherever Jews resided in the world, when in prayer three times a day, always faced towards Jerusalem and at the Passover Seder always recited:
“Next year in Jerusalem”.
Following the defeat of the Ottoman Turks in The Great War (1914-1918), Britain took control of Palestine. It was the Jews who, with the establishment of the modern State of Israel in 1948 in terms of UN Resolution 181, which divided British mandatory Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state, decolonised part of the land and returned it to its indigenous people – the Jews. Only in Humpty Dumpty’s language does an indigenous people colonise a land!
Following Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948, the Arab population numbered 156,000. In 2021 there are 1,890,000 Arabs living as free and equal citizens in the state of Israel. Yet today, in our inverse world, this exponential growth is characterised as “ethnic cleansing”. Israel’s treatment of her minority Arab population will certainly go down in the annals of history as the most unsuccessful attempt at ethnic cleansing ever. Or perhaps, in terms of the Israel-Palestine conflict, we must accept that “ethnic cleansing” just cannot have its rightful meaning. Perhaps, just perhaps it is used to merely inflame emotions and intensify hatred.
Disgraced former President Moshe Katzav was tried and found guilty of rape by an Israeli Arab judge. Mansour Abbas from the Arab party Ra’am has just become part of Israel’s new government. Moslems, Christians and Jews, blacks and whites live together freely in Israel as equal citizens. They shop together, dine together, go to the same beaches and parks, are cared for by the same doctors in the same hospitals. There are Arabs in the IDF who serve their country Israel with the same love and pride as their Jewish counterparts. Yet Israel is termed an “Apartheid state”. Apartheid was institutionalised racism. Racial laws governed every aspect of the lives of black South Africans – where they lived, married, which park bench they sat on, which school their children attended, which beach they could swim at and so on. Under Apartheid, only the white minority had the vote. And yet egregiously, Israel is termed an Apartheid state!
The Hamas Charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews.
The embracing of the words “disproportionate”, “colonisation”, “ethnic cleansing” and “Apartheid” lends legitimacy to Hamas’s nefarious call. If the media, and those who glibly use these terms, understand this, then we must accept that they are knowingly calling for the end of Israel – the one and only Jewish state in the world.
In 1940 it was the Jews who had to be exterminated; in 2021 it is the Jewish state. Draw your own conclusions.
About the writer:
Monessa Shapiro is a retired teacher and a member of the Media Team. Monessa also writes and blogs for the Times of Israel.
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