A Guide to the Palestinian Lexicon
by Khaled Abu Toameh
August 1, 2016
“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” — George Orwell, 1984.
What do you do if you do not like Israel, but have only one outlet for that dislike: expressing it in rhetoric and print?
Well, if you are a Palestinian, you can always come up with your own terminology — one that sheds negative light on Israel and anything that is associated with it. This is precisely the tack Palestinians have taken over the past few decades, inventing their own terms and phrases when talking about Israel.
George Orwell, of course, saw through this behavior. For him, “language can also corrupt thought.” The anti-Israel sentiments, delivered for decades by Palestinians, not only corrupt thought, but also incite people against Israel, by creating incendiary situations that are designed to burst into flames.
To be clear: this is not the familiar incitement in the Palestinian media that is discussed in international forums.
This is a different color. This incitement demonizes Israel and Jews. In this narrative, Israel is evil, as well as alien to the Middle East.
Orwell, in his wise remarks on language, did not mention the deceit of multiple tongues. But that deceit is deeply embedded in the Palestinian discourse on Israel.
Political affiliations somewhat determine which terminology is employed by Palestinians with reference to Israel. Yet across affiliations, Palestinians employ extremely negative terms to discuss Israel.
Until the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the “moderate” Fatah faction, currently headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, referred to Israel, as its Palestinian brothers do today, as the “Zionist entity.” That was before the PLO officially recognized Israel under the terms of the Oslo Accords. Back then, it was considered disgraceful and unacceptable to call Israel by its name, lest that be interpreted, God forbid, as recognition of Israel.
More than two decades later, Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Palestinian Authority (PA) still find it difficult to mention the name Israel.
Since its creation in 1994, the Palestinian Authority’s official policy (in Arabic) has been to refer to Israel as “the Other Side.” These were the instructions handed down to PA civil servants and security personnel, and they remain in effect today.