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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/25/14

Words, Words, Words

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Message Uri Avnery
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Cross-posted from Gush Shalom


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IMAGINE A war breaking out between Israel and Jordan. Within two or three days the Israeli army occupies the entire territory of the Hashemite Kingdom. What will be the first act of the occupation authority?

Establish a settlement in Petra? Expropriate land near Aqaba?

No. The very first thing will be to decree that the territory will henceforth be known as "Gilead and Moab."

All the media will be ordered to use the biblical name. All government and court documents will adopt it. Except for the radical Left, nobody will mention Jordan anymore. All applications by the inhabitants will be addressed to the Military Government of Gilead and Moab.

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WHY? BECAUSE annexation starts with words.

Words convey ideas. Words implant concepts in the minds of their hearers and speakers. Once they are firmly established, everything else follows.

The writers of the Bible already knew this. They taught "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." (Proverbs 18:21). For how many years now have we been eating the fruit of "Judea and Samaria"?

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When Vladimir Putin last week restored the old name of "New Russia" to the territory of East Ukraine, it was not just a semantic change. It was a claim for annexation, more powerful than a salvo of cannon shots.

RECENTLY I listened to a speech by a left-wing politician, and was disturbed when she spoke at length about her struggle for a "political settlement" with the Palestinians.

When I remonstrated with her, she apologized. It was a slip of the tongue. She had not meant it that way.

In Israeli politics, the word "peace" has become poison. "Political settlement" is the vogue term. It is meant to say the same. But of course, it doesn't.

"Peace" means much more than the formal end of warfare. It contains elements of reconciliation, of something spiritual. In Hebrew and Arabic, Shalom/Salaam includes wellbeing, safety and serve as greetings. "Political settlement" means nothing but a document formulated by lawyers and signed by politicians.

The "Peace of Westphalia" put an end to 30 years of war and changed the life of Europe. One may wonder whether a "Political settlement of Westphalia" would have had the same effect.

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The Bible enjoins us: "Seek peace and pursue it!" (Psalms, 34:14) It does not say "Seek a political settlement and pursue it."

When the Israeli Left gives up the term Peace, this is not a tactical retreat. It is a rout. Peace is a vision, a political ideal, a religious commandment, an inspiring idea. Political Settlement is a subject for discussion.

PEACE IS not the only victim of semantic terrorism. Another is, of course, the West Bank.

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Uri Avnery Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Uri Avnery is a longtime Israeli peace activist. Since 1948 has advocated the setting up of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. In 1974, Uri Avnery was the first Israeli to establish contact with PLO leadership. In 1982 he was the first Israeli ever to meet Yassir Arafat, after crossing the lines in besieged Beirut. He served three terms in the (more...)
 

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