The purpose of Newspeak was...to make all other modes of thought impossible - George Orwell (Eric Blair), 1984
In a recent message to readers of OpEdNews, Editor Rob Kall mentioned that some viewers had called him an "anti-semite" because he sympathized with the plight of the "Palestinians." In writing this article, it is not my purpose to defend Rob against that canard, since it is preposterous to call him an "anti-semite" by any definition, and since Rob needs no defense; his record of fairness, objectivity, and truth speaks for itself. Rather, as in my recently published dictionary, the purpose is to demonstrate how misuse of terminology leads to error in whatever is spoken or written on the subject because if the terminology is wrong, everything that follows will be wrong.
Some historical facts will explain that there is no such person on earth as an "anti-semite" and there never has been any such person, and that there is no such person as a "Palestinian" under any conceivable definition of that term unless you are biased and bigoted enough to accept the definition of it invented by the "Palestinian Liberation Organization" (PLO).
Origin of the term "semitic."
Thousands of years ago, in the Near East (not Middle East), people who acquired names such as Babylonians, Mesopotamians, Sumerians, etc., spoke languages closely related. Around 1800 B.C. (B.C.E.) it is probable that the common language among them was Arabic, though the evidence is scanty. Gradually, leading to and in the First Century B.C. (B.C.E.), the lingua franca or common language became Aramaic among the people inhabiting the Near East, including the ancestors of people now known as Arabs and Jews living in areas identified as Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
After studying the history of these language-related peoples, the 18th-Century German philosopher and philologist A. L. Schloezer coined the term "semitic" (the German equivalent for that term, of course). He used the term to refer to a group of languages: semitic languages. If he could come back to life, he would be astonished to find his term being transmuted into "semite" as a reference to just one segment of people who occupied the Near East: those now called "Jews," though there was no such identification of them by the name Jews until relatively recent times. Much more would Schloezer be astonished to find the term used with an "anti" in front of it so as to mean a person who is prejudiced or discriminates against or who defames and/or persecutes Jews. He would be equally astonished to find an attitude labeled "anti-semitism." He would be astonished at all of this because if any such bastardizations of the term he coined could be made applicable to any extant people, the application would have to be primarily to people identified as Arabs (although a case can be made to disparage and dispute that identification, since there is no longer an Arabia, millions referred to by that term would be more appropriately called Persians, at least in a historical context, and in reality the people so categorized are only descendants of people who once bore those identifications).
In the final analysis, Schloezer would be amazed at what has happened to the term he coined because the various bastardizations of it can only be construed as referring to semitic language speakers. He would want to know how it is possible to be "anti" toward semitic language speakers.
Modern origin of the term "Palestinian"
In the ongoing debate over whether or not there is bias or prejudice against one side or the other in the stew between inhabitants of Israel and inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the commonly used labels are "Jews" and "Palestinians." I hope I do not have to explain to anyone intelligent enough to read this article that "Jews" is a misnomer for Israelis, since somewhere between one-sixth and one-fifth of Israel's population consists of people identified as Muslim Arabs and they have seats in the Israeli parliament, and there is an ongoing debate over whether or not the majority of the residents of Israel can be called Jews in view of the fact that more than half of them either became atheists as the result of the Nazi-perpetrated Holocaust or simply do not follow any form of Judaism. I do have to explain why "Palestinian" is a misnomer, however, because the way in which that bogus term is used entails abysmal ignorance perpetuated by the mass miscommunications media.
If you look back at the history of the region that became known for a long time as Palestine, you find that the ancestors of people now identified as Jews were living there along with the ancestors of people now identified as "Palestinians" in the Second and First Centuries B.C. (B.C.E.), even though the people now called Jews could only be identified then by names such as Israelites, Judaists, or Hebrews. The terms all refer to the same general category of people. Contrary to what so many ignoramuses believe, the descendants of those people did not all evacuate the region and return only under the Zionist movement; to the contrary, they continued to live there and work the land. During the British Mandate (1920-1948) the region called Palestine consisted of land encompassed by Lebanon to the north, parts of Jordan and Syria to the east, Egypt to the south, and up to the Mediterranean Sea to the west. Hence, Israel was part of Palestine, as were areas now called the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Following the so-called Arab-Israeli war, the 1949 armistice agreements between Israel and neighboring so-called Arab states eliminated Palestine as a territory. The land previously called Palestine was divided between Israel, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. The name "Palestinians" then became defunct because that is a geographical or regional term and there was no longer any geographical or regional area to which it could be referred.
In 1988 the term "Palestinian" was revived by the PLO in a way that can only be called political. Of its own accord, without any authority or legal right to do so, the PLO proclaimed unilaterally that a "State of Palestine" existed and that it consisted of a region which the PLO identified as "Palestine." Now, here is what will or ought to grab your attention: The PLO included Israel as part of both the state and the region identified by the PLO as "Palestine."
Consequently, the development of the term "Palestinian" as a reference only to persons living within the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is historical, modern, and general quackery. If it is used a billion or a hundred billion times by the mass miscommunications media, it is then only a billion or a hundred billion times more inaccurate, false, fraudulent, biased, and charlatanical than it was when the PLO invented it. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this story is that even the Israelis, who are severely damaged perceptually by their present elimination from the term, have adopted it. I can only construe that development as one of many ways in which the Israelis have followed policies that are ill-advised and often self-destructive.
What is the big deal?
If you think that all I have said in this article amounts to mere semantics, and there is no big deal about it, consider this: When the term "Palestinians" is employed as opposite to that of Israelis, the meaning which emanates from that distinction is that the people called "Palestinians" are the rightful occupants of Palestine, and the Jews who comprise the majority of Israelis are invaders and occupiers of the region. Thus, as they have been throughout their history, Jews become the bad guys. But the fact is that Jews by one name or another have always occupied the region called Palestine, they developed barren areas that were left by the "Palestinians" in the form of a wasteland, and they have won war after war against people called Arabs, including the time when the Israeli Jews constituted a relatively undeveloped nation of a few million and they were battling the armed forces of 22 so-called Arab states consisting of several hundred million inhabitants.
To the victors go the spoils. The Israelis won. There never was any obligation upon them to allow non-Jews living in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to have their own government. Just as the U.S. gave that right back to the Japanese and the Germans after defeating them in war, so did the Israelis give the right back to the "Palestinians," albeit through deals that were brokered by the political leaders of other countries. In a meeting between the leader of the PLO and the prime minister of Israel arranged by U.S. President Bill Clinton, the Israelis offered the "Palestinians" a great deal of land for a state of their own, and had YasserArafat accepted the offer, there could have been further negotiations and, in the meantime, the Israelis would have shared their technological superiority with the "Palestinians," provided them with far more employment than the Israelis already have provided to them, and made them prosperous. Hence, the violent madness taking place today might not exist, although given the fanaticism of some of the genocidal maniacs who have formed organizations to pursue the goal of "driving the Jews into the sea," there was no guarantee of that outcome.
Once terminology is used correctly, you can begin to get at facts, truth, logic, reason, balanced viewpoints. When the terminology is wrong, everything which follows is wrong. That is the big deal. Just as you are what you eat, so are you as you speak.