Manipulating Language in the War Against Palestinians

Words are definitely more powerful than the sword in many situations. All that needs to be mentioned is “terrorist” or “terrorism,” and the programmed response will come — if the groundwork for brainwashing and indoctrinating public opinion has been well prepared; the opposition is now on the offensive with the audience’s ears closed to any appeal to reason.

A perfect example of this is the careful preparations the Israelis have made long before Sept. 11 of chanting “terrorist,” referring to any and all that are not with them. Similar to President Bush’s “with us or against us” mantra.

Already by the turn of the century the Israelis had planted this slogan, and when most Americans and many others people hear that word; they are already on the side of the Israelis.

The Americans have become Pavlov’s dogs. After all who wants to side with “terrorists”?

Of course the fallback position of the Israeli government is that (“if you are not with us, you are an anti-Semite”). So far this has been a winning combination for the supporters of Israel.

Extending this logic, all those who condemn France should be labeled as anti-Catholic. To criticize Pakistan would automatically make the accuser anti-Muslim, if we adopt the Israeli-American method of thinking.

When Israel attacked Lebanon in 1978 and 1982, this was praised as “daring,” as all other Israeli military expeditions have been. If Palestinian or Arab military units move militarily, such as Egypt did in 1973, it is a “sneak attack.” When a Palestinian group fights for its survival through a military action, much of the West calls the action “Iranian or Syrian-backed” or sponsored.

Israeli actions are conveniently portrayed as “heroic.”

American support for Israel through dollars or lethal military equipment (some of which are only to be used for defensive purposes), are conveniently deleted from the reports. No mention of “American-backed” incursions. When Israelis commandeer aircraft or ships on the high seas in international waters, it is just a “diversion.” When any nation other than Israel or the United States partakes in similar actions, the word “terrorism” or the new American word “thugs” is trotted out.

A humorous aspect of the selective use of the English language revolves around the notion of incarceration.

If an American is unjustly arrested abroad he is said to be “imprisoned.” America has no prisoners in Guantanamo Bay or in other places around the world; we just have “detainees.”

Same with the Israelis.

Israel had a “security zone” in Lebanon and continues to have “security zones,” throughout their “occupied” territories. Who would dare call them occupation zones?

In Afghanistan those who were resisting the Soviet occupation were “freedom fighters.” They soon became “terrorists,” when the United States received some “blowback” from their failed policy, when the guns were turned on the suppliers. I do not think we minded a “jihad” against the Soviet occupiers, but we now interpret “jihad” as something that is directed against the US and Israel. When Israeli soldiers take into custody soldiers or civilians (they usually take civilians and call them soldiers to elicit sympathy), this act is defined as “capturing.” Should Israeli soldiers fall into opposition hands they are termed “kidnapped.”

When these innocent civilians happen to die in Israeli custody, it is merely a “mishap.” Israeli deaths in Arab custody is of course “murder.”

The downing of the Pan American plane over Scotland in 1988 was certainly terrorism. The Afghan freedom fighters downed a Soviet plane in 1985 carrying civilians; it was a heroic act as opposed to a terrorist action.

The Kahanists or other fundamentalists in Israel are simply “misguided,” perhaps they are called “fanatical.” At worst they are “extremists.” The manipulation of language has been successful so far. Among the vast majority of the American people, legitimacy has been bestowed on the Israeli occupiers. Their brutal acts are now softened and justified through the subtle brainwashing of the American population. The murder of Khalil Wazzir, PLO second in command in Tunis in April, 1988 was definitely Israeli terrorism. But the United States did not see this extra-judicial killing in this way.

We should understand that when you throw around the word “terrorism” in the Middle East, it is similar to using a weapon. If you use the word against only one belligerent side, you are seen as not being neutral.

Now you become a combatant for one side and are part of the problem instead of being impartial. Will the United States ever learn this simple axiom?

— Preston Taran who lives in New York has been an activist and strong supporter of the Palestinian cause for many years.