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CAPITAL E: One of the things that I am most interested in within Israeli-Palestinian discourse is how prevalent language influences our ways of thinking on the subject. For example, I gave up on the usage of “West Bank” when I learned that the term was invented by the Jordanians in the middle of the last century.

Those of us who care about the Jewish people, and therefore care about the Jewish state, need to be much more cognizant of how the language that we use predetermines conclusions. If speaking of the “Occupation” with a capital “O” condemns the Jews of the Middle East before the conversation even gets started, and if so much of the language that we use was created by those who hate the Jewish presence in the Middle East, then why should we use that language?

There is no such place as East Jerusalem. There is the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, like every other city on the planet, has an eastern part and a western part and a northern part and a southern part. But the eastern part of the city, which is to say, the Old City and adjacent neighborhoods, is not a separate and distinct entity. That being the case, why is it that I constantly see the term “East Jerusalem” in the western press?

I would suggest to you that it is due to the common notion that “East Jerusalem” is “Arab East Jerusalem” and, therefore, the Jews have no real claim on the foundational city of the Jewish people where we have had a presence for over 3,500 years. Just as calling Judea and Samaria “the West Bank” tends to erase the fact that it is historically Jewish land dating back millenia before Arabs turned up as conquerors, so referring to the Old City and adjacent neighborhoods as “East Jerusalem” tends to suggest that it is separate from the rest of the city, which it is not.

western wallThis being the case, I would very much recommend deleting that usage. If you care about the well-being of the Jewish people you should not use terminology that automatically puts us back on our heals. If you understand that we have been subject to 14 centuries of ongoing Arab-Muslim persecution in that part of the world, and that they portray our self-defense to that persecution as their oppression, then we must not use the language of our enemies to describe our own circumstance.

Doing so not only misrepresents Jewish history in the Middle East, but helps continue Jewish persecution there.

Author: Mike L.

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