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5 Terms to Avoid When Speaking About Palestine

Every time we read news and/or analyses about the status quo in Palestine, we encounter countless subtle connotations and biased implications that are hard to be detected unless you read between the lines. And it goes without saying that, unfortunately, we unconsciously use these terms from time to time.

Foremost is, such misleading terms, used by mainstream media and our communities, serve the revisionist Zionist ideology, and shift the narrative to one that delegitimizes the existence of Palestine altogether. 

Here are the five misleading terms and what to replace them with.

1. conflict

So far, this term is one of the most commonly used terms when referring to the status quo between Israel and Palestine. 

The problem with that term is that it establishes an idea that we have kind of a clash between parties to the conflict when what we actually have in this political scene is not parties to the conflict; it’s an imposed Israeli occupation — which is unilateral. In other words, if it were a conflict between two equal parties, then the parties to the conflict would be expected to play offense. In an occupation, however, one party, the occupation forces, plays offense, whereas the other party, the one being occupied, plays defense. The difference underlying both of them is that the role of the former is to initiate attacks, while the role of the latter is to ward off those attacks. 

Instead of calling the status quo between Palestine and Israel “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” it’s better to name it by what it is: “the Israeli occupation of Palestine,” and/or, in other contexts, the term “Israeli hostilities” can also be used.

2. Two-State Solution

As noble as it sounds, the idea of establishing a two-state solution where both Palestinians and Israelis can peacefully co-exist together is not what Israel is trying to implement on the ground. The term “two-state solution” is common within the mainstream media that are preaching unrealistic utopian possibilities. However, on a closer look at what the solution itself is when implemented on the ground, we can notice that it has become a euphemism for the gradual segregation/partition of Palestinian territories.

Not only does the map above mention the shrinking of Palestinian territories, but also the deliberate shattering of Palestinian territories that serves to prevent Palestinians from being united within one geographical region — which eliminates any and all possibilities of establishing robust sovereignty for the Palestinians through which they can practice their right to self-determination.

3. Annexation/Expansion

This one is related to the “Two-State Solution,” in the sense that the Israeli annexations and/or expansions have been part of the regime of shattering the Palestinian territories. What these euphemisms do in particular is that they legitimize the Israeli settlers’ practice of occupying more Palestinian territories, and undermine the gravity of the losses that the Palestinians have to suffer because of that practice.

Therefore, when addressing the concepts of the “Two-State Solution,” “annexation,” and/or “expansion,” our minds have to immediately alter these euphemisms to what they really are: segregation, colonized apartheid, partitioning, and stealing of land.

4. Eviction

Whenever Palestinians are being illegally kicked out of their own houses and/or apartments, the media will immediately call that an “eviction.” It’s quite problematic because, within legal contexts, evictions are done by landlords when the tenant does not meet any of the requirements of the landlord — which is never the case here when we talk about what’s happening to Palestinians.

What Israel does to Palestinians is that it displaces them and forces them out of their homes for no reason other than to hand them over to Israelis to seize these homes for themselves. Therefore, eviction in this context can be accurately described as “displacement.”

5. Israeli Defense Forces (IDF)

Again, this is related to the idea of defensive and offensive approaches discussed earlier. To say “Israeli Defense Forces” is to legitimize these forces, when in reality these forces are occupation forces. Therefore, we should be naming it by what it actually is: “Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF).”

Journalism has become a means of manipulating, projecting, and victim playing on a daily basis, and if we aren’t cautious, we might end up falling into their trap.

It’s essential that next time when you come across a piece of news, you don’t just read, but also try to see what lies deep down there between the lines and dissect implications from how the information ahead of you is presented.

We read the news every day and what we read does shape our perceptions of how we view the world, and those perceptions of ours, if misguided, can lead us to eliminate the voices of the oppressed and amplify those of the oppressors.