Preface: What’s Going On and Why It’s Not New
There’s an op-ed in this morning’s Sunday Philadelphia Inquirer. “At Holy Site,Centuries of Co-Existence.” (Inq, Sun,4/30/17, C5). The precarious Holy Land co-existence of which it writes is not one between Arabs and Jews, or even Muslims and Christians, but between the long-feuding Christian sects sharing the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
The op-ed says, among other things, that one “ingenious” peace-keeping solution has been the entrusting, many centuries ago, of the keys to the Holy Sepulchre church to two Muslim families. “The rationale, as the clergy explain it, is quite simple. As Muslims, these two families are sure to never seek rights to the church,” and by opening and closing the doors each day prevent the “explosion that would ensue” if one of the Christian sects tried to lock out the others.
However that may be, it is a different historical event concerning the Holy Sepulchre Church, one that haunts me as being eerily relevant a millennium later, that I’d already planned to cite in commencing this week’s media watch.
Some years ago, in researching the book that I wrote on the Jewish people’s continuous three-millennia homeland presence in Israel, I learned of a particularly vigorous early tenth century Muslim campaign against holy land Christians and Jews. Citing historians Dinur, DeHaas, Parkes and Tal, I wrote in my book:
“The worst Fatimid time for Jews and Christians was under Caliph El Hakem, 996-1021. In 1010, the Holy Sepulchre church was destroyed. ‘Churches were everywhere wrecked and plundered, or converted into mosques. The synagogues in Kjah, Ramleh and other places, were dealt with in a like manner.’”
What haunts me as still relevant is this appendage I quoted by Parkes: “The story circulated in the West that it was at the instigation of the Jews that al-Hakim had given the order [to destroy the Holy Sepulchre church], and widespread massacres and forced baptisms were the result.”
Today, “the Palestinians” and their Arab allies are waging in the United Nations a war of delegitimization against the Jewish homeland of Israel. The next round is scheduled at UNESCO for Tuesday. Jewish holy place names and connections are being supplanted with Muslim names and claimed exclusive Muslim connections, and the Christian West, when not affirmatively joining in this destruction of a heritage that is part of its own, is averting its eyes. It’s a 1010 Western reaction to Muslim destruction of the Holy Sepulchre church – taking it out on the Jews – all over again.
I cite this to stress the importance of grassroots diaspora Jews doing what is in both our purview and power to do to contest this delegitimization campaign, suggested below. But first I make this prediction: When the keys to the last cathedral in Europe are handed over to a Muslim to be turned into a mosque, the Christian handing them over will say, “You know, this is all the fault of the Jews.” And the Muslim, pocketing the keys, will smile and reply, “Yep, you’re right.”
Now Then, What’s in Our Purview and Power to Deal With It
The focus of this weekly media watch, now in its seventeenth year, is not so much imbalanced media presentation to readers of the particular facts in particular Israel news stories, but the imbalanced language in which mainstream media Israel news stories are told.
We’ve been compiling and organizing a list of pet mainstream media Israel reporting expressions. We listed a preview some weeks ago. We’re still working on it. The current concept consists of two docs – a short almost checklist of the expressions, with terse explanations, and a longer, identically organized, document with historical context, international law documentation and media reporting examples. We’re currently focusing on a draft of the short Dirty Words list.
The draft starts with this introduction:
What you will see here is not a random collection of innocently inaccurate expressions in Arab-Israeli conflict reporting, but a consistently slanted-against-Israel loaded lexicon of poisoned pejoratives aimed at delegitimizing the historic Jewish homeland of Israel.
What we want grassroots Jewish and Christian supporters of the Jewish homeland of Israel to do with this list when we release it is three things: stop using those of the dirty words that you unthinkingly do, because they’re so much in common speech; lean on advocates for Israel who use Jewish homeland delegitimizing pejoratives to cease; and lean on the media to stop parroting Jewish homeland delegitimizing pejoratives and replace them with non-slanted terms.
Look at this list of mainstream media pet Israel reporting expressions [sans the brief explanations which will appear in the final Dirty Words list], and ask yourself are these random inaccuracies, cutting in no particular direction, or deliberately crafted pejoratives purveying a consistent theme of Jewish homeland deligitimization.
Perhaps the poison injected into some of the following pet media expressions is not apparent without the DirtyWords list’s appended explanations, omitted here, but I think they’ll be clear to regular readers of this media watch.
[A] Re Israel’s 1948 War of Independence and Its Aftermath
* “In 1947, the U.N. Sought To Partition Palestine into“Palestinian” and Jewish States
* “1948 Creation of Israel, 1948 Founding of Israel”
* “Israel was Created Because of the Holocaust”
* “The ‘Nakba’ [‘Catastrophe’] of Israel’s Creation”
* “The War that Followed Israel’s Creation”
* “Palestinian Refugees of the War that Followed Israel’s Creation”
* “The Palestinian Refugee Issue”
* “Palestinian Refugee Camp”
* “Millions of Palestinian Refugees and Their Descendants”
[B] Re the 1967 War and Its Aftermath
* “Captured by Israel in 1967, Seized by Israel in 1967”
* “Israel’s 1967 Borders”
* “OccupiedTerritories, Palestinian Territories, Occupied Palestinian Territories”
* “The West Bank”
* “Judea and Samaria, the Biblical Name for The West Bank”
* “East Jerusalem, traditionally Arab East Jerusalem, Arab East Jerusalem, Israeli-Occupied East Jerusalem”
* “Settlements, East Jerusalem Jewish Settlements, West Bank Jewish Settlements”
[C] Re “The Peace Process”
* “Israel’s 1967 Borders as the Basis for ‘The Two-State Solution’”
* “The Palestinians Accept and Israel Rejects ‘The Two-State Solution’”
* “Israel’s Demand for Recognition as a ‘Jewish State’ is a New ‘Stumbling Block’”
* “Right of Return”
[D] Re Ongoing Conflict and Terrorism
* “Rockets Fired at Israel, into Israel”
* “Attacks and Actions on Israel’s Borders/Periphery”
* “IDF ‘Retaliation’ for Arab Attacks on Civilians”
* “Suicide Bombers and Militants”
* “Suspected Militants”
* “Hamas [or its like] is ‘Considered’ a Terrorist Group”
* “Israeli ‘Said’ the Term ‘Militants’”
* “The ‘Roadmap’ Called on the Palestinian Authority to ‘Rein-in Militants’”
[E] Re Whose Land is This, Anyway?
* “Palestine’s Arabs are ‘The Palestinians’”
* “The Zionist Entity, the Colonial Zionist Entity, the Because-of-the-Holocaust Entity”
* “Israel Is a European Colonial Zionist Entity With “No Place In The Islamic Middle East”
* “Ultra-Nationalists’ Greater Israel”
* “al-Aqsa Mosque Compound” and Arabic Names for Rachel’s Tomb and Patriarchs’ Cave
* Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) is merely an economic, civil form of protest
* Israel is an “apartheid state.”