The War of Words - Political Deception in the Holy Land
In the Bible, we are told of the "Sin of the Spies" - the spies who were sent by Moshe to scout out the Land of Israel, promised to them by G-d, prior to entering it. Upon the spies return, 10of the 12 spies proceeded to speak "Dibbat Ha'aretz" (Slander about the Land of Israel), as a result of which, they were able to convince the majority of the Jewish People that they were better off remaining in the wilderness, or even turning back to and returning to Egypt.
Many of the Biblical commentators ask how they were able to accomplish this; after all, this was the land that G-d Himself had promised to the Jewish People. The answer given was that spies (for reasons that I will not elaborate upon here) did not want to enter the Land of Israel. Yet, they knew that if they returned and said that the Land was a terrible place, no one would accept their report. Instead, having understood human psychology, they began their report by speaking in glowing terms about the Land of Israel, and then, in a subtle manner, they were able to weave their lies and falsehoods into their account, in order to dissuade the Jewish People from wanting to enter the Land of Israel.
As a result of this first occurrence of the use of "political language" the Jewish People were forced to wander in the wilderness for 40 years, until every member of the generation of the spies had died.
George Orwell, in his essay "Politics and the English Language" defines political language as follows:
"Political language - and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists - is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind...".
The political language that emanates from the Israeli government today fits this description perfectly, and eerily resembles what life was like in another of Orwell's more famous works, "1984".
While one can cite perhaps dozens, if not hundreds of examples of political language in Israeli society, I would like to focus on how the government and press have used seemingly innocent language to sway public opinion. (For a more comprehensive list of terms and their hidden meanings, see the Arutz 7 Lexicon). Ironically, the government and media have been so successful, that even those who oppose the plan regularly use terminology that is meant to bring about support for it while delegitimizing those who oppose it.
1) Disengagement / Evacuation of Settlements: The very name of Sharon's plan is meant to cover up the fact that this plan involves the following actions: expulsion of thousands of Jews from their homes, the destruction of 10's of Jewish communities in the Land of Israel, the destruction of synagogues and centers of Torah study, the unearthing of thousands of Jewish graves, awarding Arab terrorists for their murderous actions and whetting their appetite for more... Of course, if Sharon referred to the plan in those terms, it would be logical to expect that far fewer people would be supportive of this plan.
2) Extreme Right-Wing: In Israel today, anyone who speaks out or demonstrates against the "Disengagement" plan is described as being an extreme right-winger. Could it not be that these people have legitimate concerns over this plan, as has been expressed by many military and political leaders. It seems that there is no room for legitimate opposition.
3) Likud "Rebels": Why is it that those within the Likud party who oppose the actions of Prime Minister Sharon (and head of the Likud) are referred to as rebels? Would it not make more sense to refer to them as Likud "Loyalists", as it is they who are remaining loyal to both their party platform, as well as party promises from the past election. By referring to them as rebels, it seems as if they are the ones who are being traitorous, when it reality, it is Sharon and his followers who have betrayed the Israeli electorate.
4) "Settlers": The term settler today has implications of lawbreakers and anarchists. While their actions are almost entirely similar to the Halutzim (Jewish pioneers) of the mandate era, who are viewed as Zionist heroes, the devotion of those Jews (Israeli citizens) who have shown true devotion and dedication to the settlement of the Land of Israel are viewed, instead, as outlaws. When Jews who reside in YESHA (Judea, Samaria and Aza) are killed or wounded, they are referred to as settlers, and not as Jews or Israeli citizens - as if to imply that they have a lesser status than other Israeli citizens...
5) The West Bank / the Territories: "It is illogical to think that a bank of such a narrow brook as the Jordan should spread out over tens of kilometers, from the Allenby Bridge to Elkanah". By referring to Judea, Samaria and Aza (YESHA) as the West Bank or the Territories, the government and media are actively hiding the connection and right of the Jewish People to these lands. The term West Bank gives the implication that these lands are part of Jordan and not Israel. When places such as Chevron, Beit El, Beit Lechem are referred to as "territories" one would never be aware of any of the historical connection and right of the Jewish People to them, and as such, helps to create a willingness within society to part with them.
As I mentioned above, the list goes on and on. It is incumbent upon us not to allow the Sin of the Spies to occur once again in our generation. We must be diligent in fighting for truth and justice, and opposing those who seek to slander and delegitamize those who seek to promote a spiritual and physical connection to the Jewish People and Land of Israel.