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verbiage and Middle East coverage

See for example, this article.

The word "settler," like the word "occupied," is clearly meant to minimize, or deny outright, any claim by Israelis to certain territories. Instead of making their listeners aware of the history of this area, including the history of the Jews under Muslim rule (Arab or Ottoman), instead of making people aware of the "ruin and desolation" into which the area known to Western Christendom (but not the Muslims) as Palestine or the Holy Land (and which continued naturally to be called Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel, by Jews), instead of discussing why the League of Nations felt it only just that, after the Ottoman Empire collapsed, to create a mandate system that would lead to the creation of an "Arab state," a "Jewish state, an "Armenian state," and a "Kurdish state," and that the Arabs managed to acquire, in the end, 20 such states and with them the source of the greatest unearned wealth in human history, the Jews managed to acquire, entirely by their own efforts but not soon enough to rescue co-religionists who might have been saved in Europe, and fashioned their state without any help, and significant opposition from , the local British who instead of furthering the goals of the Mandate, did what they could to obstruct them; the Armenian state offered was merely part of the Soviet Empire, until very recently, and never included those regions once inhabited by Armenians murdered by local Muslims in present-day Turkey; the Kurds got nothing, but their moment may at last be coming.

The word "settler" in the obsessive BBC usage (and not only the BBC; The Economist long has favored these pictures of bearded, gun-toting "West Bank" settlers, impliedly religious fanatics, we are meant to think, the lot of them) is meant to suggest that other word, the word the Arabs use directly -- that is the word "colonist." And what is a "colonist"? A "colonist" is merely a cog in the machine of "colonialism" and the Jews, you see, including those who served as chattel slaves of Arab tribes in Yemen for a thousand years, or those who came from Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran -- that is, those who remained when others were the descendants of Jews who had been forced to leave their lands by Arab Muslim conquerors, who quickly imposed a system of dhimmitude and persecution, in the Holy Land, with especial severity, are in the BBC version to be depicted as those semi-European "colonialists" who must go back, eventually, to some mother country.

This all takes place through repetition of loaded phrases: "settler" and "occupied" are merely two that stick out. It is the snarl oblique, which supplements the Arab propaganda of all those guests, some Arabs, and some "Middle East experts" who parrot, in one register or another, the same Arab line, often in tones of grave or sweet reason, but if you listen closely to one of those former diplomats (say, all those former American diplomats, sometimes ambassadors, sometimes something more lowly, who have taken positions in some transparent Washington institute devoted to the "Middle East" and supported directly or indirectly, that comes from all those eagerly recycling, by money from that same "Middle East."

The term "Holy Land" is used by all kinds of people to mean that they consider that part of the world (Israel, Judea, historical "Palestine" on both sides of the Jordan as that term was used in Western Christendom), "holy" because it is where Jesus was born and lived and died, where Christianity had its beginnings, its earliest history. In how many thousands of works in Latin does the phrase "Terra Sancta" occur? In every third or fourth book in the Vatican Library? For someone to be so distant from, uncomprehending of, his own history, his own civilization (I assume you are a citizen of the West), so as not to recognize the religio-historical provenance of the phrase "Holy Land" shows something about the collapse of educational standards, and the absence of both Sprachgefuhl ("language-feeling") and what Jacques Barzun once wittily described, I dimly recall, as "Geschichtengefuhl" -- not mere knowledge of facts, but the "history-feeling" that comes long after the facts have been learned, and sense made of things through the dimension of time.

And to the reader who wrote, "You never once provided an explanation as to why" you used the term "Holy Land" when discussing Israel -- that is, in apposition. Well, I assumed that readers knew something. I assumed a minimum amount of historical baggage. In your case, I assumed incorrectly. Obviously when I write "Israel, the Holy Land" I am using first the Jewish, and then the Christian designation -- that's it. If you don't recognize that, what the hell do you make of paintings in museums, of the iconogrpaphy that relies on a knowledge of the Old and New Testaments? Is most of Western painting off-limits to your understanding? And much of Western writing, including all kinds of allusions in Shakespeare, Milton, and a hundred others? I find this state of affairs grim.

Any educated person, I repeat, will use without embarrassment, or hesitation, the phrase "Holy Land" in a context in which it is clear that one is describing how that place is described or thought of by others, and those others may or may not include oneself.

I'm not a Believer. I don't believe there is a God, and so I don't think He promised the Land of Israel to the ancient Hebrews, that famous Terra Promissa. But I know, rather than believe, or not believe, that the ancient Hebrews lived there, that the Jews lived there and created and were created by that Land, and that they alone longed for it for the years of their exile, and I am of the view that if there is a God, given all that has happened, He certainly would have promised that Land to the Jews. It makes poetic, moral, all kinds of sense -- the kinds of sense that matter to those who have any sense left in them.


And here's another point. It is undeniable that in order to believe the Muslims have a claim, any claim at all, to that area as important to them, then you have to agree to believe that a certain Muhammad ascended into Heaven, all the way to the Muslim Seventh Heaven, and came down again the same night, on his fabulous winged steed Buraq. Only Muslims believe that.

But the connection of Jews to that area is not a matter of religious faith which one may or may not share. And the connection of Jesus, and early Christianity, to that area is not a matter of religious faith, which one may or may not share. The Hebrews really did live there, did make their history there, were formed there, and in exile did long for the place as no one else did. Jesus was born and lived and was crucified there. Those are matters of history, not religious belief. Quite different from that story of Muhammad on Buraq, and the careful assignment of that "farthest mosque" (the Qur'anic passage mentions only "al-masjid al-aqsa" without specifying where it is) to the Temple Mount, in an obvious act of religio-geo-political appropriation.

The next time you find me using the phrase "Israel, the Holy Land..." you should understand that this means the same sliver of land that we now call Israel is the same sliver historically called the Holy Land. And if one calls it the Promised Land, that too is a recognition of how it was regarded in the Western world, and does not necessarily mean that the author 1) believes in God and 2) believes that He promised the Land to the Jews.

But anyone endowed with the least bit of moral or historical sense, or with something else, poetic sense, will certainly believe in the idea of the Promised Land. Even if one were utterly devoid of religious faith, and did not believe in a God to Promise Land, what the most persecuted tribe in human history has had to endure, and right now continues to endure at the hands of a vicious enemy conducting an endless Jihad (and has to endure further the cruel miscomprehension of all kinds of outsiders, not least many at the BBC and the U.N. and the E.U. hierarchy), entitles it, has earned it the right, along with the long historical connection of Jews to the Land of Israel, to treat that land as promised to them. And any Non-believer who cannot see the moral, historic, poetic rightness of that, has something wrong with him.

That's my view. It's a Pisgah-sight of Palestine.