A response to The Israel Project’s Global Language Dictionary

Spoken word artist, Mizan the Poet, writes how the historical narrative behind the Israel-Palestine conflict is being distorted by Zionist organisations like “The Israel Project”.

Since its inception and occupation in 1947, the state of Israel and its western backed allies have regularly distorted language and the use of historical facts in order to uphold the status quo, namely Israel’s domination and the subjugation of the Palestinian people. This can plainly be seen in popular discourse within the mainstream media.

Pro-Israeli media spokesmen are further supported by a pro-Israel advocacy organisation called “The Israel Project” which has released a report to assist Israeli media spokesmen entitled “The Israel Projects 2009 Global Language Dictionary”. But although the biased Israeli narrative gets the most airplay on mainstream media, a loose band of pro-Palestinian activists have joined together to release a handbook that sets the record straight about the Palestinians and their struggle for human rights.

The Israel Project

In 2009, Newsweek exposed an internal report by an organisation called The Israel Project (TIP). TIP describes itself as “a non-partisan American educational organization dedicated to informing the media and public conversation about Israel and the Middle East”.

Israel-Palestinej But instead of promoting an understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian issue like more credible organizations like The Middle East Monitor, TIP acts as an extension of Israel’s Hasbara policy, promoting nothing but Israeli propaganda in order to win the hearts and minds of those confused about the issue.

TIP’s report entitled “The Global Language Dictionary” is aimed to enhance the language and communications skills of Israeli spokesmen in the media for the aforementioned reasons.

An example of this is a quote taken from the report:

Don’t pretend that Israel is without mistakes or fault. It’s not true and no one believes it. Pretending Israel is free from errors does not pass the smell test. It will only make your listeners question the veracity of everything else you say……Use humility. “I know that in trying to defend its children and citizens from terrorists that Israel has accidentally hurt innocent people. I know it, and I’m sorry for it. But what can Israel do to defend itself? If America had given up land for peace – and that land had been used for launching rockets at America, what would America do?” [1]

Distorting language

Apart from the obvious error of distorting the truth, the report encourages Israeli advocates to use the distortion of language and the facts to promote Israeli propaganda to an unknowing western public. The manipulation of language as a tool to form the public perception of the Israeli-Palestinian issue has already played a critical role as is further elaborated by the professor of Modern Arab Studies, Rashid Khalidi:

“Thus in the American/Israeli official lexicon, ‘terrorism’ in the Middle East context has come to apply exclusively to the actions of Arab militants, whether those of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hamas, Hezbollah, or others. Under these peculiar terminological rules, the actions of the militaries of Israel and the United States cannot be described as ‘terrorism,’ irrespective of how many Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqi, or Afghan civilians may have died at their hands.” [2]     

The US along with the UK and France are Israel's biggest allies.
The U.S. is Israel’s biggest allies.

The manipulation of language isn’t the only objective of TIP, the manipulation, distortion and the total eradication of the cause behind the issue is also on the agenda.

This is highlighted in one of their favourite quotes from Barack Obama in a chapter of their report called Lessons to learn from President Obama’s Language:

 

I think anybody who has studied the region recognizes that the situation for the ordinary Palestinian in many cases has not improved. And the bottom line in all these talks and all these conversations is this: Is a child in the Palestinian territories going to be better off? Do they have a future for themselves? And is the child in Israel going to feel confident about his or her safety and security? And if we can keep our focus on making their lives better and look forward, and not simply think about all the conflicts and tragedies of the past, then I think that we have an opportunity to make real progress.” [3]

Confusion over historical facts

Not only does this show the unwillingness of the American administration to bring Israel to justice for its crimes against the Palestinians but to disconnect the past from the present sets a dangerous precedent of fostering an environment where youths will grow up being completely confused about the issue, a confusion on how the issue started and therefore a confusion that can only serve the status quo.

On December 29th 2013, as I was debating a group of Zionist terrorist sympathisers outside a spoken word event as part of the Bethlehem Unwrapped festival, I observed how they tried to engage with a Muslim woman to which her only refutation against their claims was “But I thought you guys were the bad guys?” I have also spoken to some young Palestinian activists who have complained about the lack of factual information to counter the Zionist arguments. But most damaging of all is that even in this climate where Israeli crimes are available for all to see, there are youths who are growing up confused about the cause of the issue.

Former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon who died in January this year
Former Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon died earlier this year

I was a victim of this confusion. In the early 2000’s, I can clearly remember seeing a news report of the then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Dome of the Rock and Masjid Al Aqsa. I can picture the scene of the chaos that ensued but more importantly I remember it clearly because the news report blamed the cause of the conflict on religion, namely the Abrahamic faiths.

It’s only when I educated myself on the issue that I realised what the real cause was – Zionism, terrorism, imperialism and colonialism.

 

In the struggle to assist the Palestinians, we have to reclaim and reframe the use of language while promoting the facts. After the exposure of TIP’s report, an anonymous group of activists came under the group name Veritas to “to provide attractive and free resources for activists in the Palestine Solidarity movement”. Their work culminated in The Veritas Handbook which is the amalgamation of works from several pro-Palestinian academics and credible sources for those who want to understand the cause of the issue. It focuses on the historical causes of the issue, scholarly insights in to the Zionist claims as well as counter arguments, as well as other aspects of the issue.

Although the handbook is by no means an exhaustive study, it provides a good introduction to the cause of the issue as well as to advance the human rights for the Palestinian people.

You can follow Mizan on Twitter @MizanThePoet

Notes

[1] Dr Luntz, Frank; The Israel Projects 2009 Global Language Dictionary, pg 7

[2] Khalidi, Rashid, Brokers of Deceit: How the US has undermined peace in the middle east, pg ix

[3] Dr Luntz, Frank; The Israel Projects 2009 Global Language Dictionary, pg 87

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