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The War of Language

January 16, 2024

by: Cheryl Hauer, International Vice President

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“The first casualty of war is truth.”

This phrase has echoed throughout the ages and has been attributed to various sources. In regard to the current situation with the enemies of Israel, I would edit it to say, “Truth is conspicuous by its absence.” Unfortunately, the propensity of Palestinian leadership and their supporters to spread disinformation—read, lies—has been business as usual for decades. In keeping with another adage, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth,” by the time the war with Hamas began, the seeds of Israel-hatred were already planted and blooming.

Stemming the Tide

Tim Eckert/shutterstock.comThat helps to explain the reaction of seemingly normal, intelligent people worldwide who grabbed their posters and Palestinian flags to march by the thousands in support of a barbaric, murderous terrorist group determined to annihilate the Jewish people. They already “knew” that Israel is a colonialist occupier, occupying the Gaza Strip and oppressing the Palestinian people (lie number 1). They had heard that “From the River to the Sea” was a phrase that described a democratic, Palestinian state where Jews and Palestinians could live side by side in peace and harmony under Islamic rule (lie number 2). And somehow, they had become convinced that the massacre and mutilation of more than 1,200 innocent people of all ages during a rampage of rape, torture and destruction was a proportionate reaction to said occupation (lie number 3).

Unfortunately, the media, politicians, educators and religious leaders alike have fallen victim to using terminology that has been misappropriated and twisted for the specific purpose of not just delegitimizing Israel, but turning the Jewish state into a pariah in the international community. Words have power, and in the war for language, the liars are winning. The Nazis used the psychology of “a lie told often enough” very effectively prior to World War II, but certainly the same must be true of the truth as well. In other words, when we understand the meaning behind the buzzwords and catch phrases and choose our terminology carefully, perhaps we can stem the tide.

So what does “From the River to the Sea” actually mean? It is important to understand that there is no option of a one-state utopia here, with Jews and Muslims living happily together. The Hamas charter clearly states that the terror group’s work will not be done until every Jew has been murdered and all of the real estate we know today as Israel has been turned into a radical Islamic stronghold stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Which bring us to a “two state solution.” Hamas and its terror network have made it crystal clear that a Jewish state—or a state with Jews , —is just not a viable option for them. Their leaders have repeatedly congratulated the perpetrators of the October 7 massacre and told the world unashamedly that such events need to happen all over the nation of Israel until not a single Jew is left alive. So one state it is, and a Jewish state it is not.

But What About…?

Jack Stuart/shutterstock.comWhat about the state of Palestine, you may ask. Such a state does not nor has it ever existed. The closest Palestinian leadership has come to statehood is to convince the United Nations that they deserve the meaningless title of “non-member observer state.” Somehow, they have never been able to convince even the United Nations Security Council that a Palestinian entity is a “peace-loving” body able to fulfill the universally recognized capacities for statehood.

But don’t we all know that Israel illegally occupies Palestinian territory? According to the Jewish News Syndicate, the phrase “occupation” is incorrect both factually and legally. The territories—think Judea and Samaria, or the so-called West Bank, and the Gaza Strip—are neither occupied nor are they Palestinian. In order for the accusation of “occupation” to be true, there would have to have been a binding or authoritative international legal instrument, agreement, mandate, declaration or resolution that determines that the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip are Palestinian. But these territories have never been legally or formally designated as “Palestinian territory.” They were never part of any Palestinian sovereign entity because none has ever existed and were never taken from such a non-existent Palestinian entity. Which makes “Israeli occupation” nothing more than a political catchphrase that has no basis in any genuine legal analysis.

But what about all those Palestinian refugees, you inquire. Under the United Nations’ own definition, the Palestinian people, one of the world’s longest lived refugee populations, don’t qualify as refugees at all. The United Nations Resettlement Program has resettled millions of refugees from conflicts around the globe…except for the Palestinians. Instead, they have the United Nations Relief and Works Agency or UNWRA, their very own UN agency whose sole purpose for being is to receive billions of dollars annually meant to improve and eventually resolve the Palestinian refugees’ situation. Instead, it has been perpetuated until the original 600,000 displaced Arabs in 1948 have morphed into 5.9 million stateless people today.

A Bottomless Pit of Popular Deceit

RBLFMR/shutterstock.comWe have barely scratched the surface of the seemingly endless supply of catchphrases, buzzwords and outright lies designed to influence the narrative surrounding the nation of Israel. Viewing the world through this distorted prism of propaganda, Israel is always guilty and the truth disappears into the dustbin of history. But perhaps the events of October 7 will be a wake-up call for a deceived world who can simply no longer ignore the facts on the ground. Perhaps buying into Palestinian lies will seem less palatable as more and more information becomes public regarding the atrocities of October 7, the brutally inhuman rape of women and the subsequent abuse of children in captivity. Perhaps we are on the precipice of a new reality and our language can help to move that reality forward. We can do our part to move the world from its self-imposed delusion to a place where, at last, the truth told often enough is recognized, embraced and celebrated.

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