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May 05, 2005

Words Matter

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Michael Freund has an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post emphasizing the importance of using accurate terminology to describe the Arab-Israeli conflict.

It is the "War of the Words," or of terminology. It is a battle to define and describe Israel's conflict with its neighbors, and it is time that we started thinking ahead and fighting back.

Glance at any major Western newspaper and it quickly becomes clear who is winning the linguistic tussle in the Middle East. The territories are "occupied," Jews living there are "settlers," their supporters are "extremists," while those trying to kill them are mere "activists" or "militants."

On the whole, the language is clearly loaded, helping to shape public opinion against the Jewish state. And thanks to repeated use over the years, these terms have come to be accepted in nearly all public discourse regarding the Middle East.

Needless to say, this is far more than just a struggle over semantics. It is about influencing international opinion and shaping policy. Words, after all, are an instrument of persuasion. As George Orwell noted in his 1946 essay "Politics and the English Language":"If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."

Also, read CAMERA’s Dictionary of Bias, a guide designed to assist those seeking to avoid partisan language which frequently crops up in Western news reports.

Posted by CameraBlog at May 5, 2005 11:37 AM