Skip to main content

I'm not a regular diarist or commenter at DK, both because I'm often too busy to write and because this community is so full of active, erudite members with well-developed opinions on world matters that, whenever I feel inspired to add something to the discussion, I typically find that someone else has already said it, and better. While I am an obsessive lurker here, relying on the Kossack family for some of the best community-based reporting and opinion pieces on issues that are overlooked by both the traditional media and the larger blogosphere, I tend to add my voice only when I feel there is something important to be said that I haven't seen articulated elsewhere.

Over the past few days, I've been following the many lively discussions concerning the current conflict in Gaza with a great deal of interest, and have found a few opportunities to add something new to the discussion by commenting. Consequently, I've seen a trend in the language used in said discussion that I feel warrants a diary. I'm not talking about ad hominem attacks or Godwinism or any of the other rhetorical misconduct that is (thankfully) largely absent from the activity here. I'm talking about the labels we use to classify the belligerents in this conflict - namely "Palestinian" and "Israeli" - and I am appealing to the DK community to be more careful about the broad employment of those terms.

The Palestinian people are not lobbing missiles over the border into Israel. The Hamas authorities and militants with the support of Hamas (and myriad other militant groups) are the ones responsible for the attacks on Israel, just as the Palestinian people didn’t kidnap and murder those Israeli teenagers. Likewise, the Israeli people are not as a nation responsible for the brutal war currently being waged against Gaza. The Likud government and its hawkish coalition are the ones that have instituted the policies that set up the blockade and used the kidnappings as a pretense for their actions in Gaza that (arguably) initiated the latest round of fighting. I understand that both Hamas and Likud were democratically elected by their respective constituencies, and that there is an argument to be made that their policies reflect the will of the people they represent. I would respond by asking the members of this community how they felt about the actions of the Bush administration, and whether they were comfortable with any implication that all Americans were complicit in the invasion of Iraq. The point is that, as with any action taken by a government, there is dissent and disapproval of the behavior of the decision-makers in this conflict, and the idea that the entirety of either the Israeli or Palestinian people agree with what their leaders are doing is a dangerous and harmful simplification that creates yet another obstacle on the road to peace.

To paint the population of either nation with so broad a brush is not only inaccurate, it's detrimental to the discussion here and to the cause of a peaceful and lasting resolution to the decades-old conflict between these two nations. As long as these generalized labels are used to describe the two sides in this conflict, the world community - and the nations themselves - will continue to see the picture in black and white. As long as we continue to condemn the Palestinians and Israelis for the actions of Hamas and Likud, we perpetuate the simplistic lies that all Palestinians are Jihadi terrorists and that all Israelis are warmongering imperialists. The result is that the two sides (and their respective supporters and detractors around the world) feel increasing solidarity with the violent and extremist elements amongst them. When a lie (or in this case, a miscategorization) is repeated often enough, it starts to gain credibility. When a group is misidentified in a certain way frequently enough, that group eventually starts to think of itself in that way, and the nuance of the situation - the very thing that would allow the Palestinians and Israelis to recognize that their shared plight is the result of the decisions made by their leaders and that they would be better served by a permanent and just peace - gets lost in an increasingly polarized game of Us versus Them.

My hope is that a lasting peace in Israel and Palestine can be achieved in my lifetime. In order for that to happen, there are many difficult choices that need to be made by both countries and by the international community. One of the easier decisions is the way we use our words to define individuals, groups, governments and populations as a whole. Language is much more powerful than many of us recognize. Let's make sure we're using it for the cause of peace.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site