Robert Fulford: "A War of Language"

October 16, 2006

Fulford_3National Post columnist Robert Fulford examines the motives and methods of Israel’s accusers. We’ve posted some excerpts below, but the column is worth reading in its entirety. Read it here or here.

"The people who have dreamt for years of making Israel appear illegitimate have recently concentrated on depicting its current struggle as a rerun of the fight within South Africa during the apartheid era, with Jews playing the whites this time and Palestinian Arabs the blacks.

That comparison wouldn’t survive serious scrutiny, but it’s just dumb enough to stir enthusiasm among those who bring to this question nothing more logical than a suspicion of Israel and sometimes a dash of anti-Semitism…

At this stage the boycotters [of Israel] are fighting a war of language. They believe that the right labels will win their argument. If successful, they could eventually isolate Israel and make its concerns seem trivial and its accomplishments cruel.

So the boycotters borrow their language from past events, hoping familiar words will carry familiar emotions. Their rhetoric depends on finding Israel guilty by analogy.

What Israel calls a security fence, the boycotters call an apartheid wall. What Israelis call Gaza, a region from which Israeli settlers have been withdrawn, the boycotters call Bantustan, a term used to describe territory occupied by blacks under apartheid…

Each of those words brings with it heavy baggage. But in this context do they also carry authentic meaning or have they been worn out by rhetorical overuse?…

The boycotters ignore that kind of complication. They throw handfuls of terminology in the direction of Israel and hope something sticks."


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