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Terms misused by anti-Israel activists: A doublespeak dictionary for modern anti-Semites


09 Nov 2016

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In the seemingly intractable conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, words are just as powerful weapons as rockets or knives. Words can kill, but they are also a casualty of the conflict.

You may remember Newspeak, the fictional language in George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was an altered form of regular English designed and controlled by the state in order to suppress free thought, individualism, and happiness. Newspeak intended not only to force the populace to conform their thoughts and ideologies towards those of the state, but to make it impossible to even conceive of any other point of view.

Reminiscent of Newspeak, the English language as applied to Israel and the Palestinians has been repeatedly bastardised and butchered beyond all recognition, and accepted by many people as “the truth”, without question or challenge.

So below we helpfully present a dictionary of terms that have been as misappropriated as the Jews’ history in Israel. For practice, we suggest you go to Kia Ora Gaza’s Facebook page with this dictionary in hand. In no time at all, you will be a card-carrying Newspeaker!




Correct: Systematic racial or ethnic segregation enforced by the state. Incorrect: A system that gives all citizens including its 20% Arab population equal rights, including to vote in elections and participate in all aspects of civic life, and that as agreed under the Oslo accords, allows the self-governing areas of the Palestinian territories to determine and enforce their own laws.
Example: South Africa had a system of apartheid. Example: Israel is an apartheid state.


Correct: To control territory by transplanting people and exerting political power from another sovereign territory. Incorrect: To be an indigenous people who have maintained a continuous physical presence under occupation for millennia, and for whom the United Nations re-established a sovereign state, where there was no existing sovereign state.
Example: Britain colonised New Zealand. Example: The Jews colonised the land of Israel.

Extra-judicial killing

Correct: The killing (mainly politically motivated) of a person by governmental authorities or dominant political groups without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process, and that does not include any killing that, under international law, is lawfully carried out under the authority of a foreign nation. Incorrect: Shooting a terrorist in the middle of a terrorist attack to prevent further injury and loss of life.
Example: Extra-judicial killings occur frequently in Iran. Example: Israel regularly practises extra-judicial killings when it shoots Palestinians who are in the middle of a stabbing rampage or car ramming, because they do not first ask them what their intention is and respond with a like weapon.

Fascism (adjective: fascist)

Correct: A system of government characterised as radical authoritarian nationalism, opposed to liberal democracy. Incorrect: A democratic multi-party parliamentary system that includes men, women, secular and religious Jews, Christians, Muslims, and homosexuals.
Example: Gaza is ruled by the fascist group Hamas. Example: Israel is a fascist state.


Correct: A small fleet of ships. Incorrect: One boat.
Example: The flotilla went to fight in the Spanish war. Example: The women’s peace flotilla to Gaza sought to break the illegal blockade of Gaza.


Correct: Intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group. Incorrect: One of the fastest growing populations in the world. In 1990 the population in the West Bank and Gaza was 2 million, in 1997 it was 2.8 million, in 2007 it was 3.7 million, in 2015 it was 4.7 million according to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics.
Example: Hamas’ charter declares its intention to commit genocide against Jews. Example: The Israelis are committing genocide against the Palestinians.

Human rights activist

Correct: A person who advocates and works for the protection and promotion of human rights, often for minorities and oppressed peoples such as women, LGBT, children and political dissidents. Incorrect: A person who fabricates human rights abuses by Israel, while ignoring the persecution of gays, suppression of free speech, deprivation of women’s rights, abuse of children, and incitement to violence against Israelis that occurs under the Palestinian leadership.
Example: Martin Luther King Jr was a great human rights activist. Example: Roger Fowler is a human rights activist.


Correct: Something that is against the law. Incorrect: Something that you don’t approve of, but has been declared to be legal by the United Nations and leading international law experts.
Example: It is illegal to drive your car into people with the intent to maim or kill them. Example: The blockade against Gaza is illegal.


Correct: A ruling power exercising provisional control (but not sovereignty) over a territory, without the agreement of the sovereign ruler. Incorrect: Gaining control of a non-sovereign territory through a defensive war and offering several times to cede control and/or actually ceding control.
Example: The occupation of Northern Cyprus by Turkey. Example: The West Bank has been under occupation by Israel since the 1967 war, prior to which Jordan controlled it. Although not one Jew lives in Gaza and it is controlled by Hamas, Gaza is also under occupation by Israel.


Correct: Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority. Incorrect: Jewish self-determination and any reminders thereof, especially when there is an action designed to protect Jews. Also, anything a Pro-Palestinian dislikes.
Example: Workers in Qatar live under oppression. Example: A border control between Gaza and Israel is oppression and that Hamas lost the war it caused in 2009 is a form of oppression.

Peace activist

Correct: A person who proactively advocates diplomatic, philosophical, and non-military resolution of major territorial or ideological disputes through nonviolent means and methods. Incorrect: A person who proactively advocates, against international law, the demise of a nation state through any means possible, and often encourages or supports violence against that nation state.
Example: Ghandi was a great peace activist. Example: Roger Fowler is a peace activist.


Correct: Someone who is concerned about the suffering of Palestinian people wherever it occurs and therefore condemns and works against the discrimination against Palestinians that occurs in Lebanon and the murder in the thousands in Syria. Incorrect: Someone who is only concerned about the suffering of Palestinian people when Israel can be or is blamed; synonym: anti-Israel.
Example: [None known]. Example: Roger Fowler is pro-Palestinian.


Correct: A displaced person who has been forced to leave his or her country of nationality and cannot or fears to return home safely. Incorrect: A person who was forced or chose to flee the state of Israel when established, together with millions of descendants, who themselves are not displaced and in most cases have never set foot in Israel.
Example: The UNHCR is responsible for Syrian and all other refugees, apart from one group. Example: UNRWA is solely responsible for Palestinian refugees.

Refugee camp

Correct: Temporary accommodation (usually tents) used to provide shelter for refugees until they are resettled. Incorrect: Permanent apartments and other lodgings in which Palestinian refugees (see above) live.
Example: Syrians fleeing civil war are currently living in refugee camps in Germany. Example: We just drove past a refugee camp in the West Bank.


Correct: A military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling those inside to surrender. Incorrect: The movement across borders of 15,000 people each month and 2,000 truckloads of goods per week.
Example: The siege of Leningrad was the deadliest siege in history. Example: Gaza is under siege.


Correct: Having taken something that belongs to someone else without that person’s consent, without sanction of the law. Incorrect: International law acknowledging that you have rights to something that that does not belong to anyone else, i.e. having the United Nations acknowledge your indigenous rights to land that no one else has sovereignty over and grant you sovereignty in that land.
Example: When Jews were forced to leave Arab states when Israel was created, their property was stolen. Example: Israel is built on stolen Palestinian land.


Correct: The use or threatened use of violence in order to achieve a political, religious, or ideological aim. Incorrect: When Israel takes legitimate measures to protect its population from attack.
Example: The brutal murder of a Jewish teenage girl in her bed asleep by a Palestinian was terrorism. Example: When Palestinians stab Jews to death it is a legitimate form of resistance, and when Israel seeks to prevent it, it is a form of terrorism.


Correct: A person who supports the right to self-determination of Jews in their historic homeland. Incorrect: A purely evil person.
Example: Martin Luther King Jnr was a Zionist. Example: Hitler was a Zionist.
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