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PA deceit: Moderation in English and extremism in Arabic

Nan Jacques Zilberdik and Itamar Marcus  |
  • In English, Israel is "Israel" but in Arabic it is "the 1948 territories"

The PA’s official news agency WAFA is a clear illustration of the PA’s duplicity, which Palestinian Media Watch has exposed for over two decades.

In English – for foreign consumption - WAFA tries to present a moderate image and refers to Israel by name - simply "Israel." But in Arabic, to its own people and the Arabic speaking world, the official PA news agency refuses to recognize Israel and instead of using the name "Israel," calls it "the 1948 territories." 

The expression "the 1948 territories" is part of a longer PA expression, which is "the territories occupied by Israel in 1948." According to PA ideology, all of Israel is said to be an illegitimate “occupation” with no right to exist - some areas occupied since 1948 and the rest since 1967.

The following are four examples from recent WAFA reports that were nearly identical in Arabic and English, except for the terminology used to name Israel:

WAFA, official PA news agency,
English edition

Israel is "Israel"

WAFA, official PA news agency,
Arabic edition

No Israel – only "the 1948 territories"

"Ibrahim Ighbarieh, 54, and his brother, Mohammad, 51…are from the Arab village of Musherfeh, in Israel…"

[WAFA, official PA news agency,  
English edition, Feb. 26, 2020]

"The brothers Ibrahim (54) and Mohammad (51) are from the village of Musherfeh that is within the 1948 territories."

[WAFA, official PA news agency,
Feb. 26, 2020]

"The popular committees in Tamra and Kabul, two Arab towns in the Lower Galilee in northern Israel, demonstrated against Netanyahu…"

[WAFA, official PA news agency,
English edition, Feb. 26, 2020]

"The popular committee in Tamra and the popular committee in Kabul, which are within the 1948 territories, organized a demonstration today against … Netanyahu."

[WAFA, official PA news agency,
Feb. 26, 2020]

"The Palestinian Arab town of al-Jish, in the Galilee, northern Israel, according to local sources."

[WAFA, official PA news agency,
English edition, Feb. 11, 2020]

"The Palestinians and Arabs in the village of Al-Jish in the Galilee, within the 1948 territories."

[WAFA, official PA news agency,
Feb. 11, 2020]

"… the ID cards of worshipers coming from Arab towns in Israel and East Jerusalem."

[WAFA, official PA news agency,
English edition, Jan. 31, 2020]

"…the ID cards of the worshippers who came to the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the 1948 territories and Jerusalem."

[WAFA, official PA news agency,
Jan. 31, 2020]


Palestinian Media Watch has previously exposed that the PA is very conscious about the terminology it uses relating to the conflict with Israel. The PA’s Ministry of Information has published a book instructing Palestinians which words to use.

The introduction to the PA Ministry of Information's book stresses that correct Palestinian language must be chosen in order to avoid language that recognizes Israel's existence as "natural." 

"[Using the Israeli terminology]… turns the essence of the Zionist endeavor (i.e., Israeli statehood) from a racist, colonialist endeavor into an endeavor of self-definition and independence for the Jewish People."

Palestinians are encouraged to use terms that indicate that Israel is the result of "a racist, colonialist endeavor," and the book instructs Palestinians never to use the name "Israel" alone but instead to use the term "Israeli colonialism." To use "Israel" by itself is damaging, according to the PA, because to do so "describes Israel as a natural state."

The book includes charts with the "poisoned terms" to be replaced by Palestinian terms, for example all terms relating to terror and violence are whitewashed as “legitimate resistance”:

Israeli term Palestinian Arab term
(Palestinian) Terror Resistance
(Palestinian) Terrorist Resistance member
Suicide (bombing) operations Martyrdom-seeking operations
Palestinian violence Legitimate resistance
Person who was killed Martyr (Shahid)
Reciprocal violence Resistance response

The official PA schoolbooks are explicit about their non-recognition of Israel in any borders. See for example this map defined as the "geographical area" of "the state of Palestine":

[PA 7th Grade Social Studies Textbook, Part A, published August 2017]

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