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Official PA terminology guide: Instead of "terror" say "resistance"

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik  |

Official PA terminology guide:

Instead of "terror" say "resistance"
Instead of "suicide bombing"
say "Martyrdom-seeking operation"
Instead of "Star of David" say "Six-pointed star"

The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Information has published a book instructing Palestinians which words to use and calling to replace "the Israeli and American dissemination of poisoned terms." The book, which is called Terminology in Media, Culture and Politics, includes a chart with the "poisoned terms" to be replaced by Palestinian terms.

This book and the chosen terms are significant as they officially and accurately reflect PA beliefs, policies and ideologies. As Palestinian Media Watch has documented for years, when speaking to its own people, the PA adamantly denies Israel's right to exist and glorifies the murder of Israelis and Jews, including civilians, as heroic "resistance" when speaking to own its people. This terminology guide issued by the PA reiterates the official PA positions that foreign governments and the international media often don't understand, deny, or ignore.

PA denies Israel's right to exist - reflected in terminology
The PA does not recognize Israel's right to exist. Accordingly, 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."

Killing Israeli civilians is not terrorism but "resistance"
A second fundamental of PA ideology is to refuse to accept that Palestinian attacks that kill Israelis, including suicide bombings against civilians, are terror. Therefore, the PA has chosen the following terms to replace all references to terror that Israel and the world use:

Israeli termPalestinian Arab term
(Palestinian) TerrorResistance
(Palestinian) TerroristResistance member
Suicide (bombing) operationsMartyrdom-seeking operations
Palestinian violenceLegitimate resistance
Person who was killedMartyr (Shahid)
Reciprocal violenceResistance response

The PA refuses to recognize Israel's fight against Palestinian terror as self-defense. Through its terminology, it attempts to delegitimize Israeli security structures and defense measures by replacing the following terms:

Israeli termPalestinian Arab term
Israeli Minister of DefenseIsraeli Minister of War
IDF - Israeli Defense ForcesIsraeli occupation forces
Separation fenceRacist separation fence

The PA refuses to refer to Israel's Arab citizens as 'Israeli Arabs' or 'Arab Israelis'. The Ministry of Information writes:

"The alternative term for 'Israeli Arabs' is 'the Palestinian people in the '48 territories."

The term "'48 territories" is another Palestinian Authority euphemism intended to deny recognition of Israel and is used to replace all references to land in Israel. The term "'48 territories" is actually a shortened term for the full expression used by the PA: "the Palestinian territories occupied in 1948."

Part of the denial of Israel's right to exist includes the PA's refusal to acknowledge thousands of years of Jewish history and culture in the Land of Israel. The book includes Palestinian expressions that should be used to replace Israeli terminology related to history and tradition:

Israeli termPalestinian Arab term
Star of DavidSix-pointed star
Wailing (Western) WallAl-Buraq Wall
Temple MountNoble Sanctuary of Jerusalem
The Promised LandThe Land of Palestine
Judea and Samaria (Biblical terms)The occupied West Bank

This book issued by the PA Ministry of Information is significant because it states and confirms in an official PA document what Palestinian Media Watch has been documenting for years: that the PA terminology that is used by PA leaders and their controlled media is significant and carefully chosen and reflects PA opinions and policy.

The following are more examples from the book published by the PA Ministry of Information that appears on the ministry's website:

Book title:Terminology in Media, Culture and Politics
By: Ministry of Information
"Political, cultural and media terminology has been a fundamental tool in the Arab-Palestinian/ Zionist-Israeli conflict throughout the past century...
[Today,] Israeli and American spreading of [these] poisoned terms continues, with its penetration through the media into broad spheres of world public opinion. Even more dangerous, however, is the penetration of the poisoned terms into Arab and Palestinian public opinion, which is drawn into the trap of using them, without careful examination ...
As the Israeli terminology acts to distort the Palestinian national struggle, it turns the essence of the Zionist endeavor from a racist, colonialist endeavor into an endeavor of self-definition and independence for the Jewish People...
In April 2009, the Ministry of Information held a symposium on the subject of terminology in culture, politics and the media... We have collected [the correct terms] in order to publish them here, so that they can be an important addition to our ongoing struggle, since the beginning of the previous century, to chase away the occupation and the establishment of our independent Palestinian state..."

"Appendix (1) - Political terms related to the Arab-Israeli conflict
First - Israeli colonialism
This term ["Israeli colonialism"] is seen as forbidden and indecent among the Israeli people and state, except for an elite group of scholars and a few 'new historians'... It is surprising that the Arab and Palestinian political and media discourse does not include the term 'colonialism' in describing the State of Israel. Political discourse, both extremist and moderate, describes Israel as a natural state, and does not attach the term 'colonialism' to it."

Other terms in the PA ministry's chart:

Israeli termPalestinian Arab term
(Israeli) RedeploymentWithdrawal from occupied territory
PalestiniansThe Palestinian People
The Palestinian AuthorityThe Palestinian National Authority
PA autonomous areasLiberated Palestinian territory
East JerusalemArab Jerusalem
Disputed territoryOccupied territory
Return (of refugees)Right of return (of refugees)
Palestinian demandsPalestinian rights
 Israeli authorities Israeli occupation authorities
 Israeli prisons Israeli occupation prisons
 The Green Line 1967 borders

The book is currently available for reading on the PA Ministry of Information's website

[, accessed June 18, 2012]

There are many examples of the Palestinian population using these guidelines, even before they were formalized in the book. One example was a PA TV show that discussed terminology last year that included the following statement by a Palestinian journalist and examples of terms that ought to be used instead of the incorrect terms.

PA TV host: "Let's look at some terms, which most of the journalists err [in using] and use in their reports and articles":

List on the screen, read aloud:

Israeli termPalestinian Arab term
"Negotiations are the only way""Negotiations are one of the ways"
"Israel""The Israeli colonialist occupation"
"Nakba" (i.e., "Catastrophe,"
Palestinian term for Israel's establishment)
"Ethnic cleansing"
 "Settlements" "Colonies"
 "Terror" "Resistance"
 "Separation fence" "Racist separation wall"
 "[Palestinian] casualties" "Martyrs"

[PA TV (Fatah), June 16, 2011, Sept. 8, 2011]

Another example showing the use of these terms by the general population was the interview given by terrorist Ahlam Tamimi that was broadcast on PA TV after she was released in the Gilad Shalit exchange deal between Israel and Hamas. Tamimi chose the target and then led the suicide bomber to the Sbarro pizza shop in Jerusalem in August 2001. 15 people were murdered in the suicide bombing, 8 of them children.

During the interview, Tamimi repeatedly referred to the suicide bomber as a "Martyrdom-seeker" and the suicide bombing as a "Martyrdom-seeking operation" - exactly as the Ministry of Information recommends:

Ahlam Tamimi: "My mission was just to choose the place and to bring the Martyrdom-seeker (i.e., the suicide bomber). [I made] the general plan of the operation, but carrying it out was entrusted to the Martyrdom-seeker."
Ahlam Tamimi: "I told him to enter the restaurant, eat a meal, and then after 15 minutes carry out the Martyrdom-seeking operation. My job was to realize, for this Martyrdom-seeker, the happy life [i.e., Afterlife of bliss promised to Martyrs] that he wanted."
Interviewer: "Didn't you think about the people who were in the restaurant? The children? The families?"
Ahlam Tamimi: "No."
Interviewer: "Do you know how many children were killed in the restaurant?"
Ahlam Tamimi: "Three children were killed in the operation, I think."
Interviewer: "Eight."
Ahlam Tamimi: "Eight?! (she smiles) Eight."

[PA TV (Fatah) Oct. 23, 2011]

Likewise, the Palestinian Authority terminology and teaching have always defined Israel as illegitimate and a foreign colonial project, as the ministry recommends. The following are examples from official PA TV and its daily newspaper:

Political advisor to PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, Omar Al-Ghoul:

"Israel is a country that was founded on aggression and colonialism..."
[PA TV (Fatah), April 8, 2011]

"Professor Samih Hamouda, of the political science department at Bir Zeit University, presented an analysis of the research papers written by President Mahmoud Abbas on the subject of Zionist ideology... 'In the President's research, the Zionist movement is not Jewish, nor does it flow from the desires of the Jews themselves. Rather, it is an imperialist colonialist movement which sought to use the Jews and to enlist them to further the western colonialist plans.'"
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 27, 2010]

"The Zionist state is an unnatural implant, the result of a colonialist settlement project... It was set down as a fact on the ground to serve colonialist purposes ..."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Columnist Adel Abd Al-Rahman, Nov. 4, 2011]

On PA TV history program Witnesses and Testimonies:

Palestinian scholar Khaled Ayed: "The Zionist enterprise in its entirety is essentially a settlement enterprise which began at the end of the 19th century... establishing colonies."
Lebanese scholar Mas'oud Zaher: "The Zionist enterprise is an integral part of the imperialist plan to seize the Arab homeland and other parts of the world."
[PA TV (Fatah), May 19, 2011]

An official Palestinian Authority schoolbook likewise teaches children to identify Israel as an example of colonialism:

"Colonialism: Palestine faced the British occupation after the First World War in 1917, and the Israeli occupation in 1948."
[National Education, sixth grade, p. 16, PA schoolbook currently in use. - accessed June 18, 2012]