In 1984, while living and working in Jerusalem and utilizing the services of the Government Press Office - which served as the primary source of information for foreign journalists in Israel - I distinctly recall that there were more than a few characters in the foreign press corps who drove the GPO crazy. These were the type who came to
The GPO had tried diligently to locate a bank in Israel named "the West Bank".
Israel with that perennial and typical bias against anything the Israeli government did pertaining to the Arabs and the post-1967 territories.
One day, there was a particularly clueless British journalist who kept inquiring, then demanding, about any and all information that the GPO had on the West Bank. The GPO Director, clearly aggravated by the pushy reporter, sent a memo to him detailing how the GPO had tried diligently to locate a bank in Israel named "the West Bank", but to no avail; however, if the journalist should discover such a bank he should kindly inform Israel's National Banking Association.
The West Bank - the term entered the lexicon of media-speak in the years after the Six Day War, when Israel conquered from Jordan the territory known since antiquity as Judea and Samaria. It was renamed the "West Bank" in large part to designate a heretofore fairly insignificant area. Calling it the "West Bank" - as in the west bank of the Jordan River - was, from the Arab perspective, as good a name as any, so long as it wasn't called by those Biblical names in the world press. The media cooperated, as did practically every government. And so the term stuck.
If the PLO had been media savvy at the time, it could have immediately started calling the area "Palestine", since that was the term used for the British Mandate of all the territory from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. The PLO usurped the term "Palestinians" for their brethren in the territories and beyond, even though "Palestinians" had been commonly used to describe the Jews of pre-Israel Palestine. Yet, if the PLO had decided to call their newly defined territory "Palestine", then that other territory would logically be called Israel. Since they wanted all the land "from the river to the sea," then declaring any portion of it "Palestine" could give the appearance of negating their claims to the rest of the territory, which meant the entire state of Israel. This, they could never do.
So, until the 1993 Oslo Accords sham, we observed that curious contradiction of Palestinians living in an area that the PLO refrained from calling "Palestine" lest anyone think they were settling for half a loaf. And the media and world governments bought it.
Jews had lived in the "West Bank" for millennium, but as the Arabs conquered the territory in 1948 they expelled those Jews they didn't massacre. When the territory was retaken by Israel and Jews started moving back to those former Jewish enclaves, such as Hebron and Gush Etzion, where they had been killed or exiled from several decades before, they became "settlers" and their townships "settlements". Even those who moved to the outskirts of Jerusalem were characterized by the media as "settlers". Ma'aleh Adumim has been a thriving city adjoining Jerusalem for nearly three decades, but it too is called a "settlement".
Meanwhile, those Arabs who moved to historical Judea and Samaria after the 1948 war are designated as
Declaring any portion of it "Palestine" could give the appearance of negating their claims to the rest of the territory.
legitimate residents of (pick one) the "West Bank" or "Palestine". And those Jews who moved there after the 1967 war are defined in the world lexicon as "settlers" in "illegal settlements". Got that?
Since the Arabs conjured up the term "Palestinians" to redefine themselves, the "West Bank" to designate one part of "Palestine", and "settlers" to label those Jews who have since moved in to build communities via their "illegal settlements", another more forceful term had to be created to further demonize the Jewish presence in these territories. Thus came the "occupied territories". The "occupiers" are the Jews, either by their "settlements" or their military "occupation". And since everyone knows that occupiers are bad people involved in an illegal and immoral activity, therefore Israel is bad.
And the "terrorists" are now "militants", except when they gun down a lot of defenseless teenagers in a Jerusalem yeshiva. But when they just kill one or two Jews in Sderot, Ashkelon or Jerusalem they're still "militants".
Which begs the obvious question: If our enemies and their sympathizers insist on using such fabricated terms to demonize the Jewish state, must we?