From the Editor
What Names Mean
Perhaps there is no better example of the way in which the use of names shapes public attitudes than the conflict over what Israelis call "Ras el-Amud." The very use of that name signifies Israel's defeat. If the name is Arab, in their collective consciousness, Jews have relinquished it to Arabs.
Yet as Uri Elizur points out in the October issue of the Israeli magazine Nekuda, which he edits, for Jews to call this tiny area of Jerusalem by an Arab name would be comical if it did not indicate that for Israel's elite, Jerusalem's division is already a fait accompli. The area
has been called, and known in Hebrew culture, as the Mount of Olives for thousands of years. Elizur observes that no one, even on the extreme fringes of the Jewish left, says that the Cave of Machpelah is located in "al-Hallil" or that Joseph's tomb is in Nablus or that the Western Wall, the Kotel, is the western wall of the "Haram a-Sharif."
The houses bought by Irving Moskowitz are on the slope of the Mount of Olives. Nor are they located in the "midst of an Arab population." In the north is the great
ancient Jewish cemetery. (As Nadav Shragai pointed out in Ha'aretz, this is the oldest Jewish cemetery in history, the hill along which Jews have made their way for centuries to the Temple Mount, the hill upon which the kings of Israel and the high priests were anointed, where tens of thousands of Jews are buried -- from the humblest of Jews to such famous figures as Rabbi Yehuda Hasid, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and S.Y. Agnon.) The neighborhood's eastern edge abuts the district headquarter of the Israel police, built on Jewish land. The southern border is "Abraham's House" and its surrounding woods, which belong to a Christian, non-Arab, church. Only on the western side are there Arab neighbors.
The plan for Jewish housing there had been approved by the Jerusalem City Council under Labor stalwart Teddy Kollek. Ehud Barak, when he was Minister of the Interior, promoted the project. As Elizur points out, the explanation for the turnaround is clear. It is fear of Arafat-inspired terrorist actions. And since "we are scared" does not sound noble, they disguise their motivation with a smokescreen of Arab names and Arabic terminology.
However, Elizur is wrong on one point. He says this is the first time in the history of the Arab-Jewish conflict that Israeli society uses Arab toponyms for Hebrew place names that have never fallen out of use and that reach back into the remote past. But what about the determination with which most Israelis clung to the "West Bank," a term with a mere 30 year provenance, in preference to Judea and Samaria?
Feiglin and Netanyahu:
Companions in Sedition?
` Moshe Feiglin, awaiting sentencing after conviction for "sedition" (Feiglin, alas, might aptly be called a Prisoner of Zion in the Jewish state) has been sent to prison on new charges: that over a year ago he broadcast over the radio a call for the release of Nachum Korman and Yoram Skolnick. (Both had killed Arabs: Korman had acted in self defense, when his car was stoned; Skolnick received a long sentence for killing an Arab terrorist after he had been subdued.) Feiglin's appeal for their release was deemed "encouragement of terrorist and murder activities."
If Feiglin's broadcast seems more like free speech than sedition, breathe easy. Feiglin could have
distinguished company if some Labor members of the Knesset have their way. Unaware a microphone was on, Netanyahu turned to Rabbi Yitzhak Kadourie at a meeting and said the Left "had forgotten what it is to be Jews. They think they'll place the defense of the land in the hands of the Arabs. That the Arabs will look after us."
The worst that can be said of this remark is that
it is so obvious as to be banal. But all hell broke loose around Netanyahu. Labor Party standard bearer Ehud Barak announced that Netanyahu had been "whispering sedition" and was guilty "of incitement against the Left." Fellow Labor Knesset member Ophir Pines did him one better and announced he was filing a police complaint against Netanyahu over his remarks which "proved" that he was responsible for the incitement that led to the assassination of Rabin.
Netanyahu is as much (or as little) guilty of "sedition" and "incitement" as Feiglin. And chances are, Feiglin would probably be happy to share his cell with the Prime Minister.
(Continued on p.11)
Outpost - 2 - November 1997