Israel demands Hebrew names instead of Arabic

Friday, 31st July 2009 at 16:45 UTC Leave a comment

There is one aspect to the middle east conflict which could easily be forgotten because it doesn’t involve weapons, that of cultural subjugation. Recently, Israel has been working on two specific areas of this; the first being the erasing of the “Nakba”, the Palestinian “day of distress”, from deletion from textbooks to attempts at banning commemorations outright. The second of these is the alteration of road signs so that Arabic, and equally Historic, names are deleted.

The Israeli government is hiding behind claims that this is an act of compassion on those who get confused by places having multiple names. I’m sure the Welsh don’t have this problem, and Sat Nav can almost certainly handle both. So we can be left with little doubt that this is simply an act of cultural imperialism, and thus an attempt to revise history.

One might wonder how this could affect ‘us’. Of course, in a sense, this is an issue taking place thousands of miles away, but the reality is, the Israeli government would be all too glad for western copies of the bible to begin using the names it is trying to impose as the sole example. I suspect there’s a lot of people who will just go along with this, feeling that somehow its more accurate to use the modern Hebrew name. Why a government that wants to claim authority as the only Jewish government on Earth should have that right is beyond me.

But more dangerously, names like “Al-Quds” could be deleted forever under these plans, in favour of the Hebrew name Yerushalaim, a step closer, perhaps, to Israel claiming total authority over the city. I wrote not long ago about “Memory”; this is a struggle for Memory and one that people the world over should sit up and take note of. This is no different to any other “First Nation”/”Aboriginal” struggle to ensure that their lands are not just linguistically and physically bull-dozed.

I suppose ultimately its an attempt to sweep away all memory of peaceful Arabic-Jewish co-existence in Israel. After all, the Jewish-Arabs who lived there in the centuries when we are led to believe that Jews had no presence are often seen as something of an embarrassment, an anomaly of history. They get in the way of the revisionism Israel clings onto for its survival as a “Jewish State”.

And along with moves like this, it shows just how determined they are to push an “all or nothing” message: “either you keep us in control, under the pre-text of being a Jewish state, or you allow the Arabs to overrun us and there will be an Israel no more”. Put a different way; “we’re not sharing this land with the Arabs as our equals”.

I get sick and fed up of being told that the Arabs want to push the Israelis into the sea, as if somehow this aim is widespread. Yes, some people want this outcome, but its only very few. What most want is to share the land reasonably quitably and to have some kind of government that treats everyone as equals. In a sense, they want a pro-religious secular government, not  a sterile secularism, nor a religious government that condemns all others to suffering.

I truly believe that if Israel actually intended to share Jerusalem, some kind of solution could be found, but that it doesn’t want to share. And until the Israelis are able to begin a process of reconciliation, there is no chance that a real peace can be found in either a one or two state solution. Right now, Israel’s government at the least are showing their determination to keep the suffering going and to keep building the war economy that sustains Israel’s wealth. There is no logical way this can lead to peace.

Entry filed under: Culture, Language, Middle East, News, Religion.

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