Yaron Dekel, commanding officer of Israel’s Army Radio, has issued a directive to his staff this week, to avoid using the term “West Bank,” or just “the bank” (HaGada in Hebrew), and to stick instead to the term “the territories,” Ha’aretz reported.
Dekel argued that the term had become the linguistic property of the left and the PA Arabs—a.k.a. Palestinians—and so his station must avoid its use.
Interestingly, Dekel, who in four months will conclude his term as head of the popular, two-channel radio station, did not suggest substituting “Judea and Samaria” for “West Bank,” probably because that term has become associated with the right.
The station on Thursday issued a statement saying the commanding officer prefers a neutral term, which “the territories” (HaShtachim) is. The US State Dept. used to use the term “disputed territories,” which does not have a popular colloquial equivalent in Hebrew. Spoken Hebrew qualifies the term only as HaShtachim Ha’Kvushim (occupied territories), or HaShtachim HaMshuchrarim (liberated territories), with the obvious political connotations.
The station’s statement also suggested the term “West Bank” has been acquired by the “Palestinian narrative.”
The West Bank used to be the sanctioned name of the area east of the 1949 armistice “green line” that separated Israel from Jordan. It remained a neutral part of everyday conversation in Israel for a few years after the 1967 Six Day War, and then was replaced by the Jewish right, which preferred Judea and Samaria, a reference to the two Israelite kingdoms that reigned there from roughly 1,000 BCE (King Saul) and 586 BCE (Babylonian exile).
It can be argued that the Jewish right has ceded the “West Bank” and thus turned it from a useful, quite accurate geographic term describing a concrete territory which is in dispute, into a loaded, anti-settlement enterprise term in the service of the left and the “Palestinian narrative.”