19 November 2007

On the Usefulness of (Denying the Existence of) Walls for Politics (5)

Photograph © Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press

This photograph made it into the "Pictures of the Day" or "The Day in Pictures" at both the BBC and The New York Times today (19 November 07). What caught my eye were the captions which, respectively, read:

BBC: "A Palestinian youth attempts to cross Israel's separation barrier
from Jerusalem into the West Bank town of Aram."

Times: "A Palestinian youth crossed a section of Israel's separation
from Jerusalem into the West Bank town of Aram. Israel
approved the
release of 441 Palestinian prisoners ahead of the
planned meeting of
Middle Eastern leaders in Annapolis, Md.,
and pledged not to build
any new settlements in the West Bank."

There is not much difference except that The Times highlights Israeli gestures in advance of the meeting next week. But notice the language I've italicized where the two captions do overlap. I find it perplexing. Why is it that the media refuses to call this edifice for what it is - a wall? Why the need to use euphemisms? Is this official Israeli Government terminology? I don't know. If so, why can't the Israeli's call a wall a wall? If not, where does the Western media get its language?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can tell you as a Hebrew speaker that in Israel the barrier is called "geder hafrada" or: "separation fence." The preferred English term that most Israelis use is "security fence." I think it's correct not to call it a wall because something like 90% of the barrier is a chain link fence.

19 November, 2007 19:50  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

dawei, Thanks. It may be that 90% is chain link fence, but to my eye this "youth" is scaling a wall. That said, an earlier installment of this series of posts show images of the "fence" along the US-Mexico border. I think that is a wall too!

It may be too, that the caption was supplied by the photographer ~ a possibility I negelcted to mention.

19 November, 2007 20:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, walls have negative connotations, and are wildly applauded when torn down. Can't have that, then.

19 November, 2007 20:09  

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