Themes, metaphors and Gaza

Over at the Algemeiner, A Jay Adler (who usually blogs at The Sad Red Earth) has a very interesting article entitled “When Is an Open-Air Prison a Terrorist Camp?” in which he examines the use of the metaphor of ‘Gaza as an open-air prison’ and other popular themes employed by activists and the media – among others – including the BBC.  

“But what is the intent of the metaphor? Is it not to deceive the judgment and manipulate the moral imagination of those addressed by it so that they will conceive Israelis truly as brutal jailors, while the Gazans, never duly convicted through any process of law, are drawn falsely as unjustly imprisoned?

What those who believe the metaphor forget, but those who concoct it ever recall, is that the goal of political metaphor is to refashion reality, which is to say lie about it but bury the lie. They bury it in metaphorical equivocation.”

Read the whole article here

[Editor’s note: after this post was prepared and queued, Professor Adler kindly provided a link to his article in the comments section of an earlier post. However, the article merits much wider reading and hence a place on our front page.]  

44 comments on “Themes, metaphors and Gaza

  1. ” However, the article merits much wider reading and hence a place on our front page.”

    Which is just the place to get a much wider reading yes ?

      • Maybe Nat, if BBC Watch had several billion pounds’ worth of taxpayers money given to it annually, it may be a closer contest.

        • I’m afraid that ‘BBC Watch’ will never have “billion pounds’ worth of taxpayers money given to it annually” because it does not meet the ethical standards of journalism – that is impartial reporting, done by professionnal journalists who hold a press card.

          Just curious, Mr Levick: could you please let us know whether you and Ms Sela are journalists and hold a press card? I heard that you don’t, but would like to confirm this information with you.

    • It’s in the interest of diversity. What’s the point of having a public forum if only far right wing extremists get to expose their views?

        • “self-hating nutters”

          Dear Mr Levick, could you please:

          1 – elaborate on what this term means

          2 – explain why you use such an agressive term for people who don’t share your views

          • Nat, there are people with whom I disagree. That’s fine. But you are not about disagreeing – you are a part of a strategy to delegitimize Israel and her people – in short you are a bigot Nat, because you hold Israelis and Jews to different standards than others – as does the BBC. For example, the British army has killed far more people in Afghanistan than Israelis have Arabs when defending themselves from a far more acute and immediate danger. For you, Israel can do no right, whilst the Arabs can do no wrong. Your slavish defence if the BBC is a ridiculous joke – as are you.

      • The young terrorist wasn’t just carrying the lifelike replica of a gun – he grabbed a border guard around the throat and held it to his temple!

        Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the dead terrorist’s brother was also a convicted terrorist released under the Shalit deal.

        Do see the link above, then FOAD.

          • How do you want to be taken seriously if you complain about a “terrorist” who actually is a 16-year-old with a toy gun?

          • Terrorist- one who tries to spread terror.
            Having a replica gun that you do not know is fake pointed at your head – terrofying
            A sixteen year old who kills- murderer
            Who spreads terror- terrorist
            surely even you can understand this?

          • Nat, how many 16 year olds play with toy guns?

            If he was threatening soldiers, what do you think is going to happen? Especially in the context where Palestinians have been happy to use children in the past in their terrorist activities – including strapping a suicide bomb belt to a mentally challenged child and sending him to a checkpoint. Not that THAT would outrage you.

          • Adam, are you for real?

            How do you want to be taken seriously if you complain about a “terrorist” who actually is a 16-year-old with a toy gun?

          • Nat, the point is they didn’t know it was a replica (not a toy) – I have fired a replica gun, they are the same as the real one except it fires blanks.

            And Palestinians have been happy to use children for terrorist acts before (not sure a 16 year old is exactly a child – how many 16 year olds play with toy guns?)

      • OK Nat,so what do you think would have happened if a 16yr old Brit (of any ethnicity) had grabbed a British armed policeman round the neck and held a not-obviously-fake gun to his temple, while the policeman’s (also armed) colleagues were just close by?Do you really imagine the outcome would have been any different?

        • This one was lucky, he threw the fake gun to the ground:

          This one wanted to be shot by police:

          This one was lucky too:

          Anyone carrying an imitation gun in public could end up being killed, a senior police officer has warned.

          Replica Uzi man ‘lawfully killed’

          Police shooting death was lawful

          Cathedral gunman ‘raised pistol’

        • Dear Yorkie, the UK neither occupies the territory of its neighbour, nor does it maintain settlements over it in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

          • Which is totally irrelevant to the question I asked, and which you have completly avoided answering because you know the answer damned well. Whatever the political background in the relevant country, you KNOW that anywhere in the world, any kid, having pulled the very same stunt, would also be dead. But you’re just too much of a coward to be honest and admit it. And that’s what makes you a Troll.

          • What does that have to do with the reaction of armed police to being threatened with what appears to be a real firearm?

          • As far as I’m aware, there is no legal basis to the claim that the West Bank is occupied by Israel – do please reveal the relevant legislation if you know of it. To my knowledge, at the very worst, the ownership of the parts of the west bank that currently house Jewish residents is disputed. If these areas are not occupied, the movement of people to it is not illegal. But, even if it were occupied, in accordance with the 4th Geneva Convention, movement of the occupier’s citizens to that area is only illegal if said citizens are FORCED to move there – as far as I’m aware, all Jews currently living in the W/B went there willingly.

          • Israeli settlements in the territory of Palestine (West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza) are considered illegal because they are built in violation of article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states that “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Israel is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions and is bound by them.



          • And again – show me the law that states Israel is occupying those parts of the W/B where Jewish communities exist.
            Israel took the W/B in 1967 a DEFENSIVE war against the then occupier, Jordan – If you dispute that Jordan was at that time only the occupier, and not the owner, of the W/B, then you admit the land did not belong to the Palestinians between 1948 and 1967. Jordan took the W/B during the 1948 war on Independence, in which they were the AGRESSOR (so the land could not then be legally theirs). However, if you nevertheless wish to claim Jordan was somehow the legal owner of the W/B between 1948 and 1967, then the land is legally Israel’s now, both because of the circumstances under which it fell to them, and also because they offered it back to Jordan as part of their peace agreement, and Jordan didn’t accept it.

            So let’s go back a bit further. In 1947, there was a proposal put together by the UN, by which the mandate area of Palestine lying west of the Jordan river would be partitioned to provide a state for the Arabs then living in this area, and also one for the Jews then living in this area.(Note: the area to the east of the river had already been given to the Arab Hashmite king, Abdullah, as the state ‘Transjordan’, later Jordan)
            The partition plan was just a PLAN, a PROPOSAL for peace: it could have no legal basis unless it was agreed upon and ratified.
            The Jews in the remaining mandate area accepted the proposal, but the Arabs rejected it. Therefore, the plan was dead in the water: it was not ratified, and never had any legal standing.

            Therefore, the whole of the mandate area west of the river legally remained one contiguous area, with no sub-boundaries. It was legally in this state when the Jews declared statehood, and the UN voted to accept it. No internal boundaries to this area were stated as part of either the declaration of statehood, or as part of the UN acceptance process. The W/B was therefore, however briefly, and maybe only by a UN oversight, legally Israel’s, and remained so despite that fact Jordan captured it just a few days later in the aforementioned 1948 War of Independence.

            However, that’s not all: let’s go back a bit further. In 1914 the region known as Palestine, ON WHICH NO NATION STATE HAD EVER EXISTESD SINCE THE PREVIOUS JEWISH NATIONS OF JUDEA AND ISRAEL, was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans entered WW1 on the side of the Germans, and during the course of this war, were defeated by the allies, assisted by the Arab revolt. The WW1 hostilities in the Middle East officially ended on 30 October 1918, and the region known as Palestine fell under mandate control to the British. On 2nd Nov 1917, the then UK Foreign Secretary, AJ Balfour, wrote a letter to Baron Rothschild, stating that the British Govt. was in ‘..favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people…’ – known as the ‘Balfour Declaration’. The San Remo Resolution adopted on 25 April 1920 incorporated the Balfour declaration, and made the adoption of it a legal requirement. The Declaration was also incorporated into the wording of the Treaty of Sevres (Aug 1920) and also the wording of the Mandate for Palestine, which was a was a “legal commission for the administration of the territory that had formerly constituted the Ottoman Sanjaks of Nablus, Acre, the Southern portion of the Beirut Vilayet, and the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem” (quote taken from Wiki). Nothing was said in any of these documents that limited the proposed Jewish National Home to the any specific areas within this region, and nothing was written that excluded the West Bank.

            In short, there are many LEGAL AND BINDING documents, and other pertinent circumstances, that would indicate an Israeli claim on the West Bank, but nothing LEGAL AND BINDING as yet, as far as I’m aware, that indicates the ersatz Palestinians own this land. If the land is Israel’s, there’s no occupation. If the land is merely disputed, there’s no occupation. In which case, the clause of 4th Geneva Convention to which you referred above, does not apply.

            Only if and where the land is and was definitely legally the Palestinians, is there currently any occupation. If you can show me that binding legislation, then I’ll cede on this. However, even then, in terms of the 4th Geneva Convention, and the clause “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population”: if I move voluntarily to France, my country certainly hasn’t deported me – and I don’t honestly believe it has ‘transferred’ me – I’ve transferred myself!

          • Dear Mr Levick, Great Britain does not occupy the Argentinan people, while Israel occupies the Palestinian people in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

            The fact that the government of Argentina wants to annex the Falklands islands, a British Overseas Territory, cannot be compared. The population of Falklands – estimated at… 3,140 – enjoys full-fledged British citizenship.

            The same cannot be said of Palestinians living under Israel’s ocupation in Area C of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Hebron’s Old City. They are occupied against their will by the Israeli army and hold Palestinian citizenship, not Israeli citizenship.

          • “Dear Yorkie, the UK neither occupies the territory of its neighbour, nor does it maintain settlements over it in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

            Oh really? What about northern Ireland? There is even a lovely wall there diving the UK’s territory from the REST of Ireland. How about Gibraltar? the Falkands? And let us not go into the vast areas of the earth the English only recently allowed to have their independence after being driven out of despite having no legitimate claim to having. Or do you claim that the English are the indigenous people of Kenya?

            Just because the UK has used it’s position at the UN to rubber stamp some of it’s imperialism doesn’t fool anyone buddy. The Brits are the absolute last people on earth who should accuse anyone else of imperialism, even now.

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  3. Usual diatribe. I’m now even more convinced that open-air prison is a fair description. However,it might be argued that it is actually worse than a prison because the ‘prisoners’ have not been charged with any offence. They haven’t been brought before a judge and jury and convicted. They clearly have no prospect of release or parole. Oh,and they aren’t allowed visits or access to legal representation. On the plus side they do get the occasional food parcel ( for which they are eternally grateful). So now I’ve changed my mind!  It’s much worse than prison but prison will just have to do!


    • I see you have an earnest to desire to be nominated dunce-of-the-year:
      Tell me, does said “Prison” also border a third-country, Egypt, which allows these “inmates” to come and go as they please, through a terminal called “Rafah”?
      Before trying to sound witty, at least take up some geography lessons.
      I can, however, spot one completely derelict ‘prisoner’ in this mess:
      Your mind has clearly beenjailed by your hatred and palpable ignorance…

  4. Just a point of info: Argentina regards the Falklands, South Georgia and a load of other rocks in the South Atlantic as integral parts of its national territory, unlawfully occupied and settled by the UK. That’s not an opinion, it’s a factual description of the position of this Argentine government and all that have preceded it since the return of democracy, it’s also reflected in the 1994 constitution.

  5. What’s your point?

    Israel regards Jerusalem as its undivided capital. That’s not an opinion, it’s a factual description of the position of the Israeli government and is enshrined in Israeli law.

    Other have a different opinion…

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