Little settlement with words

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Words have history, and that is really why they have power. All it takes is one breath to dredge up all sorts of memories and associations. It’s eye-popping when you read a great observer (plug in your favorite literary reference), but in the realm of politics that history is mainly playing off emotions and seeking to motivate one to action or inaction.

Education is probably the place where the jargon and sharp-edged words are most prominent; e.g., “drill and kill,” “the field” (guess what you are excluded!), “choice,” and so on.

This morning reading through the news, and I was curious about the statement by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that East Jerusalem was not a “colony.” It struck me as a real point of clarity, because the word colony has so much history, emotions, and sort of “recovered” memory.

Certainly, papers like the Gulf News consider “settlements” to be colonization.

The Italian left does as well, as La Repubblica makes a practice of using the word colony when speaking on the topic.

The French establishment (center left) paper Le Monde straddles the issue using both the innocuous “nouvelles constructions” and “colonisation.”

Dearest colleague Maria Ortiz Perez tells me that the Mexican daily, La Jornada, regularly uses the word “asentamiento,” the Spanish version of English “settlement.”

I know there is little news in the little settlement over words in politics. The battle over the perception of what is fair and not in East Jerusalem just is a very clear example of what goes on every day.