Riverbank: the ground at the edge of a river
It’s an interesting life to talk politics on the coast of Israel. When I talk among my hi-tech buddies in Tel Aviv, they sneer every time I mention the term Yesha. Yesha is the area of land liberated by Israel after 1967. By the time I let my chic friends condition me to the term they are most comfortable with, it’s time for a reunion with my old buddies from Efrat.
Without even thinking, I say “West Bank,” and they look at me as if I should be lynched.
Well, what is it? Is it the West Bank or Yesha?
It’s neither. Both terms are inappropriate.
The West Bank is a propaganda tool. It is not a location or place. The actual size of the West Bank is far smaller than what the world tells you.
What is the West Bank? Technically, it is the riverbank on the western edge of the Jordan River. What is a riverbank? It is the ground that sits at the edge of the river. Jerusalem is 15 miles away from the Jordan River. To refer to Jerusalem as the West Bank of the Jordan River is like calling Yankee Stadium the East Bank of the Hudson River!
The term West Bank is a metaphor. To say someone is from the West Bank is like saying U.S. President Donald Trump grew up in the Empire State.
Yesha, or the Biblical names Yehuda and Shomron, are also dangerous titles. Calling the east side of our country by a different name implies that it is it’s own entity. It falls into the hands of the very enemies who coined the term West Bank. It makes the Land liberated in 1967 seem like an appendage, an addition to the body of Israel.
By relating a piece of territory to a piece of bling, we imply that it is something that can be put on, and can equally be taken off. We also fall into the trap of calling those Jews living there names that peg them as outsiders.
A settler is not a citizen. Even the polite term, pioneer, implies not among us. Who needs to settle an established state? The trap we have fallen into is that we perceive residents of Hebron, Beit El, and their surroundings as part of an expendable periphery.
Welcome to East Israel
The working term for the eastern half of our country should reflect the following:
- This Land is as integral a part of our nation as Tel Aviv and Holon.
- The people who live there are not fanatics, zealots, or even settlers. They are Israelis.
- We will sooner abandon our own flesh than to abandon our own home.
For now on, the communities of Schem, Beit El, Efrat, Hebron, and Jerusalem are a part of East Israel.
Before we even consider annexation, we must change the reality. Say it once, say it a hundred times. Whenever you make a post on social media, call it East Israel. The moment the entire world accepts this new term for the Land, the perception turns in our favor.
From Vietnam, to Iraq, the Oslo War, and the American War on Terror, the battle lines start on the plains of propaganda. How we describe this conflict is the most vital element of how we resolve it. Why should we let the world set the rules if we know they are stacked against us?
In less than a year, high speed trains will take you from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv in 28 minutes. The infrastructure of East Israel is being upgraded to accommodate industry, hi-tech, and huge populations. Anyone living in East Israel will be able to access hi paying jobs on the coast. Anyone living on the coast will be able to enjoy the quiet life of an East Israeli community.
The nation is rapidly coming together. Our words should reflect it.