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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Have I Been Mistaken for a Head of Insect-free Lettuce?

Have I Been Mistaken for a Head of Insect-free Lettuce?
By Sara L. Shomron

Nowadays, 5 years after the Israeli government’s forceful removal of its citizens from their homes in Gush Katif and the destruction of their communities, we seldom read/hear of it referred to as an expulsion but as an "uprooting."

Why has a recent historical event documented by the mass media in all its ugliness, pain, and tears been sanitized and rewritten? I think the word uprooting serves to numb its distraught and tired population and their supporters. It suggests a state of denial of what happened in the summer of 2005. It confuses, bewilders, and reduces the expulsion to a botanical misfortune - and I am aghast.

I don’t consider the word choice to be a matter of semantics or euphemisms. It reflects a world outlook. The use of uprooting seems to desensitize the mind, soften the reprehensible event, and merely serve to pave the way for future expulsions in disputed parts of the Land of Israel. It exonerates the Israeli government of its crime against the Gush Katif residents in particular, and the Jewish nation in general.

The motivation for the change may be that the use of uprooting is considered poetic or without the political baggage rather than the tell-it-like-it-was expulsion. Yet replacing the word and concept of expulsion with uprooting into our collective lexicon misrepresents what happened the summer of 2005. Plants are uprooted and replanted, if not, they die. And plants, when uprooted, if they are to survive, are immediately replanted in soil, watered, and treated with tender loving care. Such was not the case with the Gush Katif population. For example, some communities were repeatedly moved by the government; some went to live in tents while many went to hotels for an indefinite period of time; some went directly to caravillas - all temporary and untenable living conditions. The Israeli government’s motto for the expulsion, “Determination and sensitivity,” was not seen. No, the Gush Katif residents were not uprooted.

In five years from now, will the term uprooting be downgraded to moved?

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

I respect your disdain for this word. But I have to say that to me, it is infinitely better than the awful "evacuate," which implies that you were being saved from something. "Uproot" signifies a tearing away of something that was an organic part of the land. It has a violent connotation, even. I feel it conveys the idea that you were not merely "settlers" (hate that word most of all) and that you belonged there. Although "expulsion" is more accurate in some ways, it does not carry the same implication that you belonged there in the first place, IMHO.

Michael Heymann said...

Sara L.Shomron's piece is right on. This is an eloquent plea for calling a spade a spade. Cut the politically correct verbiage. These Jews have been and remain victims of malicious transfer by fellow Jews. Period.

Anonymous said...

The word 'uproot' became used this way once Naomi Shemer's song על הדבש ועל העוקץ was adopted by those wishing to prevent giving away the Sinai. In the song appears the line אל נא תעקור נטוע and it was interpeted in a certain manner. Since then, we've had the term עקירה and such in our Hebrew vocabulary...

Anonymous said...

Sara, you're no "cabbage head". Even though everyone on the right still uses the Hebrew term "gerush" (expulsion), "uproot" is obviously a euphemism for the English speaking public. Uproot doesn't carry the historical/anti-semitic connotations of the forcible transfer of Jews through the ages by the goyim. But, as "anonymous" said above, it's alot better than pnui (evacuation) or hitnatkut (disengagment).

Michael Gottlieb said...

As long as the left leaning Israeli media continues to have a lock on the marketplace of ideas in this country and so long as there is no effective grassroots effort made to circumvent the media, the true magnitude of the destruction experienced by you and all the other expellees will be kept tightly under the rug. I recall that even while the destruction was unfolding, many Israelis deliberately left the country to avoid experiencing it (second hand via their TV screens), or tuned it out as they remained comfortably ensconsed in their safe Gush Dan homes. The better the government can white-wash the Gerush, the better their odds at attempting another one in the future.

Sara Layah said...

I can appreciate your points Anonymous - though it seems to me that more than one person is self-identifying as Anonymous. To the best of my knowledge, uprooting is not common usage in the English lexicon. It's poetic; a metaphor. It is passionate, heartbreaking, and moving in Noami Shemer's song but otherwise just doesn't work for me.

And the use of uprooting is widespread among Hebrew and English media irrespective of political orientation. Yes, we right-wingers are undermining ourselves!


I found the translated lyrics to Naomi Shemer's song Al Kol Eileh
on http://everything2.com/title/Al+Kol+Eileh

On All These Things
On the honey and on the sting
On the bitter and the sweet
On our baby daughter
Watch over, my kind G-d.

On the burning fire
On the pure water
On the man, returning home from afar
Watch over, my kind G-d.

On all those, on all those
Please watch over for me my good G-d
On the honey and on the sting
On the bitter and the sweet.

Don't uproot what was planted,
Don't forget the hope
Bring me back, and I will return
To the good land

Please, watch over this, my home
On the garden, on the wall
From sorrow, from fear,
and from war.
Watch over the little that I have
Over the light and the children
On the fruit that has not yet ripened
and that has been gathered.

On all these things....

Sara Layah said...

Let me hasten to add that, yes, of course uprooting is in the English lexicon but its use, to the best of my knowledge, specifically refers to plants - agricultural,garden,flora varieties.

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
Michael Gottlieb, unfortunately it's not only the left-wing that uses the term "uprooting". Arutz Sheva (Internet Hebrew), B'Sheva (printed Hebrew weekly) and INN news (Internet English), all part of one of the most right-wing media, frequently use the term uprooting. They do use the term expulsion, gerush, but not exclusively.

In English the term uprooting, when not relating to plants, is poetic. There was nothing poetic about the expulsion. We should remember that Naomi Shemer's song was written before the expulsion from Sinai and she in an interview decades later admitted that she was naive. We should also take into consideration that using poetic language in a song is very different from using poetic language in journalism and everyday speech.

Shy Guy said...

I prefer the term "Judenrein" myself.

Oreet said...

Using the word "uprooting" is no different than "disengagement" - it's all a game of semantics and an attempt to whitewash what was done. No different than all the other PC-isms, or semi-PC talk.

It doesn't matter who is using these words - by downplaying the magnitude of the EXPULSION and the fact that we were left out to dry - you are playing into the hands of those who think it was a good thing and are busy planning the next such disaster.

And make no mistake - we were left out to dry - the supposed compensation we received (if we got it, and many are still waiting) was a joke, the majority of families are still living in cardboard boxes (the caravans = mobile homes they put us in are literally falling apart), many heads of households are still unemployed or underemployed - with no hope of that ever changing. If that is all they could manage with us - what will they do with a much larger population in Judea and Samaria.

Let's use the right words for what is staring us in the face.

in the vanguard said...

I do see your point, only when I used the term, I meant "yanked out of the ground" where the thing belonged. More like "torn out of its place of permanence." But I too will now use the term expulsion, just to be sure not to sanitize, even in the slightest, that cruel misdeed.

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
I've remembered something: Someone named Leah from Ma'aleh Adumim stated a while ago in a talkback that even the term expulsion isn't strong enough. She suggested exile. IMHO, she's correct. Being expelled is a punishment received when one doesn't follow the rules. Being exiled means being forced out of one's land. I haven't used the term exile because convincing people to accept expulsion is hard enough. In the case of the expulsion from Gush Katif and the northern Shomron, internal exile is the situation.

Oreet, I fear that the government is going to try to destroy Yehuda and Shomron in small pieces at a time. The four communities in the northern Shomron were the first to go. The Gav HaHar communities are next on the chopping block and other out-lying communities are next in line, G-d forbid.

in the vanguard said...

Uprooting, on second thought, may still be better than expulsion, for the reasons I mentioned, and for this reason:

In Hebrew, the word Akirah, unless you show me wrong, is NOT what you do with a carrot still in the ground. The farmer does not "uproot" it. I don't know the correct term for it, but AKIRAH is most probably not it - for this term implies destruction too.

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
In Hebrew "akira" is a term that means several things other than "uprooting" without being poetic. For example, the term is used for extracting teeth. While it is euphemistic to use the term "akira" to refer to the "gerush", expulsion, it is not nearly as bad as using "uprooting" in English. The Morfix online dictionary translates akira as: uprooting, extraction, displacement, transfer. Uprooting yields only "la'akor" and "lesharash" - a shoresh is a root.

Vanguard, no-one is claiming that "akira" means "harvest". In the case of carrots "harvest" is translated as "katif". (For language buffs: for grains it's "katzir" or "asif", for grapes it's "batzir", for olives, "masik", for dates "gedida", for figs "ketzia".)

IMHO gerush/expulsion is much more destructive and traumatic than akira/uprooting, and there's no chance of expulsion sounding poetic.

Anonymous said...

"Akirah" is the word generally used in Hebrew to pull out a tooth. It isn't used to pull a carrot out of the ground, but would be used to take a tree out - so I suppose it's used for something firmly embedded.

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
Well, a carrot is a root so it's a bit hard to think of uprooting a carrot: in this case harvesting IS uprooting.

The Hebrew-Hebrew Even-Shoshan dictionary, one of the most respected dictionaries in Israel, does not specify which growing things - i.e. trees vs. something smaller - can be uprooted. Any plant that has roots can be uprooted.

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
Well, a carrot is a root so it's a bit hard to think of uprooting a carrot: in this case harvesting IS uprooting.

The Hebrew-Hebrew Even-Shoshan dictionary, one of the most respected dictionaries in Israel, does not specify which growing things - i.e. trees vs. something smaller - can be uprooted. Any plant that has roots can be uprooted.

Anonymous said...

How about exterminating, or terminating, or murdering these precious Jewish communities....are these suitable words for this unspeakable destruction?

in the vanguard said...

Hadassah, the term akira, as the anonymous after you suggests, meas tearing out the root. Which is why I use the term instead of expulsion, which signifies much less trauma.

You do NOT harvest carrots, onions, beets or root produce. You uproot them. In English you might refer to their removal as "harvest"; That's different from "katzir", I conjecture, for which activity Hebrew probably has a better word - not appearing in the list you provided for synonyms of harvest.

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
Vanguard, I didn't want to get personal, but I'm going to have to prove a point. I am not a plant, neither a carrot nor a tree. I was not uprooted from K'far Darom. I was expelled or more precisely sent into internal exile. My family and I chose to move to Elon Moreh, so we're facing another expulsion/internal exile, G-d forbid. My new neighbors aren't plants either.

I gave a Hebrew word for harvesting carrots: katif. Gush Katif means the Katif Bloc.

Re-read what you wrote. First you say that carrots aren't harvested, then you say that they "might be". Which is it?
When a farmer uproots a few acres of what are called root vegetables (I didn't create the term) isn't that a harvest?

Concerning what the last anonymous wrote, people are, G-d forbid, murdered, communities aren't. The communities weren't terminated or exterminated. They were expelled, sent into internal exile. Some are almost completely intact in terms of the families staying together.

Sara Layah said...

Thank you all for your thought provoking, intelligent, interesting, and engaging comments.

It seems to me that a person can uproot oneself or one's family such as getting a new job and uprooting to live elsewhere. It is done VOLUNTARILY and NOT by an outside source. In this example of relocating for a job, a company doesn't uproot the employee but the employee CHOOSES to uproot oneself. And that I feel is the key. One can uproot oneself. Hence uprooting is a passive word and remains inappropriate as I see it in this context.

To one of the many who has posted a comment as Anonymous:
Exterminating - this is one of many words used for what the Nazi's did to us and what frequently happens when rats are found within a house.

Terminating - one terminates a lease, contract or employment.

Murdering - these precious Jewish communities were created by precious Jewish souls who are still very much alive (though we have had deaths among our Gush Katif population of which many people attribute to health related fallout from the EXPULSION). Our precious children are raised with love of Gush Katif. Those too young to have personally known and enjoyed it are told of life there. And videos, photographs, and books abound. The memory is kept alive and the hope to return and rebuild flows in our veins.

In the vanguard:
Sometimes farmers have to uproot crops that aren't doing well and that is indeed an uprooting and not a harvest. But we're not discussing or considering the word harvest as description for the forceful removal and destruction of Gush Katif and her population.

Sara Layah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara Layah said...

Hadassa:
Gush Katif = Harvest Bloc

It refers to not only carrots but to the many vegetables grown there.

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
Yes, sorry. I should have mentioned that "katif" is used for a wide variety of crops, unlike the other words I listed for language buffs.

Elana said...

Nothing is uprooted 'gently' and when speaking about people being uprooted from their land, it is a pretty violent metaphorical term. This is not to say the word is 'poetic' - it isn't - it is a very graphic term for forcedly removing people from their land. No one is calling you a lettuce, but the term does seem to signify you were once part of a land of which you are no longer a part. I frankly don't see it as soft-soaping what happened.

Sara Layah said...

Hats off to A7 (Israel National News)!
Reported today:
"Beduin Suspected of Uprooting Thousands of Trees"

Now that article heading properly uses the word uprooting!

www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/194180

Shy Guy said...

If you don't like "Judenrein", perhaps you'll settle for "Churban", which is often used with regard to Gush Katif.

in the vanguard said...

If you, Sara Leah, have been UPROOTED from Gush Katif, you're taking it too lightly - is my impression.

Uprooting means removing roots. Many at Gush Katif were of the third generation there. That's roots. And uprooting these poor people, like ripping out a tree from its earth, is horrible. Even a severe sin! It's not a coincidence "man is a tree", as the Torah says - explicitly.

I think the term applies perfectly, despite the original thesis of this post.

Sara Layah said...

in the vanguard:
I am a Gush Katifer and maintain uprooting is not the word of choice for reasons presented in my article.

Let's take a poll.
To All readers of this blog posting. Please answer these two questions:
Were the Jews uprooted from Spain in 1492 or were the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492? And I caution you that many, many generations of Jews lived in Spain prior to the ____________________
(uprooting or expulsion)

Shy Guy said...

Well, they were certainly inquisited! :)

Netivotgirl said...

I read the suggestion of using "put into exile" as opposed to "having gone through expulsion."

Somehow, exile (wordweb: expel from a country.) feels more sanitized than expulsion (wordweb: the act of expelling or projecting or ejecting; squeezing out by applying pressure.)

My gut feeling is that there was an expulsion which led to an exile. Words like evacuate and uproot seem to me inadequate describe the horror Sara Layla lived through. Does this make sense?

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
Let's take a look at who uses which term. The left-wing favors the official Disengagement or withdrawal, but does sometimes use the term uprooting. The term expulsion is reserved for illegal foreign workers and their children. The "right-wing" that believes that anything that the Israeli government does is holy favors Disengagement or uprooting; withdrawal isn't used much in any right-wing camp. The term expulsion is rarely used by the soldier-hugging types, not in Hebrew and not in English. The kind of right-wingers that didn't or wouldn't dance with soldiers who came to force them from their homes insist on "expulsion". Doesn't that tell you something?
I live in the Shomron (Samaria) now and have for almost four years. I read many YOSH (Judea and Samaria) publications. It worries me very much how infrequently the term "gerush" is used. The same wishy-washy statist "leaders" that didn't succeed in blocking the internal exile of 25 communities aren't even speaking strongly now.
It is precisely because my roots are in Gush Katif that I oppose using the poetic term uprooting to describe how 25 communities were exiled.

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
Netivotgirl, I understand what you're thinking. I rarely use the term exile unless I'm engaged in a discussion/debate like we are here. I use expulsion because it's readily understood, although often not recieved well.
Food for thought: What is the first association when you hear the word "expulsion"? Is it school? Students are expelled when they do not follow the rules. Unless the punishment of expulsion has been unfairly given the expulsion is a legitimate act, so in order to correctly describe the expulsion from Gush Katif and the northern Shomron one would have to say "the illegal (or immoral) expulsion", which doesn't sound right at all, and is a bit long.

Sara Layah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara Layah said...

Netivotgirl:
Evacuation - a person is evacuated from their house, neighborhood, building for their own good usually from a natural cause such as fire, hurricane, earthquake, flooding. Once the disaster has subsided the evacuated can, depending on damage, return and commence repairs.

Please take a minute to re-read the definitions of exile and expulsion provided in your comment. I think you'll agree an expulsion can't lead to an exile as the very definition of expulsion includes being exiled. Likewise, being exiled includes have been expelled.

Keli Ata said...

Tentatively...

The word that comes to mind is exterminated. It implies violence and force. And, sadly, the attitude supporters of the expulsion.

The people living in Gush Katif were nothing to them that they could rip them out of their communities by force.

Maybe the term rape is better?

Anonymous said...

If the government uprooted the people of Gush Katif then the government would have transferred and settled them into another part of Israel with their belongings and material wealth intact. But the government put them in hotel rooms – hotel rooms! for months and months of uncertainty and with no access to their belongings. That is not uprooting. It’s cruel and inhumane. It’s an expulsion.

I love Israel, it's a beautiful land. I love the Jewish people but hate what they allowed the government to do. God bless!

Sara Layah said...

Thank you all for your contributions. This exchange has made it clear that the issue is subjective. While uprooting renders a poetic injustice, expulsion is a much stronger word with no innocent connotations. Gush Katif was ethnically cleansed of its Jewish residents. Let's call it what it was.

Tzom kal and g'mar hatima tova!

in the vanguard said...

UPHEAVED/UPHEAVAL may be better that Expulsion. Back when I was a kid, in school, I knew expulsion first-hand. Almost looked forward to it.

Larry said...

The residents of Gush Katif and the other communities were uprooted. They planted themselves in these places with the support of the government and the majority of Israelis. Specifically, the gov't uprooted them in order to expel them. The expulsion was done to accomplish political aims, including the relieving of int'l pressure. And it was done to show the right wing who runs the country; also, as a warning. And there may have been other motives.

The term 'exile' is an exaggeration, since that implies removal from a country/nation, and forced transfer to another country. What is clear is that many residents, especially those whose origins are in Western democracies, were shocked in part by the disregard for individual rights that might prevent such an act occurring in the US or elsewhere. I think it is this shock as much as the loss of home that made the event so traumatic, and it was this aspect that woke up some Israelis who might otherwise rationalize the act itself.

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
Larry, I specifically stated "internal exile" and I stated my reasons.

Annee said...

None of the words seem to describe to me the horror of that which the Government perpetrated on its own people. I would describe the actions taken against Gush Katif as 'Decimation', or even 'Dismemberment' of a viable healthy body.

Larry said...

Hadassa, agreed; internal exile is a better description. For Katifers, Tel Aviv or Jerusalem were not home. They lived with the belief that their villages were as much Israel as anything else. Sharon/Kadima/Olmert (Bibi) made that belief an illusion. What I am thinking/hoping is that Israel was built by folks like the Sapersteins and the rest, and that the settlers will be recognized again as halutzim. But it is clear that the state is run by people who have 'gotten over all that'; the people who gravitate to national-level politics in any country are nearly always greedy and venal. What to do? What to do?

Hadassa said...

Shalom!
Larry, I still call K'far Darom home and knowing that it's still part of Israel I know that someday, even if I don't merit returning, my descendants will merit rebuilding Gush Katif. What to do? If you don't live in Israel, aliya. If you do live in Israel, live where you'll make a difference: an outlying community - and not just in YoSh, Carmiel is having demographic problems too - or perhaps one of the groups bringing truly Jewish life to a "mixed city" (Yafo, Ramle, Lod etc.) is more suitable. Wherever one is, one can always do more. Education can do a lot to ensure that no Israeli government will ever dare remove Jews from their land.

Larry said...

All good points. You are from Kfar Darom? Looked like a beautiful place. Very sorry it is gone.

Sara Layah said...

Like Hadassa, I will always consider Gush Katif to be my home, and pray that one day in the not too distant future, I'll return - if not me, then my progeny. I was privileged to raise my family in beautiful Neve Dekalim where we lived, loved, laughed... and cried.

Many (misguided) politicians consider truncating Yehuda, Shomron, and the Golan regions rendering urgency in increasing our population. Likewise the Bedouin are sprawling out in the Negev. Further, while there aren't Bedouin villages near Nitzan (halfway between Ashdod and Ashkelon), the Bedouin bring their sheep to graze in the nearby fields and nature reserve.

Clearly wherever a Jew makes their home within the Land is an important contribution toward the reclamation, restoration, settlement, and conquest of Eretz Yisroel.

Larry said...

Hadassa, I doubt there will ever be a guarantee regarding more disengagements. I see Bibi and the freeze (Obama), and I see continued weakness. And, to be fair, the Israeli public is confused. Still many people who believe that the only way to keep Israel Jewish is to withdraw from much of Yosh. I think they are short-sighted, but it is easier to seek compromise than to 'take on the world' for most people.

Sara, sorry Neve Dekalim is gone. Maybe one day it will be rebuilt. I can't see it happening in our lifetimes.

Sara Layah said...

Larry:
K'far Darom and Gush Etzion fell in 1948 and with G-d's help we reconquered them 19 years later in 1967. Hopefully it won't take as long to return to Gush Katif!

Anonymous said...

May Hashem grant all of you continued nachat from your children and may He return you home safely in the very near future.