7/25/2003
War Of Words
Jonathan Mark

First there was intifada. Then jihad. Then hudna.

For those sleeping through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, those Arabic words for uprising, holy war and most recently cease-fire have passed into common parlance.

The next Arabic word du jour may well be .al-Baraq. or .al-Buraq,. the word for the Western Wall. Yes, that Western Wall. Jews may think the Kotel is indisputably Jewish, but Jews once thought the same about the Temple Mount until Ariel Sharon tried to walk on it.

The Palestinians are claiming, albeit on a low flame, that the al-Baraq is infused with holiness for being the wall that is adjacent and integral to the mosques above, and for being the site where Mohammed once tethered his flying steed (also named al-Baraq, from which the site takes its name).

Islamic clerics such as the Egyptian minister of waqfs (religious legacy) and leading muftis have condemned attempts to .Judaize. Jerusalem, not just in neighborhoods but at al-Baraq. A Cornell University Web site, linked to a university class, describes the Wall not as Jewish but as .holy to both Jews and Muslims.. CNN reports that an Iraqi rocket was named al-Buraq. And last month on the Charlie Rose show.s Web site, a listener posted the opinion that .You don.t need to convince me much on . the holiness of the Western Wall to Muslims,. which the e-mailer calls .al-Baraq..

We.d like to think that Israel is winning this undeclared war, but if she is, why has everything about it been defined in Arabic, and Arabic alone?

The BBC, and others, use the word shaheed for martyrs but not the Hebrew word for Jewish ones. Early on in the Palestinian uprising, when rocks were still the weapon of choice, many journalists, even Israeli ones, were quick to call the .children of the stones. the shabab. In 1967, when Israel was the clear winner, The New York Times referred to the Temple Mount (albeit in English), but today the Jewish reference shares equal billing with Haram al-Sharif.



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