Many of us are convinced that language has been a weapon of mass destruction during Israel’s four years of war. But wait a second –– what’s the name of that war, anyway? Israelis can’t figure it out. For a while HaMatzav, or the situation, was the Hebrew euphemism of choice. Last month, the Jerusalem Post actually ran a name-that-war item, with the headline, “rename the intifada,” indicating that even the J-Post editors couldn’t think of an English or Hebrew word that matched the perfect branding of the Arabic word.
For almost five months, Columbia University has been at the heart of the campus wars over just how the Middle East ought to be taught in universities where both students and professors are overtly political, in disagreement, and possessing more passion than the pristine objectivity to which academia aspires.