The trouble with words
Ethan Bronner writes in the New York Times of his troubles conveying meaning in a land where everything means too much, and something different to each side. An excerpt of…
Ethan Bronner writes in the New York Times of his troubles conveying meaning in a land where everything means too much, and something different to each side. An excerpt of The Bullets in My In-Box:
“I have written about the Arab-Israeli conflict on and off for more than a quarter-century and have spent the past four weeks covering Israel’s war in Gaza. For me, Mr. Husseini’s story sums up how the two sides speak in two distinct tongues, how the very words they use mean opposite things to each other, and how the war of language can confound a reporter’s attempts to narrate — or a new president’s attempts to mediate — this conflict in a way both sides can accept as fair.
“Among Israel’s Jews, there is almost no higher value than Zionism. The word is bathed in a celestial glow, suggesting selflessness and nobility. But go anywhere else in the Middle East and Zionism stands for theft, oppression, racist exclusionism.”
Bronner answers the reporter’s time-honoured question “It feels like I am only fanning the flames, adding to the misunderstandings and mutual antagonism with every word I write because the fervent inner voice of each side is so loud that it drowns everything else out.”