“Apartheid Wall,” used by Al-Jazeerah and the Palestinian governmental press agency, is a fusion of the former South African apartheid regime and the former Berlin Wall. …It implies racism, discrimination, a militarized zone, a bleak future. It also places the Palestinians behind a wall. There is no exit.
The right-of-center media (Artuz Shiva) uses the official government term, “Security Fence.” The left-of-center media (Haaretz) is using the more subtle language of “Separation Fence,” which does not recognize the security aspect. Rather, it connotes the future establishment of two neighboring states.
Leading U.S. and UK newspapers fluctuate between discussing it in terms of security and separation. The UK and U.S. media do not use the term “fence.” Rather, “barrier” and “wall” are used. There is an implied critique in the coupling of security and wall. The use of the “wall” is a Palestinian framing, implying a unilateral, illegitimate action. “Wall” also provides a sense of greater permanence. The use of the term “barrier” of both the Israeli Fence and Palestinian Wall.
More interestingly, the authors find that the choice of terms is determined not just by political leanings, but by current events and public mood. “Since sensitivity towards terminological usage is expected,” they write, “shifts in language may serve as strong indications for policy change. To draw those indicators, we compare two transcripts from meetings of the U.N. Security Council discussing the construction of the structure. The first, dated 14 October 2003, took place in midst of the Second Intifada, where hopes for reconciliation and advancement in the peace process were low. The second, dated July 2005, took place only a few weeks before the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza strip, and the atmosphere was charged with new hopes for peace.”
Click on the charts below to see graphic representations of their findings, which they summarize in the text:
Regardless of the political situation, or the rotation of the members of the Security Council, the majority frames the structure as a ‘wall.’ In October 2003, most of the Council’s members used ‘separation wall’ and ‘the wall.’ In an isolated cluster, the Palestinians used the term ‘expansionist wall,’ together with Yemen, Sudan, and the Organization of Islamic Conferences. Israel and Germany were the only countries using ‘security fence.’ The official U.N. term (derived from the briefing at the beginning of the transcript) is ‘the barrier’; the U.S. and the U.K. refer to ‘the fence’ (though the U.S. representative mentions ‘wall’ as well); the E.U., represented by Italy, employs ‘separation wall.’ Among the more poignant terms are the Palestinian ‘Bantustan walls,’ the Iranian ‘racist wall’ and the Saudi Arabian ‘racist wall of separation.’
In July 2005, however, the term ‘barrier’ becomes more popular, and the clustering around terms represents a sharper geographical division. The countries that cluster around ‘separation wall’ are mostly Middle Eastern, including the Palestinian representative. Europe clusters around ‘barrier’; other members speak of ‘the wall.’ The U.S. representative refrained from mentioning the structure. Israel is persistent yet alone in employing ‘security fence.’ A few Arab countries continue to use such terms as the ‘colonial separation wall’ (Syria), ‘expansionist wall’ (Kuwait) and ‘wall of injustice’ (Sudan). ‘Apartheid wall’ is introduced to the space by the Organization of Islamic Conferences (and not employed by the Palestinians). Following the same analytical angle of seeking non-mentions (as applied to the media space), here again we found that ‘fence’ is rejected by all of the Council’s members (except for
Israel), ‘wall’ is rejected by the ‘West,’ and adjectives other than ‘separation’ are less popular.