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Stateside: Bad Language

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

Bad Language

It’s the gaps between words that make them audible or visible, so silence is a part of language. Some silence is good; some bad. Perhaps inspired by many recent news items about the death of Harold Pinter and his use of silence in his plays, President Bush is MIA on the subject of Israel’s rocket attacks on Gaza, instead sending out a boy to do a man’s job of communicating with the press.

Is he cowering behind his Crawford Christmas tree because the “W” really does stand for wimp, or because he’s playing a game of chicken with the President-elect’s team so that anti-Obama commentary such as this at The Palestine Chronicle has plenty of time to take root? It’s hardly likely the President is scared the pool news reporters down in Crawford are going to throw their expensive shoes at him, but maybe there’s a bit of shoe-inspired vindictiveness in not appearing to take the attacks seriously.

It’s not like the Bush administration can’t have known it was coming. As this report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz shows, the Israeli government had been planning it for six months, all the while dissembling to the press.

::Child’s play::
The code name for the Israeli offensive—Cast Lead—comes from a poem about a children’s game played at Hanukkah, the holiday festival celebrated by those of Jewish faith around the world. This year, the dates of the celebration were from December 22-29. The object of the Dradel game is to end up with all the other players’ candy coins, which are called gelt.

A Yiddish word meaning recompense, “gelt” is derived from Old German—English-speakers know the word as the past tense or past participle of “geld”, which is defined at as: 1. To castrate (a horse, for example); 2. To deprive of strength or vigor; weaken. As a noun, it means a tax paid to the crown by English landholders under Anglo-Saxon and Norman kings. So many layers of meaning in the current context!

“Dradel” means “spin”. Which begs the fundamental question, is the Israeli government spinning this operation as child’s play?



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