A Quick Lesson on the Use of Metaphors

Response to Sun-Times’ “Pulling up Stakes Doesn’t Mean Israelis are Settling for Less”

In the August 24, 2005 article, Pulling up Stakes Doesn’t Mean Israelis are Settling for Less, Gerald D. Skoning gave a rather weak and disturbing metaphor for the Israeli government’s eviction of Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip. The removal of settlers is compared to the American frontiers and the influx of immigrants to the United States during the 1900s and earlier by Skoning. Not only is the situation of immigrants to the U.S. and immigrants to the Israeli settlements completely different, but to say that the settlers of Israel should be “praised for their courage and determination” is a statement worth shuddering over.

The movement of Jewish immigrants into the Gaza Strip and other occupied territories was illegal in the first place under the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention—in that no occupying power is allowed to settle its own civilian population in the territory it occupies. So, one can say that the Israeli government is doing nothing more than upholding international law which should have been done when the migration of Jews was at its peak.

Skoning mentioned the perseverance of the Jewish people in the settlements to withstand the attacks of Palestinian terrorists, yet not once did he mention the extreme violence used by the settlers not occasionally, but on a daily basis towards Palestinians. Those settlements were often homes to internationally known terrorist groups that engaged in torturous hate crime against Palestinians. To compare the journey and bravery of Irish, Scots, and other immigrant groups in the U.S. to the Jewish settlers in Israel is not only a far stretch but it is offensive.

I suppose if Skoning wants to play the metaphor game, it can be done from a different standpoint. Perhaps the frustration and anguish of the Palestinian people should be compared to the struggle of the Native Americans of the U.S. It is true that none of us would be residing within the parameters of the United States if were not for hardworking immigrants who made their home here, but is it not just to say that the first immigrants to walk this land treated the Native Americans inhumanly? And would it not be honest to say that the Native Americans have every right to the land of America as much or more than any immigrant group in the U.S.?

Instead of insinuating that looking at the hypothetical situation of the U.S government giving land that immigrants won over Native Americans back to the natives as a negative one, it should also be looked upon as an unrealistically fair one. The Jewish settlers of Gaza did not have to face battle or hardship to obtain a very healthy piece of land in the occupied territories; rather it was given to them. There was no battle or war to be fought as there was in America to obtain land. But the hardships of the Native Americans being pushed off their land unto reservations can be compared to the Palestinians that were kicked out of their homes and forced into refugee camps. Metaphors should be used cautiously, and perhaps Skoning should leave the literary tool to be used by poets and songwriters rather than in a political commentary.