The US state of California has recognized borders with its adjacent states. Yet, if one were to apply what passes for logic in the Middle East, California would instead be referred to as being on the West Bank of the Mississippi. The name “West Bank” refers to the more historically accurate names of Judea and Samaria, where Jews have lived since biblical times. As for the headline-grabbing and much contested real West Bank, the Jordan River loses its banks well before it trickles into the Dead Sea.

Nevertheless, the media invention of the “West Bank of the Jordan” has captured the imagination of countless people whose knowledge of either geography or the Bible is minimal. This pervasive ignorance is now being extended to the latest human rights cause of the Middle East. No—not the daily slaughter in Syria or the ongoing violence between Sunnis and Shi’ites throughout the region—but a barren hilltop on the outskirts of Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.

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