A farewell to "natural growth"

Out with the natural, in with the normal: Israel changes settlement lingo.

Settlement building 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
Settlement building 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Say good-bye to "natural growth" in the settlements. No, not because Israel has agreed to the very public US demand to freeze all construction in the settlements, including for natural growth. Rather, because Israeli spokespeople are now making a conscious decision to no longer use that term. Instead, they are preferring a more neutral-sounding phrase about construction that will allow for "normal life" in the settlements. The term "natural growth" has been overused in the last few months, and - according to Israeli officials - brings with it a negative connotation of Israel trying to pull the wool over the world's eyes when it comes to the settlements. Just as the term "Eretz Yisrael" does not just mean the "land of Israel," but is associated with a greater concept and has a deeper meaning than just those two words would suggest, so too - according to the officials - does the term "natural growth" bring to the listener a largely negative concept of Israel playing semantic tricks to increase the settlement population. It's a loaded term, the officials said, and one loaded with negative connotations. But, the officials said, construction in the settlements to enable a continuation of "normal life" is void of the negative associations, and simply sounds better. Also, if Israel eventually agrees to a freeze except for "natural growth," then if anyone moved to a home in a settlement who was not a returning son or daughter, or was not born there, then Israel could be accused of lying, since this type of movement is migration, not natural growth. However, "normal life" would seem to allow for the occasional family moving across the Green Line, because what is normal life if not some people moving in, and others moving out? Although no official directive has been given to Israel's spokesman to refrain from using the term "natural growth," it is understood by key spokespeople that "normal life" is now the preferred term. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, sources in his office have pointed out, has refrained from using the term "natural growth" since taking office in late March.