The Israel Project says it has removed the term "ethnic cleansing" from an internal document discussing how to talk about the issue of Jewish settlements.
The provision in The Israel Project’s Global Language Dictionary had said that the "best" argument when someone brings up settlements — if changing the subject doesn’t work — is to "try accusing those who advocate removing Jewish settlements of promoting ‘a kind of ethnic cleansing to move all Jews’ from the West Bank."
That language had caused controversy last month, when J Street called the language "incendiary and dangerous" and urged its supporters to sign a petition telling that to TIP founder and president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi.
Mizrahi defended the use of the language at that time, saying that when Israel evacuated Gaza it "was ethnic cleansing" becaause "every Jew left Gaza, including the dead Jews," whose graves had to be moved. But Mizrahi said she decided to remove the term because it had been misinterpreted and called the use of the term "regrettable."
Some saw the term as an allusion to the Holocaust or other genocides, and "we never meant it that way," said Mizrahi. But "we understand how it could be interpreted, and we have to be sensitive to that."
She said that she was using the term to underline that "all people should have an equal right to live in different countries" and no one should be discriminated on the basis of his or her ethnic group.
And she noted positively that Palestinian leaders in recent weeks have stated that Jews would be free to live in a Palestinian state.
The controversy over the TIP document broke out early in July, but returned to the news in recent days when the Guardian newspaper printed an article noting the use of the term "ethnic cleansing," and Haaretz and other publications followed.