Why Do People Call Gaza an “Enclave”?

Insomnia brought me to my PC & Twitter, where I saw a status update which linked to a wonderful article about artists in Gaza.

For some reason, the word “enclave” struck me, so I looked up its definition at Merriam-Webster:

Definition of enclave

Listen to its brief podcast on the word and see the example sentences.

I also searched in Google for “Gaza Enclave.” There are 432,000 results! [Note, I restrict search results to English.]

Google Search -Gaza Enclave

When I do a Google search for the word “Enclave” excluding any results with “Gaza,” most of the first pages are links to a Buick sports utility vehicle named Enclave. There are also apartment and townhouse complexes, resorts, senior living, assisted living and nursing homes named “The Enclave.” Only on the 4th page of Google results does the first link to a geographical area appear. It is to the Serbian film Enklava.

On page 5, there’s a link to the Goodreads page for the dystopian young adult novel Enclave by Ann Aguirre.

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

On page 16, there’s a link to the computer game Enclave.

Enclave the Game on Steam

Enclave the Game Backstory

On page 17, I see a link to a Google Books page for The Enclave: A Play by Arthur Laurents, the writer of Broadway’s West Side Story.

I stopped looking at page 21 of the results. If you look further and find something interesting, let me know.

Assuming a Google search is a modern day equivalent of lexical data, it seems as if modern American marketing has changed the meaning of the word enclave to project comfort, protection and serenity.

The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English definition of enclave gives examples of geographical and ethnic uses of enclave.

Enclave Longman DictionaryBut this doesn’t apply to Gaza. Palestinians were the modern history’s original inhabitants of Gaza, and Palestine in general, and the only Palestinians who entered Gaza in the last century are those whom the Zionists drove out of other areas of Palestine. Furthermore, the Israeli and the Egyptian states severely restrict travel out of Gaza, so people are not choosing to gather there. Furthermore, other enclaves are not blockaded and subject to chronic violence at their borders and periodic bouts of massive air, sea and land bombardment killing hundreds and destroying factories, infrastructure and homes.

In fact, the closest contemporary use of “enclave” which corresponds to the reality of Occupied Gaza is from the worlds of dystopian novels and computer gaming.

Does journalism’s use of “enclave” to describe Gaza hide the reality of Israeli occupation and violence? I think so.


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