Absorption Issues

Many years ago, Misrad HaKlita, or HaMisrad L'Klitat Aliya, made an unfortunate choice by translating klita literally, as absorption. By today, most of us have probably become inured, desensitized, and no longer perceive it as inappropriate. But those with a "fresh" ear often cringe. Absorption??? they say; does Israel swallow me live and gradually absorb me by osmosis into its body?... "Absorbing", they say, is what a diaper, or nappy, or panty-liner or tampon does…

With the help of a colleague, I am actually trying to take on the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and convince them to drop that offensive word. No other country in the world "absorbs" its immigrants. They either welcome them or grudgingly let them in… they greet them and "process" them (yes, that's a mite distasteful, too…), accept them or ignore them, integrate them or shun them…

Example:

The Jerusalem Post 9 August 2007:

Israel, UN cooperate to stem tide of Sudanese refugees.
Officials seek countries to absorb Africans.

15 comments:

Fred King said...

Hey Nina! Welcome back, we DID miss you. Look forward to reading more of you...

Snowden said...

I think "integration" is as close as you can get. First time I heard that's what they call themselves in English, though.

Nina R. Davis said...

Thanks, fred king and snowden!
Yes, "integration" is not bad. If we got used to "Ministry of Immigrant Absorption", I'm sure we could happily get used to "Ministry of Immigrant Integration".

Jonquil said...

Maybe you can save us from the Gaza envelope before it's too late.

Nina R. Davis said...

LOL!
How come the Gaza envelope escaped me?...
Only yesterday did I have to translate something on the subject. Since it wasn't for a newspaper and I could afford to be long winded, I wrote something like "settlements around the Gaza Strip".

Plutarch said...

Great blog. First time I've visited. National Insurance contributions is precisely what we called them back in the old U of K.

Dr said...

"Naturalization" (replace "z" with "s" if you must) also comes to mind. "Absorption" is outright ridiculous; even "reception" (with lots of static) would've made more sense.
Congrats on your delightful new blog, Nina!

ADDeRabbi said...

Ministry of Immigrant Acculturation
Then they won't have to change their website (moia.gov.il)

Claire said...

In the U.S. I find "assimilation" as offensive as "absorption". Reminds me of the Borg dictum "You will be assimilated"!

It goes right along with the "melting pot" mentality (as opposed to Canada's "cultural mosaic").

I like that "integration" has the same root as "integrity" so you don't have to lose yourself by being an immigrant.

Ruchie said...

Love your new blog. Looks like it's gonna be one I consult regularly. Congrats!
I just came accross "Gaza perimeter communities" for 'otef aza' which may not be a bad solution. And also, for 'tseva adom' - "code red" not 'color red.

Jennifer said...

Love your blog, Nina! It's now part of my 'Favorites'....
As for "Absorption Issues", why not circumvent the problem altogether, namely why not simply call it The Ministry of Immigration or - as in Canada, for example - the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, or the Department of Immigration... Obviously the Ministry/Department is there to welcome or turn away immigrants and to process/review applications (NOT the applicants themselves)...
Jennifer Tommer

Fred King said...
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Fred King said...
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Fred King said...

First of all, Nina...welcome back! At the risk of embarrassing you, I'm so happy over you opening up this blog and giving us back our "national treasure" (not my words; someone else's as she once described you).

Down to business: What the heck is wrong with "absorbing" immigrants? If there's something objectionable about that word, sorry, I truly don't catch it. Someone please open my eyes here.

A Google search on 'absorb immigrants' returns a page with nine foreign web pages (including Oxford) that refer to countries absorbing immigrants (including the US and Ireland).

And the workarounds to avoid using the word 'absorption' seem quite contrived. "Absorption" is a direct, simple, and understandable word that seems to successfully describe what we do with immigrants.

I look forward to reading more entries on this blog. I've always found your content absorbing, and that's a positive thing.

Nina R. Davis said...

First of all, King Fred, thanks for the warm welcome! And for nudging me to start this blog.
As for absorption -- looks like it's here to stay, so enjoy it!
I feel the same as Claire, see Comment #9. I like Canada's Cultural Mosaic, too. Very artistic-sounding :-)

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