History and Security in the Middle East course glossary

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MIDDLE EAST Security Analyst Course




An abbreviation used in the Islamic calendar to denote dates that occur “After Hijra.” Hijra means “migration” in Arabic, and refers to the Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E., in the 12th year of his mission, which represents the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

More about Jijra


To put an end to, as, for instance, a government reversing a previous policy.


The law that states that land that was abandoned by Arabs in Palestine before the creation of the State of Israel, now belongs to the State of Israel.

ABU MAZEN (Mahmoud Abbas)

Following the death of Yasser Arafat, Abbas was elected President of the Palestinian Authority on January 9, 2005, with 62% of the vote. He was sworn in on the 15th.


An agreement drawn up by Abu Mazen of the PLO and Israeli deputy FM Yossi Beilin. The plan proposed Israel’s annexation of 4 to 5% of the West Bank and transfer of Israeli territory to form a Palestinian state. Abu-Dis, an Arab neighborhood in Jerusalem was to be the capital of the new state.

Abu Simbel

Two temples located close to the border between Sudan and Egypt. They were constructed in the 13th century B.C.E. during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II.


(Arabic) A call to prayer for Muslims made five times a day. It is traditionally shouted by a man from a minaret (spire) of a mosque (a muezzin or muadhdhin in Arabic), but today is often broadcast from loudspeakers.


When a prisoner is arrested and kept without trial or charge for up to six months.


(Arabic, “The truth or the right”). Ramallah-based Palestinian human rights organization founded in 1979 under the name Law in the Service of Man.

Al Qaeda

An Arabic term meaning “the base,” al Qaeda is an international radical Islamist network that uses terrorist methods to pursue its goals. Al Qaeda was founded in the late 1980s by Osama bin Laden and Muhammad Atef.


(Arabic, “The holy”). Arabic name for Jerusalem.


(“Hope”). A Shi’ah political movement cum-militia. It developed originally as the military arm of the Movement of the Disinherited, the radical organization formed by Imam Musa al-Sadr, the religious leader who transformed Lebanon’s Shi’ah politics in the 1970s. After his disappearance, he was replaced by Nabih al-Beri and the movement was taken over by al-Amal.


An uprising by the Palestinians, sometimes called the second intifada, which escalated into a war. The Palestinians blame a visit by Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount in September 2000 for sparking the violence, but the Palestinian Authority Communications Minister admitted the uprising had been planned after the failure of the Camp David summit in July 2000.


Third holiest shrine in the Muslim world, situated on the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif) in Jerusalem.

ALAWIS (or Nusayris)

A Muslim sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam. Most of the Alawis live in Syria, where they form some 12 percent of the population. Once a marginal, rural, underprivileged community, Syrian Alawis have undergone a dramatic transformation in the past twenty years as members of the community advanced through the army and the Ba’thi party to positions of dominance (including the current President Hafez Assad).


Meaning “of Ali” in Arabic, the Alawites are a sect of Shii Muslims who live in Syria. Alawites consider themselves Muslim, though they incorporate tenets that fall outside orthodox Islam. Foremost among these is a belief that Ali, the son in law of the Prophet Muhammad, was an incarnation of the deity and that praying in the name of Ali is the only way to communicate with Allah. Many members of the ruling political party of Syria are Alawites, including President Bashar al Assad. Alawites also live in parts of Turkey and Lebanon.

ALIYA (or aliyah)

(Heb., “going up”) -A term used in Judaism especially for immigration to the land of Israel. Aliya can also be used for “going up” to the altar (bema) to read from Torah.


The Arabic term for God. The word was used for local gods in Arabia before Muhammad began to use it for the one God that revealed His messages to him. Arab Christians and Jews also use the term. Arabs frequently use the word inshallah, meaning “if God wills,” which suggests that whatever happens in life will be a result of God’s will.


(Arabic) “God is great,” “God is the greatest.”


International Jewish organization, founded in Paris, 1860, to protect Jewish rights as citizens and to promote education and professional development among Jews around the world.


A plan devised by Yigal Allon after the Six Day War that involved a partial withdrawal from the disputed territories. Adopted by the Israeli government in 1968.


alternative fuels

Fuels that are used in place of petroleum based fuels such as gasoline and diesel. The U.S. Department of Energy classifies the following fuels as “alternative fuels”: biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, methanol, natural gas, propane, p series, and solar energy.


(popularly known as the JDC or the “Joint”). American Jewry’s overseas relief and rehabilitation agency founded in 1914.


(Arabic). Leader, commander. (Hebrew) Mighty, strong, sheaf of corn. Used as a name.


Capital city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.


Literally means “catastrophe.” The Muslim name for Israeli Independence Day. – Nahal – (Hebrew for river, riverbed) A regular unit of the Israel Defense Forces training cadres for agricultural settlements.


The large peninsular region of Turkey, bordered by the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and constituting the westernmost point of Asia; also known as Asia Minor.

Anglo Iranian Oil Company (AIOC)

Founded in 1909 following the discovery of a large oil field in Masjet Soleiman, in Iran, the company was originally called the Anglo Persian Oil Company (APOC). In 1913, the company was granted a license to search for, refine, produce, and export oil. It was renamed the Anglo Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) in 1935.


One who believes in animism, a belief that creatures, objects, and natural phenomena are inhabited by spirits.

Anti Semitic

Discriminatory against a Jewish individual, the Jewish people as a group, Judaism as a religion, or a Jewish institution, such as a government.


Israel has one of the broadest anti-discrimination laws of any country. The law prohibits discrimination of the basis of sex, marital status, sexual orientation, race, religion, political beliefs, and age.

ANTI-SEMITISM (antisemitism)

Literally means opposed to Semites (which would include Arabic and other semitic peoples as well), but usually applied specifically to opposition to Jews (anti-Judaism).


An underground layer of earth or rocks that produces water.


Formally declared by the newly formed Arab League Council on December 2, 1945. The boycott consists of the primary boycott, which prohibits direct trade between Israel and the Arab nations, the secondary boycott, which is directed at companies that do business with Israel and the tertiary boycott, which involves the blacklisting of firms that trade with other companies that do business with Israel.


Radical group established in 1945 by Arab League that represented Palestinian Arab interests, rejecting all compromise on rights of Jews to Eretz Yisrael.


The League of Arab States or Arab League was formed in Cairo March 22, 1945, for the purpose of securing Arab unity. Today, the League has 22 members.


Those countries where Arabic is the principal language spoken. Islamic nations are those non-Arabic speaking countries where Islam is the dominant religion and often the source of the government’s legitimacy. All the Arab nations have Islam as their official religion. This book focuses on one Islamic nation, Iran, and the Arab nations of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen. Other Arab states in the Middle East are Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates.


The Arab uprising from 1916-1920 against the Ottoman Empire.

Arable land

Land fit for cultivation.

ARAFAT, YASSER (1929-2004)

Arafat is a symbol of the Palestinian national movement. He directed high-profile terrorist attacks in order to gain international attention and sympathy for the Palestinian cause. In 1994, he became the leader of the newly formed Palestinian Authority, created by the Oslo Accords. On January 20, 1996, he was elected president of the PA, and although he was only supposed to serve for three years, no other presidential elections were held until his death. In the Camp David negotiations in 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Barak offered the Palestinians the most generous peace proposal to date, which he rejected. Both the United States and Israel were of the opinion that in order for the peace process to continue, Arafat needed to be replaced. Under international pressure, Arafat appointed Abu Mazen as Prime Minister of the PA, but did not yield any power to him. After being ill for many years, Yasser Arafat died on November 11, 2004. His unwillingness to seriously work towards peace brought his people decades of suffering and prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state.


(“steppe,” “desert”). a stretch of depressed ground between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Eilat.


The Oslo II agreement signed by Israel and the Palestinians in 1995 divided the West Bank into three areas. Area A is controlled by the Palestinian Authority; Area B is under joint Palestinian/Israeli control; Area C is under Israeli control.


A temporary cessation of fighting by mutual agreement between the hostile parties.


Israel’s War of Independence ended in July 1949 by armistice (cease fire) agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.


Established in February 1968. Considered the second largest PLO guerrilla organization, it has almost no presence outside of Syria/Lebanon. The group is based in Damascus. The group is backed by Syria and opposes peace with Israel.


The principles and practices of strict and austere self discipline, both physical and spiritual, motivated by religious devotion. The doctrine holds that an ascetic lifestyle releases the soul from its bondage to the body, permitting union with the divine.


(adj. Ashkenazic). The term now used for Jews who derive from northern Europe and who generally follow the customs originating in medieval German Judaism, in contradistinction to Sephardic Judaism, which has its distinctive roots in Spain and the Mediterranean (see Sephardim). Originally the designation Ashkenaz referred to a people and country bordering on Armenia and the upper Euphrates; in medieval times, it came to refer to the Jewish area of settlement in northwest Europe (northern France and western Germany). By extension, it now refers to Jews of northern and eastern European background (including Russia) with their distinctive liturgical practices or religious and social customs.

Asia Minor

The peninsula of western Asia bordered by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and the Aegean Sea to the west; the Turkish region of Anatolia.


(Arabic) Standard Muslim greeting that means “Peace be upon you.” It is usually answered with “Wa ‘alaikumus salam,” which means, “And upon you is the peace.”


The gradual process by which a minority group takes on the characteristics, including customs and attitudes, of the prevailing culture in which it lives.


The largest civil rights organization in Israel, which was founded in 1972.

Aswan High Dam

A large dam on the Nile River in southern Egypt completed in 1970 which provides irrigation and electricity to most of Egypt and forms one of the world’s largest manmade reservoirs, Lake Nasser. The original Aswan Dam was built and completed by the British in 1902 about four miles downstream from where the Aswan High Dam is located today.


A form of government in which a single person possesses unlimited political power; despotism.


The right of a nation to govern itself; independence.


At the time Israel and Egypt were negotiating a peace treaty, Israel opposed the creation of a Palestinian state and proposed instead, as part of the Camp David Accords, to give Palestinians in the disputed territories control over most of their affairs (security and foreign policy were exceptions), while Israel retained control over the land. The transfer of power was to take place during a five-year transition period. By the thrid year, negotiations were to begin on the final status of the territories. The Palestinians rejected the plan and it was never implemented.


An honorific title of honor given to outstanding jurists of the Shiite sect of Islam. The word is derived from the Arabic term Ayat Allah, meaning “miraculous sign of God.” The title has primarily been used in Iran, where it also is associated with political leadership. The Ayatollah Khomeini was the spiritual leader and founder of Iran’s Islamic Republic.



An abbreviation used to denote dates that occurred “Before the Common Era” as a more neutral alternative to the “B.C.” (“Before Christ”) of the Christian calendar.


World’s oldest and largest Jewish organization, founded in 1843 in New York, concerned with protecting Jewish interests around the world.


Founded in 1989 by a group of Knesset members, public figures, lawyers, academics, and journalists to protect human rights in the disputed territories.

Ba’ath Party

Ruling Arab political party in Syria and Iraq; its main ideological objectives are secularism, socialism, and pan


(“renaissance”). A Pan-Arab socialist party with branches in several Arab countries, most notably Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. The party emerged during World War II, was formally established in 1947 and has been influential in Arab politics since the early 1950s.


Statement issued by the British Government, 1917 supporting the establishment of a “Jewish national home in Palestine”, named for Lord Balfour who signed it on Britain’s behalf.

BARAK, EHUD (1942- )

In April 1991, Barak was appointed the 14th Chief of the General Staff and was promoted to the highest rank in the Israeli Military, that of Lt. General. He served as Minister of the Interior from July to November 1995, and as Minister of Foreign Affairs from November 1995 until June 1996. In that same year, he was elected Chairman of the Labor Party and formed the One Israel Party in 1999. On May 17, 1999, he became Prime Minister of Israel and Minister of Defense. In 2001’s special election, he was defeated by Ariel Sharon.

Battle of Manzikert

A decisive battle in 1071 in which the Seljuk Turks, under Sultan Alp Arslan, routed the forces of Byzantine emperor Romanus IV, resulting in the fall of Asia Minor to the Seljuks.


Nomadic Arabs who originally inhabited desert areas of the Middle East and northern Africa and later began to move to other parts of the region. Most Bedouins today are settled and many live in urban settings. Virtually all are Muslims.

BEGIN, MENACHEM (1913-1992)

Elected Prime Minister in 1977, he negotiated on behalf of Israel in the Camp David Accords and signed the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. He resigned as Prime Minister in the winter of 1982, after the death of his wife, and spent the rest of his life out of the public eye. He died on March 9, 1992, and was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.


The capital of Lebanon.


(1886-1973). Led the struggle to establish the State of Israel and became its first Prime Minister and Defense Minister in May 1948. He served from 1948 until 1954 and from 1955 until 1963. He was an integral part of the development of Israel in its early years, and led the country in the 1956 Sinai campaign. Ben-Gurion died in 1973.


Zionist youth movement established 1923, emphasizing Hebrew language, culture, and self-defense. Motivated by ideologies of Jabotinsky and Trumpeldor, with goal of Jewish state “on both sides of the Jordan.” Name, acronym for “Brit Trumpeldor,” also after ancient fortress of Bar Kokhba.


A governor of a province in the Ottoman Empire; an Egyptian or Turkish title for a dignitary.


From the Greek word meaning “book.” Composed of two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Bible contains the sacred scriptures of both the Jewish and the Christian religions. The Old Testament is the basis for Judaism, while both the Old and New Testaments are sacred to Christianity.


The first Palestinian university in the West Bank.


The name given to the armed conflict in September 1970 that occurred after Palestinians living in Jordan threatened the regime and provoked King Hussein to attack the PLO. The PLO was routed and thousands of Palestinians fled to Lebanon. Later a terrorist faction of the PLO took the name Black September.


An allegation, recurring during the thirteenth through sixteenth centuries, that Jews were killing Christian children to use their blood for the ritual of making unleavened bread (matzah). A red mold which occasionally appeared on the matzah started this myth.


After World War I, Britain and France were awarded “mandates” from the League of Nations to administer areas captured from the Ottoman Empire. The British ruled Palestine under the mandate from July 24, 1922, to May 15, 1948.


A system characterized by hierarchies of authority and strict adherence to rules of operation. The term is most often used in reference to government.


A loose fitting, full length robe traditionally worn by women in conservative Muslim societies. The garment is worn with a veil and mask so as to cover the entire body except for the eyes.


Term used by the Oslo accords for roads used by Israel to connect settlements to one another.



An abbreviation used to denote dates that occur within the “Common Era,” as a more neutral alternative to the “A.D.” of the Christian calendar.


A group of officials appointed by a chief of state or prime minister to serve as advisors and heads of executive departments.


An agreement reached in November 1969 between the Supreme Commander of the Lebanese Army and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in an effort to regulate the relationship between the Lebanese government and the PLO, and the latter’s activity in and from Lebanon.


Comes from the Arabic word for successor, khalifa, and refers to a vice-regent of God. The early successors to Muhammad had a moral authority based on their relationship to the Prophet.


Summit held in July 2000 attended by President Clinton, Prime Minister Barak and PLO Chairman Arafat, which aimed to reach a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel offered to withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip, from 97 percent of the West Bank, dismantle isolated settlements, and agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem. Arafat rejected the offer.


Peace agreement reached between Israel and Egypt, the first between Israel and an Arab neighbor, signed in March 1979. Called for normalization of relations and return of the Sinai to Egypt. It also included the framework of a Palestinian Autonomy Plan.


The act of surrendering under an agreed upon set of conditions; the agreement setting out those conditions.


Christian supporters of Israel whose support is based on a literal reading of the Book of Revelation that talks of the need for the ingathering of Jews before the Second Coming of Christ can occur.


In the 4th century, Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine and a convert to Christianity, traveled to Palestine and identified the location of the crucifixion; her son then built a magnificent church, which is revered by Christians as the site of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.


A member of the clergy.

Coalition government

In a parliamentary democracy, a government formed from a temporary alliance between two or more political parties in order to make up a ruling majority; usually formed only when no single party holds a majority.

Cold War

A state of political tension and military rivalry between countries that stops short of fullscale war; especially that which existed between the United States and the Soviet Union following World War II through the end of the 1980s.


A policy whereby the government of one nation occupies, militarily controls, and governs the native population of another, usually by minority rule.


Something of value, such as a tract of land or drilling rights, granted or sold by a government to another entity, often a company, for its own use for a specific purpose.


A modern development in Judaism, reacting to early Jewish Reform movements in an attempt to retain clearer links to classical Jewish law while at the same time adapting it to modern situations. Its scholarly center in the U.S. is the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

constitutional monarchy

A form of government in which the head of state is a monarch whose ruling powers are restricted to those specifically granted under the constitution and laws of the country.


The Afro Asiatic language of the Copts, which survives only as a liturgical language of the Coptic Church; of or relating to the Copts, the Coptic Church, or the Coptic language.


Term used in the 1947 UN Partition Plan to describe the proposed independent status of Jerusalem that would not be the exclusive property of either the proposed Arab or Jewish state. The plan also called for a referendum on the city’s status after 10 years.


Short for “coup d’Ètat,” a French phrase that means literally “stroke of state,” referring to the sudden and illegal overthrow of a government by a group of people who substitute themselves as the ruling power.

Crimean War

A conflict beginning in the early 1850s that pitted the allied forces of Great Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia against Russia. One of the causes involved a dispute between Russia and France over stewardship of the holy sites of Palestine. Following Russian invasions in Romania and Turkey in 1853, Great Britain and France entered the war in 1854 primarily out of strategic interest in defending the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits, which separate the European from the Asian region of Turkey. The war ended with Russia’s surrender in 1856.


A series of eight military campaigns fought by Western European Christians from 1095-1291 in an effort to recapture the Holy Land from the Muslims. The word was later used to describe Christian wars against non-Christians.

cultured pearl

Though also grown inside a living mollusk like a natural pearl, a cultured pearl begins with an artificially inserted object, such as a mother of pearl bead, rather than an incidental intruder to the shell. Over time the bead becomes coated with layers of a secreted substance called nacre, eventually resulting in a pearl that can then be harvested from the shell.


An office set up soon after the creation of the State of Israel to handle the property of Palestinians who fled the proposed Jewish state before and during the 1948 war.


Relating to the autocratic system of government under the czars in imperial Russia, which came to an end with the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917; a person supportive of the czar or czarism.



Capital city of Syria.


(Arabic) House of War. The outside world, which has not yet been subjugated, and is in a perpetual state of jihad, of holy war. The law also provided that the jihad might be interrupted by truces as and when appropriate.


(Arabic) House of Islam. Those lands in which a Muslim government rules and the Holy Law of Islam prevails. Non-Muslims may live there on Muslim sufferance.

Dark Ages

A period of chaos, destruction, and rebuilding that lasted from the fall of Rome in 476 C.E. to the emergence of stable Germanic kingdoms in the ninth century. Specifically, the Dark Ages are often said to have ended in 800 C.E., when Charlemagne was crowned the first Holy Roman Emperor.


Dati is religious/observant, lo dati is not religious/observant, as used in current Hebrew in Israel, but it is a black and white distinction, meaning Orthodox and not Orthodox.


Proclamation read in Tel Aviv by David Ben Gurion on May 14, 1948, declaring Eretz Yisrael, the historical and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people, an independent state, to be known as the State of Israel.


Agreement signed September 13, 1993, between Israel and the P.L.O., affirming mutual recognition and legitimacy. The P.L.O. agreed to end the intifada and terrorist activity and to amend its charter calling for the destruction of Israel. Israel agreed to grant the P.L.O. civil autonomy over the majority of Gaza and the West Bank.


The methods of a leader who gains power over people through impassioned appeals to their emotions and prejudices.


A system of government based on principles of social equality and majority rule where political power is exercised either by the people directly or through elected representatives.


Split from the Popular Democratic front of the Liberation of Palestine in 1969. Believes in socialism. This group is now part of the PLO executive committee.


Israel’s population on its 57th birthday was 6.9 million, an 8.5-fold increase since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, when the population numbered 806,000. Some 76 percent (5,260,000) are Jewish, while 20 percent (1,350,000) are Arab. Another 290,000 of Israel’s residents are immigrants whose roots are not listed as Jewish, comprising 4 percent of the population.


To remove a leader from office or power, sometimes through use of force.

desalination (desalinization)

The process of removing salt from saltwater to produce water suitable for humans to drink.


New Israeli towns established to provide for urban growth, but essentially to house immigrants since 1950’s, succeeding the ma’abarah, transitional camp, which had been widely used since 1948. Its goal was to offer communities both homes and employment opportunities, although it often did not succeed in raising initial lower economic status; used primarily for immigrants of Sephardi and eastern origin.


Muslims had a special respect for People of the Book, Jews and Christians, because they accepted Moses and Jesus as prophets. These minorities were therefore given special status in Muslim countries as protected persons. The concept of the “dhimma” (“writ of protection”) was introduced, which gave the dhimmis certain rights denied other minorities and conquered peoples, but still made clear they were viewed as inferior to their masters.


(Greek “scattering”). Often used to refer to the Jewish communities living among the gentiles outside of the Land of Israel. In recent years, Palestinians began using the term to refer to Palestinians living outside Palestine. The largest Jewish diaspora communities are in the United States, Russia, and France.


The reduction or elimination of a country’s military forces and weaponry.


Refers to Jordan’s legal disengagement from the West Bank on July 31, 1988, and Israel’s plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four Israeli settlements in Samaria in 2005.


June 1, 2001 – suicide bomber blows himself up outside the Dolphinarium disco outside Tel Aviv, killing 21 people and wounding 120 others. Most of the victims were Russian teenagers who had recently immigrated to Israel.


(Arabic, Qubbat al-Sakhra). Shrine erected in 691 on the spot where Muslims believe Muhammed ascended to Heaven during his Night Journey to Jerusalem. The Rock also refers to the spot where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Jews believe the Dome is also built on the site of the Jewish Temple.


A Muslim sect that live primarily in Lebanon, southern Syria, and northern Israel. The basis of the Druze religion is the belief that at various times God has been divinely incarnated in a living person and that his last, and final, such incarnation was al-Hakim, the sixth Fatimid caliph, who announced himself at Cairo about 1016 as the earthly incarnation of God. The Druze believe in one God. The Druze do not pray in a mosque and are secretive about the tenets of their religion.


Unit of land area (1,000 sq. meters., approximately 1/4 acre).


A family that retains political power over several generations.



The land east of the Jordan River that is a part of Jordan.


Part of Jerusalem occupied by Jordan from 1948 until 1967. Israeli law was extended to East Jerusalem in 1982. It is now considered part of the unified capital of Israel. This area of the city contains many sites of importance to the Jewish religion, including the City of David, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. Major institutions such as Hebrew University and the original Hadassah Hospital are on Mount Scopus – in eastern Jerusalem. The population of East Jerusalem is predominantly Arab. After the Six-Day War, Arab residents were given the choice of whether to become Israeli citizens. Most chose to retain their Jordanian citizenship, but all who chose Israel citizenship have been granted freedom of speech, religion, press, and the right to vote.


A decree or command issued by a political leader that carries the force of law.


A suspension of trade between between two countries imposed by one government upon the other, often with respect to a particular commodity.


A nation or territory ruled by an emir; the office of an emir.

Eretz Israel

A Hebrew phrase meaning “Land of Israel.” According to Jewish doctrine, it refers to the Palestinian land promised to the Jews by God.


(Heb., “land of Israel”). In Jewish thought, the special term for the area believed to have been promised to the Jewish people by God in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible).


Major checkpoint through which Palestinians must pass to enter Israel from Gaza.

ESHKOL, LEVI (1895-1969)

Israel’s first Director General of the Ministry of Defense. Eshkol was appointed Minister of Agriculture and Development in 1951, served as Minister of Finance from 1952 until 1963, when he became Prime Minister. He led Israel to victory in the Six Day War of June 1967, and died in office on February 26, 1969, of a heart attack.

ethnic cleansing

The systematic elimination of a particular ethnic group from a region or society, by means including deportation, forced emigration, or genocide.


Economic union of 25 European countries.


A person appointed to maintain close contact between all parties involved in the Middle East Peace Process and working with them to bring them closer together.


A departure on a large scale, particularly in reference to the Israelites’ migration from Egypt under the leadership of Moses, as recounted in the Old Testament book of Exodus.



A group of people forming a cohesive, usually contentious, minority within a larger group.


Proposed by Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia in August of 1981. The eight point plan called for called for the creation of a Palestinian state and Arab recognition of Israel’s right to exist.


A common Middle Eastern food made from seasoned ground chickpeas formed into balls and fried; a sandwich made from this food.


The largest and most important of the organizations that make up the PLO. Fatah, which means “conquest” in Arabic, was founded in secret in the late 1950s and appeared publicly on the scene in 1965. In 1968 it took over the PLO, and its leader, Yasser Arafat became the organization’s chairman.

FATEH Revolutionary Council

Group that split off from Fateh in 1974 and was then expelled from the PLO. The group is anti-Arafat, believes he is not tough enough. Believed to be behind the assassinations of several PLO moderates.

FATEH Uprising

Splinter group from Fateh established in 1983 by Sa’ed Musa Muragha in response to Arafat’s corruption and the situation in Lebanon. This group opposes any political contract with Israel.


(Arabic). A legal opinion or ruling issued by an Islamic scholar.


(Arabic, “one who sacrifices himself,” pl. fedayeen). In 1955, Egyptian President Nasser introduced a new form of warfare to the Arab-Israeli conflict, terrorists called fedayeen. Nasser trained and equipped the fedayeen to engage in hostile action on the border and infiltrate Israel to commit acts of sabotage and murder. The fedayeen operated mainly from bases in Jordan so that country would bear the brunt of Israel’s retaliation, which inevitably followed. The terrorist attacks violated the armistice agreement provision that prohibited the initiation of hostilities by paramilitary forces.


(plural fellaheen) An Arab peasant or laborer.


The crescent-shaped region stretching along the Mediterranean coast from Asia to southern Palestine. It includes parts of what is today Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.


A hat usually made out of red felt, with a tassel. The hat is traditionally worn by men in eastern Mediterranean countries.


Peace proposal at the Arab League summit in Fez, Morocco in September 1981. The plan offered recognition of Israel in exchange for unilateral withdrawal from all “occupied lands”, the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and the recognition of the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people.

FIDA (Palestinian Democratic Union)

Broke off from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Envisions a democratic system of government and supports the Oslo process.


Issues listed in the Oslo Accords that were to be negotiated after a period of normalization between Israelis and Palestinians. The principal issues are Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, and borders.

FIRST TEMPLE PERIOD (ca. 850 – 586 B.C.)

Ended with destruction of the First Temple and exile of the Hebrews.


Ritual obligations of Muslims – Recite the profession of faith – “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God” – each day; pray five times a day; Pay a tax (zakat or “purification”) for the poor; refrain from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from daybreak to sunset during the month of Ramadan and make the pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.

Fourteen Points Proposal

A proposal for ending World War I put forward by U.S. president Woodrow WiIson in a speech to Congress on January 8, 1918. In it, Wilson established the basis of a peace treaty and the foundation for the League of Nations.


(Convention that provides for the protection of civilians in time of war. Israel has argued that this convention does not apply to the Occupied Territories since they were never part of a sovereign state with legal and political claims over the region.

Free Officers’ Coup

A political upheaval resulting in the overthrow of Egypt’s monarchy under King Faruq in July 1952. A secret Egyptian military group called the Society of Free Officers, led by Gamal Abd al Nasser, believed the monarchy to be under the control of the British government, and after forcing the king’s abdication assumed control of government.


A term originally applied to conservative, Bible-centered Protestant Christians (many of whom now prefer to call themselves “evangelicals”), but more recently extended to apply to the religiously authoritarian of all sorts (including classical Christians, Jews, and Muslims) who interpret their scriptures literally and in general favor a strict adherence to certain traditional doctrines and practices.



An angel or archangel from Jewish tradition who is closely associated with the virgin birth in Christianity, and with the revelation of the Quran in Islam.


A distinctive style or form of clothing; dress.


Narrow, 25-mile long strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea that Israel captured from Egypt in the 1967 War. One of the most densely populated areas in the world, the 140 square-mile area is home to more than one million Palestinian Arabs. Since Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, no Jews live in the area.


May 4, 1994, agreement implementing Israel’s withdrawal of forces from the Gaza Strip and Jericho. The agreement detailed various aspects of Palestinian self-rule, including the respective roles of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian police force, as well as border arrangements. The Cairo Agreement was superseded by the Interim Agreement (“Oslo II”) of September 28, 1995.


General Zionism was initially the term used for the beliefs of all members of the Zionist Organization who had not joined a specific faction or party. Over the years, the General Zionists came to view the primacy of Zionism over any class, party, or personal interest.


Conference for Middle East peace in December 1973 in Geneva. The conference was attended by Egypt, Israel, the United States, the Soviet Union, Jordan and the United Nations.


Militarily and strategically important region that Israel captured from Syria in the Six-Day War and annexed in 1981. Prior to 1967, Syria terrorized Israeli farmers in the Galilee by shelling them from the Heights. Archaeological evidence shows an ancient Jewish presence on the Golan Heights.

Gold standard

A monetary standard under which the basic unit of currency is defined by a stated quantity of gold.


An old fashioned record player. Originally a trademark name.


King Abdullah advocated the union of Transjordan, Iraq (where his brother had been king), Syria, and Lebanon into a Greater Syria, under his control. Syrian leaders flirted with the idea as well, causing dissension within that country. In more recent times, the term has referred to the purely Syrian desire to annex Lebanon and to control Jordan and Palestine.


This was the demarcation between the 1967 borders of Israel and the West Bank territories captured in the defensive Six-Day War. Although usually referred to as the “1967 border,” it actually is the 1949 armistice line, as there was no internationally recognized border at the time. The reference came about because someone used a green pen on the map of the armistice agreement with Jordan to draw the border.

Gross domestic product (GDP)

The value of all the goods and services produced within the borders of a nation in a given year.


Fresh water found under the surface of the Earth (usually in aquifers) that often supplies wells and springs. Also referred to as underground water and subsurface water.

Guerrilla (also guerilla)

A member of an unofficial military group. Guerrilla groups generally operate in small bands. Mode of warfare is typically sudden, unexpected attacks on the official army forces.

Gulf States

The countries bordering the Persian Gulf: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates.


(Bloc of the Faithful). Israeli religious group that believes the “Greater Land of Israel” is the fulfillment of the Zionist dream and a step in the redemption process and, therefore, opposes the return of territory captured by Israel in Six Day War.



Zionist socialist pioneering youth movement founded in 1916 in Vienna, which eventually spread around the world.


A leading independent newspaper in Israel generally considered to the left of the political spectrum.


Jewish women’s Zionist organization headquartered in the United States.


A report of the sayings or actions of Muhammad or his companions, together with the tradition of its chain of transmission.


Clandestine Jewish organization for armed self-defense in Palestine under the British Mandate that eventually became the nucleus of the Israel Defense Forces.


The fifth pillar of Islam is a journey to Mecca. A Muslim is expected to make this pilgrimage at least once in a lifetime. Pilgrims go through a process of ritual purification and don a white robe, an ihram, which will ultimately be their burial shroud. Among the rites performed during the hajj, is circling the Kaaba (a building containing a sacred Black Stone) seven times.


Lieutenant-General, 18th IDF Chief of General Staff.


Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, a fundamentalist group that rejects all discussion of peace with Israel, including the current Israeli-PLO negotiations. Responsible for many terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and Palestinian so-called “collaborators” with Israel, Hamas states in its covenant that “[t]he Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees.” Recent evidence has indicated that Hamas carries out substantial fundraising and organizational work in the United States. On December 28, 2002, Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin is quoted in Al-Ayyam as saying, “The jihad and suicide bombings will continue – the Zionist entity will reach its end in the first quarter of the current century. It is therefore up to you [Muslim holy fighters] to be patient – the Hamas takes upon itself the liberation of all Palestinian land from the sea to the river in the Rafah [in the south] and until Rosh Hanikra [in the north].”


Literally means the “Noble Sanctuary”. Refers to the area that the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque stand on. This is also the area where the Jewish Temple stood.


Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel.


The section of a house set apart for the women of the family in a Muslim home.


Country bordered on the north by Syria and on the west by Israel and the West Bank. Called Transjordan from 1921-1950. In 1948, approximately 100,000 Palestinians crossed into Jordan. This number multiplied rapidly, and as of the end of 2003, 1.7 million registered Palestinian refugees live in Jordan, 307,785 of which are accommodated by the ten official Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan.


The source of water for a river.


July 31, 2002 – Nine people – four Israelis and five foreign nationals – were killed and 85 injured, 14 of them seriously, when a bomb exploded in the Frank Sinatra student center cafeteria on the Hebrew University’s Mt. Scopus campus. The explosive device was planted inside the cafeteria, which was gutted by the explosion. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The victims – David Diego Ladowski, 29, of Jerusalem; Levina Shapira, 53, of Jerusalem; Marla Bennett, 24, of California (US); Benjamin Blutstein, 25, of Pennsylvania (US); Dina Carter, 37, of Jerusalem (US); Janis Ruth Coulter, 36, of Massachusetts (US); David Gritz, 24, of Jerusalem (US-France). Daphna Spruch, 61, of Jerusalem died of her wounds on August 10. Revital Barashi, 30, died of her wounds on August 13.


Agreement reached on January 15, 1997, in which Israel agreed to withdraw from 80% of the city of Hebron.


Principles of interpretation; the term is often used with reference to the study of Jewish and Christian scriptures.


Political movement in Eretz Israel established in 1948 by the Irgun-Zevai Le’ummi to continue as a parliamentary party with the ideals of Vladimir Jabotinsky.


The name of a radical Shii Muslim group from Lebanon. The literal translation is “party of God.” Formed in 1982 with the goal of creating an Islamic republic in the country, the group is widely known for its participation in various suicide bombings and kidnappings, and for its opposition to the existence of the state of Israel.


Iranian-backed Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization, based in predominantly Shi’ite areas of southern Lebanon, that has launched numerous attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians. On October 14, 2002, Hezbollah spokesperson Hassan Ezzedin is quoted as saying, “If they go from Sheba’a, we will not stop fighting them. Our goal is to liberate the 1948 borders of Palestine…[Jews] can go back to Germany or wherever they came from.”


The modest dress of the Muslim woman; a common usage refers only to the headscarf.


An Arabic word meaning “migration.” The Hijra refers to the Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E., in the 12th year of his mission. This event represents the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

Hinduism (Hindu)

The third largest religion in the world (behind Christianity and Islam). Hinduism is native to and predominantly practiced in India. Followers of the Hindu religion are known as Hindus. Hinduism is a diverse body of religion, philosophy, and cultural practice. Unlike Christianity or Islam, Hinduism has no founder. Hindus believe in a supreme soul called Brahman, who has no real shape or form. Different aspects or characteristics of Brahman are represented by the gods and goddesses of Hinduism. Hinduism’s three main gods are Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the protector; and Shiva, the destroyer.


(abbr. for Heb. Ha-Histadrut ha-Kelalit shel ha-Ovedim ha-Ivriyyim be- Eretz Israel). Jewish Labor Federation founded in 1920 in Palestine, subsequently renamed Histadrut ha-Ovedim be-Eretz Israel.

Holy Roman Empire

A loose federation of European political entities which existed from the ninth century until 1806. It began with papal coronation in 962 of the German king, Otto I, as the first emperor and lasted until Francis II’s renunciation of the title at the instigation of Napoleon in 1806.


Arabic word often translated as “cease-fire.- Historically used as a tactic aimed at allowing the party declaring the hudna to regroup while tricking an enemy into lowering its guard. When the hudna expires, the party that declared it is stronger and the enemy weaker. The term comes from the story of the Muslim conquest of Mecca. Instead of a rapid victory, Muhammad made a ten-year treaty with the Kuraysh tribe. In 628 AD, after only two years of the ten-year treaty, Muhammad and his forces concluded that the Kuraysh were too weak to resist. The Muslims broke the treaty and took over all of Mecca without opposition.


Correspondence between Sherif Hussein of Mecca and Sir Henry McMahon, British High Commission in Egypt in which the two agreed on the terms for Arab independence from Ottoman rule. In 1916 Hussein started the Arab Revolt and declared Arab independence from Turkey.


Electricity produced by moving water.



A theory or set of beliefs that form the basis of a political, economic, or other system.


Muslim religious leader. Any person who leads a congregational prayer is called an Imam. A religious leader who also leads his community in the political affairs may be called an Imam, an Amir, or a Caliph. An Imam is not infallible and is responsible for his mistakes to all the members of the community and to Allah.

Imam (or Imam)

There are many usages of this word. Generally and in lowercase, it refers to the leader of congregational prayers; it implies no ordination or special spiritual powers. For many Sunni Muslims it is a figurative term for the leader of the Islamic community. Among Shii Muslims the word has many complex meanings; generally it indicates that particular descendant of the House of Ali ibn Abu Talib, who is believed to have been God’s designated repository of the spiritual authority inherent in that line. The identity of this individual and the means of determining his identity has caused divisions among Shii Muslims.


Literally means open door; refers to Egyptian president Anwar al Sadat’s policy of relaxing government controls on the economy to encourage the private sector and stimulate the inflow of foreign funds. This policy was implemented after the October War in 1973.


Agreement signed between Israel and the PLO on September 28, 1995, which stipulated the redeployment of Israeli forces out of Palestinian cities in the West Bank and handing over to the Palestinian Authority civilian control in the West Bank’s Palestinian villages in conjunction with Palestinian commitments to Israeli security.


(Arabic, lit. “shaking off.”). Palestinian civil uprising in Gaza and the West Bank, December 1987-September 1993, to protest Israeli occupation. A second uprising began in 2000 and was essentially over by the end of 2004.


Cycle of violence coinciding with the intifada in which nearly 1,000 Palestinians were killed by other Palestinians on suspicion of “collaborating” with Israel.

IRA (Irish Republican Army)

A nationalist organization committed to the integration of Ireland as a complete and independent unit. Formed in 1916, it was composed of the more militant members of the Irish Volunteers and became the military wing of the Sinn FÈin party.


Formed in 1931, the Irgun Zvai Leumi (National Military Organization) advocated armed Jewish resistance to British rule and the establishment of a Jewish state. In 1946, Irgun members bombed the British office wing office wing of Jerusalem’s King David Hotel. Ninety one people were killed.


A monotheistic religion characterized by the acceptance of the doctrine of submission to God and to Muhammad as the chief and last prophet of God.


A terrorist group that split from the Muslim Brotherhood in the mid-1980s. They advocate armed struggle to liberate Palestine and strongly oppose the Oslo accords.


An Islamic revivalist movement, often characterized by moral conservatism, literalism, and the attempt to implement Islamic values in all spheres of life.


One who seeks to make Islam a more prominent part of the political and social order, usually by implementing some version of Islamic law, or sharia. Often used as a more accurate replacement for the term “fundamentalist.”


The process of Islam’s becoming a more prominent part of the political and social order. This may be through adoption of laws based on Islam, a stricter code of behavior for Muslims in a community, or significant portions of a population converting to Islam.


A name given to the Jewish patriarch Jacob according to the etiology of Genesis 32.38. In Jewish biblical times, this name refers to the northern tribes, but also to the entire nation. Historically, Jews have continued to regard themselves as the true continuation of the ancient Israelite national-religious community. The term thus has a strong cultural sense. In modern times, it also refers to the political state of Israel. Christians came to consider themselves to be the “true” Israel, thus, also a continuation of the ancient traditions.


1979 treaty in which Israel withdrew all its armed forces and civilians from Sinai in return for the termination of Egyptian strikes on Israel.


Arabs who are citizens of Israel, including Palestinian Arabs who chose to stay in their homes rather than flee in 1947-1949, and other Arabs who were allowed to become naturalized citizens. Approximately 20 percent of the Israeli population are Arabs. Israeli Arabs enjoy equal rights with Israeli Jews in Israel. The one exception is that Israeli Arabs are not required to serve in the military, though some, including all Druze, do choose to serve.


(Heb., Tzahal [Tzva Haganah Leyisrael]). The armed services of Israel.


The military wing of Hamas, but also the umbrella for other smaller terrorist groups. This group is responsible for most of the attacks on Israeli civilians.



The capital of Israel, in the east-central part of the country. King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel 3,000 years ago, and the city has played a central role in Jewish existence ever since. The Western Wall inside the Old City of Jerusalem is the part of the Temple Mount on which the ancient Temple stood, and is the holiest site in Judaism. According to Islam, the prophet Muhammad was miraculously transported from Mecca to Jerusalem, and it was from there that he made his ascent to heaven. The city is considered the third holiest place in Islam after Mecca and Medina. For Christians, Jerusalem is the place where Jesus lived, preached, died and was resurrected. Under Israel, all religions have freedom of religion and all holy sites are protected.


Organization formed in 1929 as the formal representative of the Jewish community vis-a-vis the British mandatory government. It gradually acquired the attributes of a proto-government for the Jewish community. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the Jewish Agency shifted its focus to issues common to the State and to Jewish communities abroad.


Prior to the establishment of Israel, more than 850,000 Jews lived in Arab countries. After Israel achieved independence, many of these Jews were persecuted by their governments and compelled to leave, despite having lived in some of their communities for more than 2,500 years. Between 1948 and 1972, 820,000 Jews left Arab countries, 586,000 were resettled in Israel at great expense, and without any offer of compensation from the Arab governments who confiscated their possessions. Israel has consequently maintained that any agreement to compensate the Palestinian refugees must also include Arab compensation for Jewish refugees. To this day, the Arab states have refused to pay any compensation to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced to abandon their property before fleeing those countries. More than 100 of the roughly 700 UN resolutions on the Middle East conflict refer directly to Palestinian refugees. Not one mentions the Jewish refugees from Arab countries.


The six-pointed star emblem commonly associated with Judaism, also known as the Magen David, the Shield of David or the Star of David.


Centuries-old Arabic term translated literally as “holy war” or “endeavor.” In recent years, Muslim fighters, especially in the Arab-Israeli conflict, have used the term almost solely to mean “holy war,” often waged through terrorist attacks on civilians. PLO chairman Yasir Arafat caused a stir when he called for a “jihad to liberate Jerusalem,” even after renouncing the use of violence against Israel. Arafat later said he was using the term to refer to a peaceful religious campaign for Israel’s capital.


From the Hebrew name of the patriarch Judah, whose name also came to designate the tribe and tribal district in which Jerusalem was located. Thus, the inhabitants of Judah and members of the tribe of Judah come to be called “Judahites” or, in short form, “Jews.” The religious outlook associated with these people after about the 6th century B.C.E. comes to be called “Judaism,” and has varying characteristics at different times and places see especially early Judaism, rabbinic Judaism. See also Hebrew(s), Israel.


The names that have long been used for the regions west of the Jordan River. Since Begin’s time, at least, however, these geographic references have acquired political meaning. People who refer to Judea and Samaria in political debate usually believe these territories are part of Israel and should remain so. Those who refer to the region simply as the West Bank tend to take the opposite view.


KABALA (h) or Kabbala (h)

(Kabalism) (Heb., qabbala, “receiving, tradition”). A system of Jewish theosophy and mysticism.

Kach movement and Kahane Chai

A radical Israeli Jewish organization founded by Meir Kahane, Kach means “Only Thus” in Hebrew. The stated goal of Kach and its offshoot Kahane Chai is to restore the biblical state of Israel. In March 1994, the Israeli Cabinet declared both illegal, labeling them terrorist organizations.


Two ultra right-wing organizations that have called for the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel. Kach was formed by the late Meir Kahane; Kahane Chai (“Kahane Lives”) was formed after Kahane’s 1990 assassination. On the grounds that the Kach party was racist, the Israeli government banned its members from serving in the Knesset. In March, 1994, the government outlawed both Kach and Kahane Chai altogether after Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Muslims praying at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.


An Arab headdress consisting of a square piece of cloth folded into a triangle and fastened over the crown by an agal.


In response to public outrage and grief over killings in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon, the Israeli government formed an inquiry board that found Israel was indirectly responsible for not anticipating the possibility that a Lebanese Christian militia might take revenge against Palestinians in the camps.


(Palestine Foundation Fund). The financial arm of the World Zionist Organization founded in 1920.


(pl. kibbutzim). Communal settlement in modern Israel. Originally, kibbutzim had an agricultural they focused, on agriculture, but many of them they are now are engaged in a variety of activities including tourism, high-tech ventures, and other industries. Kibbutzim is the Hebrew plural for kibbutz.


Israeli community near the town of Hebron.


Absorption; social and economic integration of immigrants.


The parliament of the State of Israel. Its name and the number of its members are based on the “Knesset Hagdola” of the early Second Temple period. It is composed of 120 representatives of different political parties, elected for a four-year term. All Israeli citizens – men, women, Christians, Muslims, and Jews – can vote and are represented in the Knesset.


The book (from the Arabic qaraa,”to read”) containing the divine revelations given to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel that was compiled by his followers after his death. Since God is believed to be the author, the Koran is considered infallible. The Sharia (Arabic for “the way”) is the body of laws that regulate Muslim life, some of which appear explicitly in the Koran. These rules are believed to be an expression of God’s will, but they are also subject to the interpretation of Islamic scholars.

KOREI, AHMED (Abu Alaa) (1937- )

Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council since the creation of the council in 1996. Korei was one of three PLO leaders who negotiated the Oslo Accords in 1993, and was involved in Camp David peace talks in July 2000. In September 2003, after Abu Mazen resigned, Arafat appointed Korei as the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. He has since been reappointed as Prime Minister by Arafat’s successor, Abu Mazen in January 2005.


(kasher). “Proper” or “ritually correct”; kashrut refers to ritually correct Jewish dietary practices. Traditional Jewish dietary laws are based on biblical legislation. Only land animals that chew the cud and have split hooves (sheep, beef; not pigs, camels) are permitted and must be slaughtered in a special way. Further, meat products may not be eaten with milk products or immediately thereafter. Of sea creatures, only those (fish) having fins and scales are permitted. Fowl is considered a meat food and also has to be slaughtered in a special manner.


See Western Wall.


Part of the Indo European family of languages, Kurdish is the language of the Kurds and is spoken in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Russia.


A non Arab Middle Eastern minority population that inhabits the region known as Kurdistan, an extensive plateau and mountain area extending across Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Armenia. In the late ’90s, estimates projected that the Kurds number more than 20 million. The majority of Kurds are devout Sunni Muslims.



Israeli political party formed by the union of three parties Mapai, Achdut Ha’avoda, and Rafi. It is aligned with a fourth party, Mapam, in the Labor Alignment. Until the 1977 elections, the Labor party (under different names) had held power since independence and had dominated Jewish public and political life in mandatory Palestine.


Land Day marks the anniversary of the 1976 fatal shooting of six Arabs during protests against government land expropriations and is traditionally observed by a general strike, processions, public rallies and tree-planting ceremonies.


Slogan often associated with the Israeli left, which actually reflects longstanding Israeli government willingness to negotiate a withdrawal from parts of the territory captured in 1967 in exchange for an end to the conflict with the Arabs.


The territory of the ancient Israelite kingdom on both sides of the Jordan river, where the national and religious identity of the Jewish people was formed. After almost 2000 years of exile of Jews from the land of Israel, the State of Israel was formed in a part of the Western area of the land of Israel.


Government land can be leased by anyone, regardless of race, religion or sex. All Arab citizens of Israel are eligible to lease government land.


Legislation adopted in 1950 that allows all Jews the legal right to immigrate to Israel and immediately become citizens if they choose to do so. Every Jew settling in Israel is considered a returning citizen, and this law recognized the connection between the Jewish people and their homeland.


Organization established on March 22, 1945, by the Arab states in the Middle East. Today 21 countries and the Palestinian Authority are part of the League.

League of Nations

Established at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Like its successor, the United Nations, its purpose was the promotion of international peace and security. It was officially dissolved in 1946.


June 1982 conflict in which the Israel Defense Forces conducted a military operation in Lebanon to drive out the PLO, which had been shelling northern Israeli towns. The majority of Israel’s forces withdrew in 1985. Israel still holds an eight-mile-wide security zone in southern Lebanon in order to protect Israeli towns from the continuing terrorist attacks launched from Lebanon.


The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This was to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren. Nevertheless, Bedouins have served in paratroop units and other Arabs have volunteered for military duty. Compulsory military service is applied to the Druze and Circassian communities at their own request.


Israeli political alignment, including the nationalist populist Herut party and the centrist Liberal party, plus several smaller parties.


Program in which the U.S. agreed to cosign loans for Israel so that Israel could obtain better financing from private banks. The loan guarantees would only cost American taxpayers if Israel defaulted on its loans-something that Israel has never done. The first loan guarantees were secured to help Israel absorb over half a million refugees fleeing from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and other troubled areas.



(from Heb., “evening pray”). Jewish synagogue evening prayer or service. Also the name of Israeli daily newspaper. See also liturgy.


Conference sponsored and organized in 1991 by the U.S. and Russia in the aftermath of the Gulf War, in which Israel and its Arab neighbors commenced bilateral and multilateral negotiations on a wide variety of matters, ranging from peace to economic issues to water. This was the first time that Arab countries other than Egypt met Israel before the world.


A system of trusteeships established by the League of Nations for the administration of former Turkish territories and of former German colonies at the close of World War I.


System created by the League of Nations to allow member nations to govern former German colonies and other conquered lands. Responsibility for the administration of Palestine was conferred on Britain by the League in 1922.

Maronite (also Maronite Christian)

A Christian community in Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, and the U.S. which is affiliated with the Catholic Church.


Jewish fortress of ancient Palestine situated on a butte west of the Dead Sea; the last stronghold of the Zealots who committed suicide rather than surrender to the Romans.

MAXIM BOMBING – Oct 4, 2003

Twenty-one people were killed, including four children, and 58 wounded in a suicide bombing carried out by a female terrorist from Jenin in the Maxim restaurant in Haifa. The Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack.

MEIR, GOLDA (1898-1978)

In June 1948, was appointed as Israel’s Ambassador to the Soviet Union, and was elected to the Knesset as a Mapai member in 1949. Meir served as Minister of Labor and National Insurance until 1956, when she became Foreign Minister. She stayed at this post until 1966. In 1969, after Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s sudden death, she assumed the role of Premier, thus becoming the third female Prime Minister in the world. She led Israel through the Yom Kippur War in 1973. In 1974, she resigned in favor of Yitzhak Rabin, and in December 1978 she passed away.


Left of center Israeli party that has called for the dismantling of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The party was part of the Labor-led coalition government and is now in the opposition. Since 2004, called the Yahad party.


Considered to be the birthplace of the first civilizations, Mesopotamia is located in the valley between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers (presentday Iraq).


Literal translation from Greek: “anointed one.” In Judaism, the term came to mean a royal descendant of David who would restore the united kingdom of Israel and Judah and usher in an age of peace, justice, and plenty. Christians apply this term to Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus is also “Messiah” in Islam.


(Sometimes referred to as the Near East, encompasses all the countries of Asia south of the former Soviet Union and west of Pakistan and Egypt. The total population of these nations is more than 200 million.


A tall slender tower on or near a mosque, from which a muezzin summons the people to prayer.


The report published on May 20, 2001, by a fact-finding committee to investigate the Al-Aqsa Intifada. The report made recommendations to both sides to bring peace.


Religious Zionist movement founded in 1902 to encourage Zionism among Orthodox Jews and promote religious and cultural ideas among its constituents. Its motto was “The Land of Israel for the people of Israel according to the Torah of Israel.” The term is more commonly used today in reference to Israeli Jews from non-European countries.

MOFAZ, SHAUL (1948- )

was the IDF’s 16th Chief of General Staff from 1998 until 2002, when he was appointed Minister of Defense, a position he holds to this day.


(Heb., “Homeland Party”). Far-right Israeli political party advocating a policy of transfer for Palestinians living in the disputed territories


A state or government in which the supreme power is lodged in the hands of a monarch (king or queen). The position of monarch is usally inherited.


The practice of having one mate at a time.


Something which is characterized as a single, often rigid, uniform whole.

monotheism, monotheistic

The belief that there is only one ultimate God.


Cooperative agricultural settlement in Israel. See moshav ovedim.


Arabic for “place of prostration”; a Muslim temple of worship.


(Heb. Hamossad Le’mode’in U’le’tafkidim Meyuchadim) The Israeli government’s intelligence agency. Like the CIA, it uses agents to collect intelligence, conduct covert operations and counterterrorism. Its primary focus is on terrorist organizations and the Arab nations.

most favored nation trading status (MFN)

Currently known as Normal Trade Relations (NTR). All World Trade Organization members as well as U.S. trade partners not in the WTO are protected under this system, which allows participating nations to pay a fixed tariff when bringing their goods into the U.S.

  1. HERZL

(Heb., Har Herzl). Israel’s National Military Cemetery, site of the graves of Theodore Herzl, David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin and other famous Jews as well as Israeli soldiers.


Person responsible for interpreting Muslim law and was held in high esteem by the population. The Mufti’s opinion is expressed in a document called a fetwa.

Mughal (also Mogul, Mongol, or Mongolian)

The Muslim dynasty that ruled India from 1526 till 1857. One of the most impressive achievements of this time is the building of the Taj Mahal monument in 1648.


Arab prophet and founder of Islam. As commanded by God (Allah), the angel Gabriel made a series of revelations to Muhammad beginning in 610 C.E. and continuing over 23 years. Muhammad wrote down these revelations verbatim, and they became the Quran. Muhammad began to preach the message of the new religion and to convert people to Islam.


(Arabic, pl. mujahideen). Holy warrior; one who fights to defend or expand Muslim lands.

Mujahideen (also mujahedeen or mujahidin)

Muslim guerrilla warriors engaged in a jihad, or holy war.


Compound in Ramallah used as the headquarters of the president of the Palestinian Authority.

Mullah (also Molah, Mulla)

A Muslim male trained in the doctrine and law of Islam and usually holding an official post. Also, the head of a mosque.


Started at the 1991 Madrid Conference. It consisted of five working groups to deal with the major issues in the Middle East including water, security, refugees, environment and economic development. These talks were held until 1996.


An organization started in 1929 by Hassan Al-Banna to overthrow the secular government in Egypt and return to a fundamentalist Islamic government. The organization grew and spread to other Arab countries and is responsible for other Islamic organizations that have emerged since then.


Started in Jaffa in November 1918 as an attempt to express a Palestinian national identity and to oppose Zionism. Soon became a country-wide network with headquarters in Jerusalem. – Muslim Conquest – Arab (Moslem) tribes conquered the land of Israel in 636 CE, soon after establishment of Islam. Jewish settlement in Jerusalem resumed; later the Jewish community diminished under burden of new taxes and limitations.



(Arabic, “The Catastrophe.”) Term used by Palestinians to describe the outcome of the 1948 War.

Nation state

A political unit consisting of an autonomous state inhabited predominantly by a people sharing a common culture, history, and language.


Israel’s central freshwater artery, completed in 1964, brings water from the north and central regions, through a network of giant pipes, aqueducts, open canals, reservoirs, tunnels, dams and pumping stations, to the semi-arid south.


Love of country. The conviction that the culture and interests of one’s nation are superior to those of any other. Aspirations for national independence in a country under foreign domination.


To convert to governmental control something that had been owned or operated by a foreign power.

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

An international military alliance consisting of the U.S., Canada, and several other largely Western countries. Created in 1949 for purposes of collective security.

Near East

Synonymous with the Middle East. May also refer to the Ottoman Empire at its largest.


The southern, mostly arid region of Israel.


A beachfront community and the site of the Passover Massacre Palestinian terrorist attack in 2002.


In 1988, Netanyahu was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister, and became Chairman of the Likud Party in 1993. In 1996, he was elected Prime Minister in the first direct election of prime minister in Israel. He served until 1999. In 2002, he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and has written several books spanning his long career.


A member of a group of people who move according to the seasons from place to place in search of food, water, and grazing land.


Occupied Territories

Regions of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Golan Heights that have been occupied by the Israelis since the Six Day War of 1967.


The walled city of Jerusalem. It is divided into four quarters – Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and Armenian that cover roughly 220 acres (one square kilometer). The walls date to the rule of the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566).

OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries)

An organization formed in 1961 by several Gulf States. Its primary mission is to stabilize petroleum prices around the world.


Policy adopted by Moshe Dayan after the Six Day War to provide access and contacts for the Arabs who just came under Israeli rule to reach other Arabs.


An Israeli attack on Lebanon in 1996 in retaliation to Hizbollah attacks.


Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 aimed at ending PLO threats to citizens in northern Israel and forcing the PLO out of the country.


Military operation launched by Israel in 2002 to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank.


Military operation by Israel in March 1978 in retaliation against a PLO attack on a bus near Haifa. Israel attempted to push PLO positions away from the Lebanese-Israeli border.


The code name for the airlift of 7,800 black Jews from Ethiopia to Israel, rescuing them from famine and oppression. The operation began on November 18, 1984, ended six weeks later on January 5, 1985.


When news of Operation Moses leaked, it was abruptly halted by the Sudanese. Almost immediately plans were made to resume the rescue, but the Sudanese president would agree only to a quick, one-shot operation carried out secretly by the United States. The CIA then planned the operation codenamed “Sheba” (also called Joshua), which began on March 28, 1985, with Ethiopian Jews from Israel working for the Mossad identifying the Ethiopian Jews in the camps and taking them by truck to an airstrip. Planes designed to hold ninety passengers each were prepared at the American base near Frankfurt, West Germany. These camouflaged U.S. Hercules transports landed at twenty-minute intervals to pick up their passengers. Instead of going to an intermediate destination, the planes flew directly to an Israeli air force base outside Eilat. The organizers had prepared to airlift as many as two thousand Ethiopian Jews from the camps, but they found only 494, so three planes returned from Sudan empty.


On May 24, 1991, a total of 34 El Al jumbo jets and Hercules C-130s – seats removed to accommodate the maximum number of Ethiopians – began non-stop flights that continued for 36 hours to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel from Addis Ababa before the capital fell to rebel forces. A total of 14,324 Ethiopian Jews were rescued and resettled in Israel. The Likud government of Yitzhak Shamir authorized a special permit for the Israeli airline, El Al, to fly on the Jewish Sabbath.


Investigate body established by Israel to determine why 13 Arabs were killed by Israeli police in the course of riots that erupted in northern Israel in October 2000.


Founded in 1969 to protect Muslim holy sites. Also gets involved in political issues and historically has supported the Palestinian people. The group currently has 55 countries as members.


Group formed at the Baghdad Conference in 1960 by Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to serve as a platform for oil producers to achieve their economic objectives. The five founding members were later joined by Qatar, Indonesia, Libya, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Nigeria.


Eastern Jerusalem building, owned by the prominent Husseini family, that has served as an informal center for Palestinian activities over the years.


Also known as Sephardim or Mizrahi; Israeli immigrants from North African and Middle Eastern nations.


From the Greek for “correct opinion/outlook,” as opposed to heterodox or heretical. The judgment that a position is “orthodox” depends on what are accepted as the operative “rules” or authorities at the time. Over the course of history, the term “orthodox” has come to denote the dominant surviving forms that have proved themselves to be “traditional” or “classical” or “mainstream” (e.g., rabbinic Judaism, the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Christian churches, sunni Islam), although new, relative “orthodoxies” constantly emerge (and often disappear).

Orthodox Christians

As members of the Eastern Orthodox Church, this branch of christianity is a product of Middle Eastern, Hellenic, and Slavic history and culture. It is seen as holding to traditional teachings and values born in Jerusalem.

Orthodox Judaism

The branch of Judaism that is committed to keeping its contract with the past. It stresses commitment to Jewish law and observance of all of the Jewish commandments and obligations.


Capital of Norway, site of secret talks in 1993 between Israel and the PLO that led to mutual recognition and the signing of the Declaration of Principles. Refers generally to the multi-stage agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Ottoman Empire

From 1300 till 1922, an empire based around Turkish sultans. At its peak (1683 till 1699) it extended through parts of Europe, the Balkans, Africa, and Asia.


A Muslim group that settled in what is modern Turkey. They established an empire from the 13th century until 1924.



The term “Palestine” is believed to be derived from the Philistines, an Aegean people who, in the 12th Century B.C., settled along the Mediterranean coastal plain of what is now Israel and the Gaza Strip. In the second century A.D., the Romans crushed the revolt of Shimon Bar Kokhba (132 CE), during which Jerusalem and Judea were regained. Three years later, Judea (the southern portion of what is now called the West Bank) was renamed Palaestina in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the Land of Israel. The Arabic word “Filastin” is derived from this Latin name.

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Umbrella organization, a coalition of groups including the Fatah, the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and several others. The PLO was formed in 1964 by the first Arab summit conference as the embodiment of the notion of a Palestinian entity. It was originally controlled by the Arab states but after the 1967 war was taken over by genuine Palestinian nationalist groups and became autonomous.


The PLO’s highest decision-making body. Composed of nearly 600 members from all PLO factions, it meets once every few years to set the organization’s long-term goals and policies.


Formed in January 1973 to coordinate nationalist resistance. The group was outlawed by Israel in 1978.


Leftist factions of the PLO. Founded in 1982 as the Palestinian Communist Party and changed its name is 1991. This group supports Oslo and calls for the PLO to work together with opposing groups.

Palestinian Authority

The official name of the Palestinian republic, which exercises self government in parts of Gaza and the West Bank. Its leader since 1969 has been Yasser Arafat.


The Palestinian autonomous government in the West Bank and Gaza areas from which the Israeli Defense Forces have redeployed since the 1994 Gaza-Jericho agreement and the 1995 Interim Agreement (“Oslo II”).


An outgrowth of the Oslo agreements, the PLC is the legislature of the Palestinian Authority.


Formed in 1964 as the PLO’s military branch led by Yasser Arafat. After Oslo this group was observed by the PA security units.


A fund for Palestinian taxes and donations from other Arab persons and countries. Managed by a board of directors appointed by the PLO executive committee.


Started in March 1985 by PFLP and pro-Syrian groups in Damascus. This group is an umbrella organization that opposed Yasser Arafat’s policies.


About 600,000 Palestinian (other estimates range form 500,000 to 800,000) fled Israel between 1947 and 1949, fundamentally because of the Arab states’ rejection of the United Nation partition plan and invasion of Israel. The refugees fled out of fear of war and in response to Arab leaders’ calls for Arabs to evacuate the areas allocated to the Jews until Israel had been eliminated. In a handful of cases, Palestinians were expelled. A majority of the refugees and their descendants now live in the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank. About 360,000 Palestinians fled eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights during and after Israel’s defensive 1967 War. Palestinian who fled in 1967 are technically considered displaced persons and do not have official refugee status. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency estimated that 175,000 of these 360,000 Palestinians were refugees from the 1948 War. The May 4, 1994, Gaza-Jericho Accord calls for Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan, and Egypt to form a Continuing Committee to discuss the 1967 displaced persons. The problem of the 1947-1949 refugees, on the other hand, is to be left for the “final status” negotiations under the terms of the Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles of September 13, 1993.


Although anyone with roots in the land that is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza is technically a Palestinian, the term is now more commonly used to refer to Arabs with such roots. Palestinian nationalism, as distinguished from Arab nationalism, did not emerge until after World War I. Most of the world’s Palestinian population is concentrated in Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jordan, although many Palestinians live in Lebanon, Syria and other Arab countries.


Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser sought to unify the Arab world into one Arab state. This goal was referred to as Pan-Arabism.


A legislative assembly in certain countries.


Proposals for dividing Palestine into autonomous areas controlled by Jews and Arabs. On November 29, 1947, the United Nations General Assemly adopted a partition plan that called for the division of Mandate Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. Ultimately, the proposal was rejected by the Arabs.


Mar 27, 2002 – 22 people were killed (6 more died later) and 140 injured – 20 seriously – in a suicide bombing in the Park Hotel in the coastal city of Netanya, in the midst of the Passover holiday seder with 250 guests. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack.


Umbrella Israeli peace organization, united by the desire of its members to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians based on territorial compromise.


British Royal Commission appointed in 1936 to inquire into the Palestine problem and make recommendations for its solution. The Commission recommended partitioning the country into Arab and Jewish states.

PERES, SHIMON (1923- )

From 1953 to 1959, Peres served as the Director General of the Defense Ministry. In 1956, he spearheaded the Sinai Campaign and served as Prime Minister from 1984 to 1986 and, after Rabin’s assassination, from November 1995 to May 1996. In 1994 he won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiations with the Palestinians that led to the signing of the Declaration of Principles. He founded The Peres Center for Peace in 1996, and was appointed Minister of Foreign Affaris and Deputy Prime Minister under Sharon in March 2001, until his resignation in October 2002. In January 2005, Peres became Vice Premier.

Persian Gulf

An arm of the Arabian Sea between the Arabian peninsula and Iran. It has been an important trade route since ancient times and gained added strategic significance after the discovery of oil in the region in the 1930s.


The largest and most important Christian-Maronite party in Lebanon. Founded in 1936 by Pierre Gemayel as a vigilante youth movement dedicated to the preservation of a Christian Lebanon, it later developed into a political party with a sophisticated and elaborate organization and a quite complex concept of the Lebanese entity and its problems.


A 200-meter wide, 9-kilometer long strip along the Egypt-Gaza border.


Substances containing the element phosphorus, for fertilizers and other uses.


A journey to a sacred place; a long journey or search, especially one of religious or moral significance.

PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization)

Founded in 1964, the organization works for an independent Palestinian state. The PLO is the official representative for the Palestinian people. Yasser Arafat is its chairman.


The Council was established in June 1970 as the second leading body of the PLO. In 1973 the PCC became an intermediary body between the PNC and the Executive Committee. At present it has 124 members.


Adopted by the PNC in July 1968. Contains 33 articles of basic law for the PLO. Also called the Palestinian National Charter and the Palestinian Covenant.


The highest body of the PLO. This group represents the PLO internationally and has full control over all sub-organizations and budgets. The committee has 18 members and is elected by the PNC.


An organized massacre or persecution of a minority group, especially one conducted against Jews.


“The law provides citizens with the right to change peacefully their government, and citizens exercise this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage for adult citizens,” according to the U.S. State Department.


Stressed the importance of political action and deemed the attainment of political rights in Palestine a prerequisite for the fulfillment of the Zionist enterprise. Political Zionism is linked to the name of Theodor Herzl, who considered the Jewish problem a political one that should be solved by overt action in the international arena. His aim was to obtain a charter, recognized by the world leadership, granting the Jews sovereignty in a Jewish­owned territory.


The form of government of a nation, state, or organization or the political organization itself, such as a nation.


The practice of having more than one spouse at a time.


Leftist, Syrian-based PLO faction, led by George Habash, that rejects the current Israeli-PLO peace process. The PFLP is responsible for many terrorist acts, including airline hijackings and attacks on foreign airports. In 1999 the group forged ties with Arafat and Fateh. This group is listed as a terrorist organization by the US state department.


Broke off from the PFLP in 1968. This group is based in Damascus. It is backed by Syria and is hostile toward Arafat and his supporters within the PLO. This group rejects any compromise with Israel and is labeled as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.


Small anti-Arafat faction of the PLO. Created before 1967 but formally established in July 1967.


Emphasized practical means of attaining Zionist goals, such as aliyah, rural settlement and educational institutions, despite inadequate political conditions.


An umbrella organization consisting of more than 40 Jewish groups originally formed because the U.S. State Department wanted to speak to one group representing the American Jewish community rather than each individual organization.


The spreading of any information (true or false) in order to promote some cause, such as to assist or damage a person, idea, or institution.


A system which taxes foreign markets more than domestic ones.

Protectorate status

The authority assumed by a larger or more powerful government or nation over a territorial unit, nation, state, or people in a specific location, whereby the former protects the latter from invasion and shares in the management of its affairs.


A major piece of antisemitic propaganda, compiled at the turn of the century by members of the Russian Secret Police. Essentially adapted from a nineteenth century French polemical satire directed against Emperor Napoleon III, substituting Jewish leaders, the Protocols maintained that Jews were plotting world dominion by setting Christian against Christian, corrupting Christian morals and attempting to destroy the economic and political viability of the West. It gained great popularity after World War I and was translated into many languages, encouraging antisemitism in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. Long repudiated as an absurd and hateful lie, the book currently has been reprinted and is widely distributed by Neo-Nazis and others who are committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.



An irrigation system formed by tunneling into a hillside to find a water bearing formation, and then channeling the water out of the hill to the surface for use in irrigation. Much of the water used in the plateau regions of Iran, for example, is brought into use in this way.


The military-technological advantage that Israel Defense Forces try to maintain in order to offset the numerical superiority of Arab armed forces it may face in future wars. This edge has eroded in recent years, as Arab states purchased more sophisticated arms. The United States has pledged to support Israel’s qualitative military edge through security assistance and technological transfers.


Refers to the four sponsors – The European Union, the United Nations, the United States, and Russia – of a peace plan agreed to by the Israelis and Palestinians in 2003 aimed at ending the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Arabic Al Qur’an, “The Recitation.” The sacred scriptures of Islam, the religion of the Muslims dictated to Muhammed by the Archangel Gabriel.


The collection of Islamic scriptures. It is made up of 114 sections that are believed to have been revealed verbatim to Muhammad over a period of time through the angel Gabriel.


RABIN, YITZHAK (1922-1995)

On June 2, 1974, Rabin was elected Prime Minister of Israel, and served until 1977. He served as Minister of Defense in the National Unity Government from September 1984 to March 1990. In 1992, he was elected Prime Minister for a second time, and in 1994, won the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiations with the Palestinians. On November 4, 1995, he was assassinated by a gunman in central Tel Aviv at a rally and was laid to rest on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.


The ninth month of the Islamic year, is the month in which the Koran was revealed to Muhammad. According to Muslim tradition, the actual revelation occurred on the night between the 26th and 27th days of the month. On this “Night of Determination,” God determines the fate of the world for the coming year.


City north of Jerusalem that is the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority.

RANTISSI, ABD al-AZIZ (1947-2004)

Was the head of Hamas and its main spokesperson, orchestrating numerous terrorist attacks. Israeli security forces killed Rantisi on April 17, 2004.


Plan proposed by United States President Reagan in September 1982 to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. It stated that over a five year period the Palestinians should established a democracy government with free elections and that Israel should freeze all settlement activity and work out plans with Jordan to have a Palestinian entity.


Founded by Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881-1982), this represents a recent development in American Judaism, and attempts to focus on Judaism as a civilization and culture constantly adapting to insure survival in a natural social process. The central academic institution is the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in the Philadelphia suburbs. See also Reform and Conservative Judaism.


(Hebrew, “Magen David Adom”) This Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross is the Hebrew name of the six-pointed Jewish star.


Modern movement originating in 18th century Europe that attempts to see Judaism as a rational religion adaptable to modern needs and sensitivities. The ancient traditions and laws are historical relics that need have no binding power over modern Jews. The central academic institution of American Reform Judaism is the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, and it is represented also by the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Compare Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism. See Pittsburgh Platform, Geiger.


Coalition of groups created in Baghdad in 1974. Its members are PFLP, PFLP-GC, PSF and PLF. Refers more broadly also to Arab nations opposed to peace with Israel, notably Syria, Iraq, Algeria, Libya, South Yemen, and the PLO. Today, the first four remain the principal Arab opponents of peace with Israel


“The law provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right,” according to the U.S. State Department. In fact, each religious community has legal authority over its members in matters of marriage and divorce. They also control their own holy places in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country.


Based on a fusion of Jewish religion and nationhood, it aims to restore not only Jewish political freedom but also Jewish religion in the light of the Torah and its commandments. For Religious Zionism, Judaism based on the commandments is a sine qua non for Jewish national life in the homeland.


Literally translated from French as “rebirth.” It refers to a time period between the 14th and 16th centuries in Europe marked by a resurgence of classical ideas and the rapid development of literature, arts, and science. It marks the transition from medieval to modern times.


A person or organization whose income comes from renting out property, bond interest, or other investments.


Zionist Party of maximalist political Zionists founded in 1925 and led by Vladimir Jabotinsky. Holocaust revisionists deny that the Holocaust ever happened.


A member of the clergy or laity who promotes revivals events of spiritual awakening or deep religious involvement. In modern Christianity, especially common in evangelical circles, revivals are special meetings to encourage spiritual awakening or interest.


Plan put forward by the Quartet for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It calls on both sides to take steps that will lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state that will coexist with Israel. Key provisions include the Palestinian commitment to end violence, dismantle the terrorist infrastructure, cease incitement and confiscate illegal weapons. Israel agreed to freeze settlement construction, dismantle illegal outposts and withdraw troops from parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.


Peace plan proposed by US Secretary of State William Rogers on December 9, 1969. The plan called for an Israeli-Egyptian cease-fire agreement along the Suez Canal and an opening of negotiations between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan.



Two refugee camps in Beirut where Lebanese Christian Phalangists massacred Palestinians on September 16-17, 1982. Israel had allowed the Phalange to enter the camps as part of a plan to transfer authority to the Lebanese. See also Kahan Commission.

SABRA(S) – (Heb.)

Native-born Israeli(s). The word comes from the name of a cactus plant that is prickly on the outside and soft and tasty on the inside. The Israeli character is often said to resemble this fruit.


A Shii Iranian/Persian dynasty which fought against the Ottomans from the 16th to the 18th centuries.


mountainous northern part of the West Bank. (See Judea and Samaria)


A Persian dynasty that ruled from 224 to 651 C.E. The Sassanians sought to obliterate Greek cultural influences and revive Persian traditions. At one point the Empire controlled territory from Indus to the Nile, and from Yemen to the Caucasus.

SAVAK (Sazamane Etelaat Va Amniate Kechvar)

An Iranian intelligence organization for the Shah, founded in 1957 with CIA assistance. Its primary purpose was to eliminate threats to the Shah. SAVAK’s tactics included censorship, torture, and execution. When the Shah was ousted in 1979, SAVAK was singled out as a primary target for reprisals, and the organization was dissolved.


August 9, 2001, a suicide bomber denotates a bomb laden with nail, screws, and bolts in the pizzeria on the corner of King George Street and Jaffa Road, in the center of Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed, including seven children, and approximately 130 others were wounded. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad both claimed responsibility for the attack.


A short-range ballistic missile. Iraq fired these missiles at Israel in 1991.


Israeli town only a kilomter from the Gaza Strip border. It has been the target for many attacks by Palestinian terrorist, mainly members of Hamas. Sderot is relentlessly shelled by more than 350 rockets, includingmortar bombs and Qassam rockets. The town has suffered the loss of seven residents, including three children, to attacks from Gaza from April 2004 to January 2005. Ariel Sharon, in response to outrage over the plight of the town, has installed a “Red Dawn” alarm system that gives 15-20 seconds of warning before an attack. However, the system is widely considered insufficient and only works intermittently.


Relating to or characteristic of a sect or denomination; adhering to the viewpoint of that sect; partisan.


General term for nonreligious, or the opposite of religious.


The act of transferring control or ownership from religious to civil authorities.


The principle that a people should be free to determine their own political status.


First used in the late 18th century for those who descended from Noah’s son Shem. Today it commonly identifies people who speak a Semitic language. Arabs sometimes claim they can’t be anti-Semitic (a term coined in Germany in 1879) because they too are Semites; however, anti-Semitism refers specifically to Jew-hatred, something some Arabs have engaged in from at least the time of Muhammad to the present.


(adj. Sephardic; Sephardic). The designation Sepharad in biblical times refers to a colony of exiles from Jerusalem (Obadiah 20), possibly in or near Sardis{??}; in the medieval period, Sephardic(c) Jews are those descended from those who lived in Spain and Portugal (the Iberian peninsula) before the expulsion of 1492. As a cultural designation, the term refers to the complex associated with Jews of this region and its related diaspora in the Balkans and Middle East (especially in Islamic countries). The term is used in contradistinction to Ashkenazi, but it does not refer, thereby, to all Jews of non-Ashkenazi origin.


Israeli Jews living in communities in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip.


See Shin Bet.


A title used formerly for the hereditary monarch of Iran.


(Hebrew) Peace. Used as a common greeting/farewell among Jews.


Leader of Lohamei Herut Yisrael (Freedom Fighters of Israel) from 1943 to 1949, though he spent time in a British-run prison camp in Eritrea from 1946 to 1947. He was elected to the Knesset in 1973, became Speaker in 1977, and Foreign Minister in 1980, after the resignation of Moshe Dayan. He served as Prime Minister from 1983 to 1984 and from 1986 to 1992.

SHARETT, MOSHE (1894-1965)

Elected Israel’s first Foreign Minister in 1949. Sharett served as Prime Minister from 1954-55 and presided over an era of immense national socioeconomic development and immigrant absorption. In 1955 he returned to his post as Foreign Minister until June 1956. In 1960, he became the chairman of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency. Sharett died at the age of 71 in 1965.


(Arabic) Code of law based on the Koran.


Meaning “path” in Arabic, sharia law tells devout Muslims what to eat, how to pray, and how to behave in public. Muslims believe the sharia are revelations from God (Allah). Under strict sharia law, people may not consume alcohol, borrow money at interest, or allow women in their family to go out in public without a veil.


Agreement signed by Israeli Prime Minister Barak and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat on September 4, 1999. Laid out a time frame for different transfers of land and for the implementation of the Wye River Memorandum. The final agreement was never signed.

SHARON, ARIEL (1928- )

Israel Defense Minister 1981-83, during which time he oversaw the Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula following the signing of the Eqypt Peace Treaty of 1979. In 1998, he became Foreign Minister, and was appointed the interim Likud party leader after Netanyahu’s resignation in May 1999. In a special election in February 2001, Sharon was elected Prime Minister. On Jan. 4, 2006, Sharon suffered from a massive stroke which left him permanently incapacitated.


British commission set out in 1929 to investigate Jewish-Arab riots in Palestine. The commission led to the issuing of a White Paper by the government that called for restrictions on Jewish immigration.


Refers to a religious official or a leader of an Arab family or village.

sheikh (also sheik)

The term may be used for the head of an Arab family or of a clan or tribe. It can also mean the chief of an Arab village or a religious official.

sheikhdoms (also sheikdom)

The region ruled by a sheikh.


Adherents of Islam’s heterodoxy, the Shi’a (lit. “faction”). Reject the first three caliphs, and follow the fourth, Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law, because they feel he was closer to the Prophet. They believe the imams were descendants of Muhammad, whose interpretation of the Koran was infallible. Eventually, important doctrinal differences developed between the Shi’a and the Sunna. Shi’ites are divided into Zaydis, Twelvers, and Isma’ilis. Most Shiites believe that Muhammad, the twelfth imam, who disappeared in 874, was the last. They are known as Twelver Shiites. The Alawis and the Druzes are offshoots of the Isma’iliyya.

Shii Muslims (also Shiite, Shi’ite, Shi’a)

Shii Muslims make up 10 up to 15 percent of the world’s Muslim population today. The They believe that true Islamic leaders must be the descendants of Muhammad’s son in law, Ali. Members of Shii communities vary from each other on important issues, but all often differ radically from Sunna, especially regarding interpretation of the Quran, jurisprudence, and worship.


Sherut Habitachon Haklali (Shabak), better known as the Shin Bet, is Israel’s internal counterespionage and counterterrorist agency. It is responsible for the security and protection of Israel’s prime minister and other governmental leaders as well as of defense industries, sensitive economic locations and Israeli installations abroad.


Describes the approach Henry Kissinger used to reach an agreement between Israel and Egypt. He flew back and forth between the two countries with American suggestions, and with offers and counteroffers from the two governments. The term has been applied to subsequent diplomatic efforts pursued in this way.

Silk Route

A widespread network of caravan trails crossing Europe and Asia from the Miditerranean coast to China. By the middle of the second century B.C.E., the Silk Route began to function as a regular diplomatic and commercial artery, carrying silk from China, spices and gemstones from India, silver goods from Iran, Byzantine cloth, and many other goods.


A combination of mud and small rocks deposited by running or standing water.


War fought from October-November 1956 when Israel reacted to Egyptian terrorist attacks and the blockade of the Straits of Tiran by occupying the Sinai Peninsula. (See Suez War)


Desert region located to Israel’s southwest. Israel captured the Sinai in the Six-Day War but returned it to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries.


War fought in June 1967 when Israel reacted to Arab threats and the blockade of the Straits of Tiran. The preemptive strike was to avoid a massive attack on Israel by Syria, Jordan, and Egypt after Egyptian President Nasser ordered a concentration of military forces in the Suez Canal zone and a naval blockade on the Gulf of Aqaba to Israeli shipping. The Israeli military campaign destroyed the air forces of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq, and captured the West Bank and the Golan Heights, two areas of great strategic value. By the end of the war, Israel had tripled its size. But the victory came with high casualties, as 777 soldiers died and 2,586 were wounded.


An economic system in which the government owns and administers the means of production and distribution of goods. In a socialist society or living group, there is no private property.


Founded by Nachman Syrkin, Socialist Zionism strove to achieve Jewish national and social redemption by fusing Zionism with Socialism. Its philosophy was based on the assumption that the problem of Diaspora Jewry would remain unsolved even after the Socialist revolution, and that the solution to the anomaly of Jewish existence was the emigration of Jews toPalestine, and that only there could the economic structure of the Jewish people be reconstituted as a base for the class struggle of the Jewish proletariat.


A trend in Jewish nationalist thinking and Zionist ideology championed by Ahad Ha’am who believed Judaism had lost its sources of creative and national might. Because Ha’am did not believe that Palestine could accommodate all of Jewry, a Jewish state there, in his estimation, would not solve the problem of the Jews’ social and economic status. Efforts should concentrate on establishing a national spiritual center, a hub of high­quality life in Palestine, that would radiate to all Diaspora communities.


The six-pointed star emblem commonly associated with Judaism. During the Holocaust, Jews throughout Europe were required to wear Stars of David on their sleeves or fronts and backs of their shirts and jackets.


Type of settlement established in Palestine between 1936 and 1947 to provide greater security against Arab attacks.


Formal agreement between the United States and Israel, initiated in 1983 by Ronald Reagan and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, to assist each other in areas of mutual security concern. This strategic relationship has included joint military exercises, prepositioning of stockpiles, the use of Haifa port by U.S. naval vessels, intelligence-sharing, Israeli support for U.S. forces in the 1991 Gulf War, and bilateral research and development programs like the Arrow missile.

Suez Canal

A strategic artificial waterway in Egypt. Opened in 1869, the canal connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Gulf of Suez and the Red Sea. It provides the fastest crossing between the Atlantic and Indian oceans.


In 1956, clashes between Israel and Egypt since Israel’s inception culminated in Egypt’s blockade of the Straits of Tiran, Israel’s only outlet to the Red Sea, and nationalization of the Suez Canal. The British and French, who owned the Suez Canal Company, joined forces with Israel to reclaim the waterway. The three countries invaded and occupied the Suez Canal zone, beginning on October 29, 1956. A ten mile buffer on either side was suggested to separate the Egyptian forces from the Israelis, but Egyptian President Nasser resisted. By the end of the 100-hour war, Israel held the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula. A total of 231 Israeli soldiers died in the fighting.


The right to vote.


The ruler of a Muslim country. The term was especially used during the former Ottoman Empire.


The office, power, or reign of a sultan; also, a country ruled by a sultan.


Habit, practice, customary procedure, sanctioned by Islamic tradition that is based on the teachings and practices of Muhammad and the interpretations of the Koran.


Muslims who believe that leaders don’t necessarily possess sacred wisdom and that anyone who is a good Muslim can become a leader, a view that differs from that of the Shii. The majority of Muslims are Sunni.


The majority of Muslims are Sunnis, who follow the first four caliphs who they believe followed the practices of the Prophet and his companions. Sunnis accept the Islamic tradition (sunna) and the legitimate authority of the caliphs as the Prophet’s successors.


Arab leaders in Palestine, established during the Arab rebellion, led by Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini 1936-1939.

Sykes Picot Agreement

A secret agreement made in 1916 between Britain and France which divided the Ottoman Empire into areas governed by the British and French.


Secret agreement named after Britain’s Sir Mark Sykes and France’s Charles Georges Picot. Signed by Britain and France in May 1916, the agreement divided the Ottoman Empire among them. Lebanon and Syria were to to be French spheres of influence while Jordan and Iraq were to be controlled by Britain. Palestine was supposed to be internationalized but wound up coming under British rule.


Championed by Chaim Weizmann, Synthetic Zionism was a merger of Political and Practical Zionism, advocating political activity coupled with practical endeavor in Palestine.



Literally translated as “God’s Students,” this is a radical Islamic group formed in Afghanistan in 1994, whose intention is to turn the country into a “pure” Islamic state, subject to their own strict interpretations of the sharia. Throughout the 1990s, the Taliban committed public executions, stonings, and amputations to enforce sharia, and prohibited gambling, music, videos, and more. Women are to remain as invisible as possible.


Literally means organization in Arabic. This name was given to a part of Fateh that operates as a loose collection of militants for enforcing order. This group is given credit for starting the Al-Aqsa intifada and has engaged in numerous terrorist attacks against Israel.


A euphemism for Israel’s policy of assassinating known terrorists who the Palestinian Authority will not arrest and Israel is unable to apprehend through other means


A government tax on imports or exports.


Israel’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, located along the Mediterranean coast. Has been the target of many terrorist attacks, including those at malls, restaurants, and discos.


In the ancient world, temples were the centers of outward religious life, places at which public religious observances were normally conducted by the priestly professionals. In traditional Judaism, the only legitimate Temple was the one in Jerusalem, built first by King Solomon around 950 B.C.E., destroyed by Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar around 587/6 B.C.E., and rebuilt about 70 years later. It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. The site of the ancient Jewish Temple is now occupied, in part, by the “Dome of the Rock” Mosque. In recent times, “temple” has come to be used synonymously with synagogue in some Jewish usage.


An area of roughly 40 acres on Mount Moriah on which the Jewish Temple was built in 950 B.C. The Temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians and rebuilt 70 years later. It was razed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The Muslims subsequently built the mosque known as the Dome of the Rock on a plaza above the Western Wall in 691 and added a second great mosque, El-Aqsa, 20 years later.


Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire proposed by CIA director George Tenet. The cease-fire took effect on June 13, 2001, but was quickly broken by the Palestinians, and the plan was never fully implemented.


An area of land or ground. May also refer to the physical characteristics of an area of land.


The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.


A region and ancient country in the southeast Balkan Peninsula north of the Aegean Sea. In the seventh century B.C.E., it was colonized by Greeks and later came under the control of Rome, Byzantium, and Ottoman Turkey. It is now divided between Greece and Turkey.


One of the famed ancient “walled cities” of Israel, in central Israel, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.


The five books of Moses in the Hebrew scriptures. The term also refers to the study of the Jewish tradition.


Area southeast of Haifa inhabited primarily by Israeli Arabs.

Truman Doctrine

U.S. president Harry Truman’s policy of providing economic and military aid to any country threatened by communism or totalitarian ideology. The doctrine defined the main thrust of U.S. foreign policy in the face of an emergent rivalry for global power with what was then known as the Soviet Union.


Israel’s Defense Forces. See also Israeli Defense Forces.



(Arabic). Muslim scholars trained in Islam and Islamic law.


Class or school for intensive study of Hebrew language.


The worldwide community of Muslims.


Resolution adopted on December 11, 1948, to address the issue of Arab refugees. Often cited as granting the Palestinians a “right to return” to their homes, the resolution actually says those wishing to return must be willing to live at peace with their neighbors. Compensation and resettlement are also presented as options. The Arab states voted unanimously against the resolution.


Umbrella organization of the four major PLO factions plus Islamic Jihad. Organized the first Intifada (1987-93).

United Nations

An international organization that comprises 189 countries. It was founded in 1945 to promote peace, security, and economic development.


Resolution adopted on November 29, 1947, that endorsed the partition of Palestine. This partition provided for the creation of a Jewish and an Arab state in what had been the British Mandate and also created Jerusalem as a corpus separatum, an international city.


Non-binding resolution adopted on December 11, 1948, which called upon the Arab states and Israel to resolve all outstanding issues through negotiations. It also said that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so, that compensation should be paid for property, and that the Conciliation Commission should facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of refugees. The Arab states unanimously rejected the resolution, but subsequently argued it recognized a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees. Israel disputes this interpretation and has consistently said the refugee issue, including Jews who fled Arab countries, should be negotiated as part of an overall peace agreement.


An organization helping relieve the lot of refugees world-wide, but not that of Palestinian refugees, whose educational and health needs are addressed by UNRWA.


Founded in 1949 as a Palestinian emergency assistance organization. Its mandate is to provide education, health and relief services. Its headquarters are in Gaza.


Resolution adopted in 1967 that established the principle of land for peace. The resolution calls for the “[w]ithdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” as well as calling for the Arab states to recognize that “every State in the area” has the “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” UNSC Resolution 242 also stresses the importance of freedom of navigation through Middle East waterways and “a just settlement of the refugee problem.”


Resolution adopted in 1973 calling for a cease-fire in the Yom Kippur War, the implementation of UNSC Resolution 242 and negotiations between the parties involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict.


The UN Special Coordiniator in the West Bank and Gaza established in June 1994. This person facilitates UN programs in the region and donated monies.


Appointed in April 1947 to investigate the situation in Palestine and propose solutions. The majority of the committee recommended to partition Palestine, giving the Negev and a small part of the western part of the country to the Jews and giving what is now the West Bank and most of the northern part of the country to the Arabs. The Arab Higher Committee rejected the partition plan, the Jewish Agency accepted it.


Established in June 1948 to assist the UN Mediator and the Truce Commission in supervising a truce between the Jews and the Arabs in Palestine. The group is still in operation today in Beirut, the Sinai and the Golan with headquarters are in Jerusalem.



A stretch of valley in the northern Golan Heights where an Israeli force of 100 tanks was decimated by the invading Syrian army in 1973. Only seven tanks survived, but they continued to fight. Thanks to similar courage in the southern Golan, the Syrians were routed within four days and nearly 600 Syrian tanks were left in ruins in the Valley of Tears.


(“The Path of Sorrow”). This is the route through the Old City of Jerusalem that Christians believe Jesus traveled carrying the cross from his trial to the place of his crucifixion and burial.


All Israeli citizens of voting age are eligible to vote. Israel is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote.



Dry riverbed that is filled with water for a short time during the rainy season in the winter.

Wafd Party

Egyptian nationalist political party largely credited with achieving Egypt’s partial independence from Britain in 1922.


A movement to reform Islam founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahab in the 18th century. It is known for its strict observance of the Quran and calls for the removal of all innovations to Islam. Its conservative regulations have an impact on all aspects of life. The movement played an important role in the founding of Saudi Arabia.


(Arabic). A Muslim Charitable pious foundation. Also state lands and other property passed to the Muslim community for public welfare.


War of 1947-49 when the Jews of Israel fought off invading Arab armies and established an independent state. On May 15, 1948, the day the British Mandate over Palestine expired, five neighboring Arab countries attacked the one-day-old State of Israel. Israel was invaded from every direction by the armies of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Transjordan, and Egypt, fully equipped with high-tech weaponry. In contrast, the Jews lacked matching artillergy, tanks, and warplanes in the first days of the war. Two Jewish defense forces, the Irgun Zeva’I Le-ummi and the Lohamei Herut Israel merged to form the new Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and protect their homeland. The Jews fought back their attackers with a vengeance, and the Arab war to destroy Israel ended in failure. By the end of the war, the Arabs had lost territory they would have had if they had accepted the Partition Plan. The cost was high to the Israelis, too. Military expenditures totaled $500 million, and 6,373 Israelis were killed, nearly one percent of the Jewish population of 650,000. An armistice was signed in 1949 by Egypt (February 24), Lebanon (March 23), Jordan (April 3), and Syria (July 20), but Iraq refused to sign an agreement with Israel.


Document signed July 25, 1994, by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Jordanian King Hussein, and U.S. President Bill Clinton on the occasion of the first public meeting between Israeli and Jordanian leaders. Paving the way to the formal peace treaty between the two countries signed on October 26, 1994, the document formally ended the 46-year-old state of war between Israel and Jordan and emphasized that both countries would negotiate “vigorously” to reach an agreement on a full peace treaty. The document also outlined economic and other forms of cooperation between the two countries.


Territory west of the Jordan River that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. Long known as Judea and Samaria, this 2263-square mile territory is home to a Palestinian population of more than one million, as well as about 240,000 Jewish residents.


Refers to the Jewish sector of Jerusalem built mostly after the 1948 War outside the walls of the Old City.


(Heb., kotel). The only remaining structure from the Second Temple left standing after the Roman destruction. Actually, part of the retaining wall of the mount on which the Temple stood. Since the Jews are considered to be in a state of “ritual impurity” until certain special sacrifices can be brought (notably the ashes of the red heifer), some authorities hold religious Jews are forbidden to set foot on the actual site of the temple and this is the closest they can come to praying at the temple site. Others hold, however, that Jews may ascend the Temple Mount compound and are only forbidden to enter certain areas inside it. Sometimes called the “Wailing Wall” by non-Jews.


A British government statement of Palestine policy, which restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine and prohibited the purchase of land by Jews there. It proposed the creation of an Arab state alone, but the Arabs rejected it.


The Equality of Women’s Rights Law prescribes legal equality for men and women in all matters of jurisprudence, and adds that any legal provision that discriminates against women qua women shall not be applied.


In 1938, a commission led by Sir John Woodhead was appointed to explore the partition recommendation of the Peel Commission. The commission proposed a reduction of the Jewish share of Palestinian territory to about 400 square miles around Tel Aviv – the only area where the Jews constituted a majority. The Woodhead plan was rejected by the Zionists as inadequate; it also was rejected by the Arabs, who opposed granting sovereignty to Jews over any part of Palestine.


“Workers may join and establish labor organizations freely,” the U.S. State Department noted in its annual human rights report. “Nonresident workers in the organized sector, including Palestinians from the occupied territories, are represented by Histadrut and are covered under its collective bargaining agreements. They may join, vote for, and be elected to shoplevel workers’ committees. Labor laws applicable in Israel are applied to Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Syrian Arabs and Druze on the Golan Heights.”


A voluntary association of representative Jewish bodies, communities and organizations throughout the world, established in 1936.


Group founded in 1897 through the efforts of Theodor Herzl whose purpose was to coordinate all Zionist efforts to establish a Jewish national homeland. The WZO’s primary objective was attained in 1948 with the establishment of the State of Israel. Since then the WZO has functioned as liaison to Diaspora Jewry, promoting activities which focus on the unity of the Jewish people and the centrality of Israel in Jewish life; facilitating immigration; fostering Jewish education in Jewish communities worldwide; and defending the rights of Jews wherever they live.


Agreement signed on October 23, 1998 for the implementation of Oslo II agreement and to resume final status talks. The memorandum included giving the PA control over 13% of the West Bank, changing the PLO Charter, opening of the Gaza airport, reduction of the number of Palestinian Police and the release of Palestinian prisoners. The full extent of agreements were not carried out



Israeli authority and museum for commemorating the Holocaust in the Nazi era and Jewish resistance and heroism at that time.

YASSIN, SHEIK (1937-2004)

Founded Hamas, originally called the Islamic Centre in Gaza in 1973, an organization of religious activists whose goal is to carry out “Jihad” operations against Israel. Hamas is an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement and means ‘zeal’ in Arabic and ‘evil’ in Hebrew. A leading opponent of the peace process with Israel, Yassin headed innumerous terrorist attacks against Israel and was jailed many times. On September 6, 2003, the Israeli airforce bombed a Gaza building in which Hamas leaders were gathered, but Yassin escaped with minor injuries. However, on March 22, 2004, he was killed in an Israeli helicopter missile strike on his car as he left a mosque in northern Gaza.


Hebrew name for Jerusalem.


(pl. yeshivot). A Jewish rabbinic academy of higher learning. See also beit midrash.


The Jewish community of Palestine. The pre Zionist community is generally designated the “old yishuv,” and the community evolving from 1880 the “new yishuv.”


Israeli Independence Day.


Holocaust Remembrance Day.


Israeli Memorial Day.


In October 1973, Syrian and Egyptian forces, assisted by other Arab nations, launched a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews. Although placed on the defensive for the first two days, Israel eventually was able to counter-attack and repulse the Arab invaders. An internationally-brokered cease-fire was established after three weeks of fighting. A total of 2,688 Israeli soldiers died in the fighting.


Holiday celebrating the reunification of Jerusalem in the hands of the modern state of Israel.


Organization founded in 1932 by Henrietta Szold to rescue Jewish children and young people and give them care and education in Eretz Israel.



(Mount) Zion is an ancient Hebrew designation for Jerusalem, but already in biblical times it began to symbolize the national homeland (see e.g., Psalm 137.1-6). In this latter sense it served as a focus for Jewish national-religious hopes of renewal over the centuries. Ancient hopes and attachments to Zion gave rise to Zionist longings and movements since antiquity, culminating in the modern national liberation movement of that name. The Zionist cause helped the Jews return to Palestine in this century and found the state of Israel in 1948. The goal of Zionism is the political and spiritual renewal of the Jewish people in its ancestral homeland. See also Herzl.


(Mount) Zion is an ancient Hebrew term for Jerusalem and symbolizes national areligious hopes for a Jewish homeland. In the 1890s Theodor Herzl authored the pamphlet “The Jewish State,” which served as a catalyst to the development of modern Zionism, the goal of which is the political and spiritual renewal of the Jewish people in it ancestral homeland in Palestine and other parts of the Middle East.


One who accepts Zoroastrianism, a Persian religion founded in the sixth century B.C.E. by the prophet Zoroaster. It is characterized by the worship of a supreme god, Ahura Mazda, who requires good deeds to help in his struggle against the evil spirit Ahriman.


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