International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Middle East Glossary


ABSENTEE PROPERTY LAW - 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.

ABU MAZEN-BEILIN PLAN - An agreement drawn up by Abu Mazen of the PLO and Israeli deputy FM Yossi Beilin. The plan proposed Israel's annexation of 4-5% 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.

ADHAN - (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.

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

AL-AMAL - ("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.

AL-AQSA INTIFADA - 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.

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

AL HAQ - (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 QUDS - (Arabic, "The holy"). Arabic name for 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).

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.

ALLAH - 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.

ALLAHU AKBAR - (Arabic) "God is great," "God is the greatest."

ALLIANCE ISRAELITE UNIVERSELLE - 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.

ALLON PLAN - 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.

AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE - (popularly known as the JDC or the "Joint"). American Jewry's overseas relief and rehabilitation agency founded in 1914.

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

AMMAN - Capital city of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAWS - 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).

ARAB BOYCOTT - 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.

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

ARAB LEAGUE - 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.

ARAB NATIONS - 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.

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

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. 

ARAVA - ("steppe," "desert"). a stretch of depressed ground between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Eilat.

AREAS A, B, C - 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.

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

ASHKENAZI(M) - (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.

ASSALAMU ALAIKUM - (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."

ASSOCIATION FOR CIVIL RIGHTS IN ISRAEL (ACRI) - The largest civil rights organization in Israel, which was founded in 1972.

AUTONOMY PLAN - 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.

AYATOLLAH - 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.

B'NAI B'RITH - World's oldest and largest Jewish organization, founded in 1843 in New York, concerned with protecting Jewish interests around the world.

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

BA'TH - ("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.

BALFOUR DECLARATION - 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. 

BEDOUINS - 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.

BEIRUT - The capital of Lebanon.

BEN-GURION, DAVID - (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. 

BETAR - 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.

BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY - The first Palestinian university in the West Bank.

BLACK SEPTEMBER - 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.

BLOOD LIBEL - 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.

BRITISH MANDATE - 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.

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

CAIRO AGREEMENT - 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.

CALIPH - 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.

CAMP DAVID ACCORDS - 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.

CAMP DAVID 2000 - 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.

CHRISTIAN ZIONISM - 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.

CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHER - 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.

CONSERVATIVE JUDAISM - 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.

CORPUS SEPARATUM - 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.

CRUSADES - 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.

CUSTODIAN OF ABSENTEE PROPERTY - 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.

DAMASCUS - Capital city of Syria.

DAR AL-ISLAM - (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.

DAR AL-HARB - (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.

DATI/LO DATI - 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.

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE - 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.

DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES (DOP) - 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.

DEMOCRATIC FRONT OF THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE (DFLP) - 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.

DEMOGRAPHY - 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.

DEVELOPMENT TOWNS - 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.

DHIMMA - 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.

DIASPORA - (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. 

DISENGAGEMENT - 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.

DOLPHINARIUM - 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.  The victims: Marina Berkovizki, 17, of Tel Aviv; Roman Dezanshvili, 21, of Bat Yam; Ilya Gutman, 19, of Bat Yam; Anya Kazachkov, 16, of Holon; Katherine Kastaniyada-Talkir, 15, of Ramat Gan; Aleksei Lupalu, 16, of the Ukraine; Mariana Medvedenko, 16, of Tel Aviv; Irina Nepomneschi, 16, of Bat Yam; Yelena Nelimov, 18, of Tel Aviv; Yulia Nelimov, 16, of Tel Aviv; Raisa Nimrovsky, 15, of Netanya; Pvt. Diez (Dani) Normanov, 21, of Tel Aviv; Simona Rodin, 18, of Holon; Ori Shahar, 32, of Ramat Gan; Liana Sakiyan, 16, of Tel Aviv; Maria Tagilchev, 14, of Netanya; and Irena Usdachi, 18, of Holon. Sergei Pancheskov, 20, of the Ukraine; Yael-Yulia Sklianik, 15, of Holon; Jan Bloom, 25, of Ramat Gan; and Yevgenia Dorfman, 15, of Bat Yam died subsequently from their injuries.

DOME OF THE ROCK - (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.

DRUZE - 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.

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

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

EAST JERUSALEM - 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. 

ERETZ YISRAEL/ISRAEL - (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).

EREZ CHECKPOINT - 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. 

EUROPEAN UNION - Economic union of 25 European countries.

EUROPEAN UNION SPECIAL ENVOY - 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.

FAHD PLAN - 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.

FATAH - 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.

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

FEDAYEE - (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.

FELLAH - (plural fellaheen) An Arab peasant or laborer.

FERTILE CRESCENT - 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.

FEZ PLAN - 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.

FINAL STATUS ISSUES - 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.

FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM - 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.

FOURTH GENEVA CONVENTION OF 1949 - (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.

FUNDAMENTALISM - 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.

GABRIEL - 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.

GAZA-JERICHO ACCORD (CAIRO AGREEMENT) - 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.

GAZA STRIP - 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.

GENERAL ZIONISM - 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.

GENEVA CONFERENCES - 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.

GOLAN HEIGHTS - 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. Archaelogical evidence shows an ancient Jewish presence on the Golan Heights.

GREATER SYRIA - 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.

GREEN LINE - 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.

GUSH EMUNIM - (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.

HA'ARETZ - A leading independent newspaper in Israel generally considered to the left of the political spectrum.

HARAM ASH-SHARIF - 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.

HA-SHOMER HA-ZA'IR - Zionist socialist pioneering youth movement founded in 1916 in Vienna, which eventually spread around the world.

HADASSAH - Jewish women's Zionist organization headquartered in the United States.

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

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

HAJJ - 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.

HALUTZ, DANIEL (1948- ) - Lieutenant-General, 18th IDF Chief of General Staff.

HAMAS - 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]."

HAREDI - Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel.

HASHEMITE KINGDOM OF JORDAN - 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. 

HEBEW UNIVERSITY BOMBING - 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.

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

HERUT - 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.

HEZBOLLAH/HISBALLAH (PARTY OF GOD) - 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."

HISTADRUT - (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.

HUDNA - 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.

HUSSEIN-MCMAHON CORRESPONDENCE - 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.

IMAM - 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.

INTERIM AGREEMENT ("OSLO II") - 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.

INTIFADA - (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.

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

ISLAM - 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.

ISLAMIC JIHAD - 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.

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

ISRAEL - 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.

ISRAELI ARABS - 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.

ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES (IDF) - (Heb., Tzahal [Tzva Haganah Leyisrael]). The armed services of Israel.

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

IZZ EDDIN AL-QASSEM - 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.

JERUSALEM - 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.

JEWISH AGENCY - 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.

JEWISH REFUGEES FROM ARAB LANDS - 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 number of Jews seeking refuge in Israel from 1948-1972

Morocco 260,000
Algeria 14,000
Tunisia 56,000
Libya 35,000
Egypt 89,525
Lebanon 6,000
Syria 4,500
Iraq 129,000
Yemen and Aden 50,552

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

JIHAD - 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.

JUDAISM, JEW - 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.

JUDEA AND SAMARIA - 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/KAHANE CHAI - 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.

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

KAHAN COMMISSION - 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.

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

KIBBUTZ - (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.

KIRYAT ARBA - Israeli community near the town of Hebron.

KLITA - Absorption; social and economic integration of immigrants.

KNESSET - 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. 

KORAN - 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. 

KOSHER - (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.

KOTEL - See Western Wall.

LABOR PARTY - 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 OF ISRAEL, "ISRAEL" - 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.

LAND DAY - 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.

LAND FOR PEACE - 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.

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

LAW OF RETURN - 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.

LEAGUE OF ARAB STATES - 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.

LEBANON WAR (OPERATION PEACE FOR GALILEE) - 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.

LEGAL RIGHTS - 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.

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

LOAN GUARANTEES - 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.

MAARIV - (from Heb., "evening"). Jewish synagogue evening prayer or service. See also liturgy.

MADRID PEACE CONFERENCE - 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.

MANDATE, PALESTINE - 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.

MASADA - 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.  The victims: Admiral (res.) Ze'ev Almog, 71, of Haifa, and his wife Ruth Almog, 70; their son Moshe Almog, 43, and grandsons Tomer Almog, 9, and Assaf Staier, 11, all of Haifa; Zvi Bahat, 35, of Haifa; Mark Biano, 29, of Haifa, and his wife Naomi Biano, 25; Hana Francis, 39, of Fassouta; Mutanus Karkabi, 31, of Haifa; Sharbal Matar, 23, of Fassouta; Osama Najar, 28, of Haifa, cook; Nir Regev, 25, of Nahariya; Irena Sofrin, 38, of Kiryat Bialik; Bruria Zer-Aviv, 59, her son Bezalel Zer-Aviv, 30, and his wife Keren Zer-Aviv, 29, with their children Liran, 4, and Noya, 1, all of Kibbutz Yagur. Lydia Zilberstein, 58, died on October 10 and George Matar, 57, died October 15.

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. 

MERETZ - 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.

MIDDLE EAST - (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.

MITCHELL REPORT - 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.

MIZRACHI - 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. 

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

MOSHAV - Cooperative agricultural settlement in Israel. See moshav ovedim.

MOSSAD - (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.

MT. 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.

MUFTI - 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.

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

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

MULTILATERAL TALKS - 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.

MUSLIM BROTHERS/BROTHERHOOD (AL-IKHWAN AL-MUSLIMUN) - 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.

MUSLIM-CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (MCA) - 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.

AN-NAQBA - 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.

NAKBA - (Arabic, "The Catastrophe.") Term used by Palestinians to describe the outcome of the 1948 War.

NATIONAL WATER CARRIER - 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.

NEGEV - The southern, mostly arid region of Israel.

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

NETANYAHU, BENJAMIN (1949- ) - 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. 

OLD CITY - 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).

OPEN BRIDGES POLICY - 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.

OPERATION DEFENSIVE SHIELD - Military operation launched by Israel in 2002 to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank.

OPERATION 'GRAPES OF WRATH' - An Israeli attack on Lebanon in 1996 in retaliation to Hizbollah attacks.

OPERATION LITANI - 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.

OPERATION MOSES - 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.

OPERATION 'PEACE OF GALILEE' - Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 aimed at ending PLO threats to citizens in northern Israel and forcing the PLO out of the country.

OPERATION SHEBA (JOSHUA) - 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.

OPERATION SOLOMON - 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.

OR COMMITTEE - 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.

ORGANIZATION FOR THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE (OIC) - 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.

ORGANIZATION OF THE PETROLEUM EXPORTING COUNTRIES (OPEC) - 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.

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

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

ORTHODOX - 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).

OSLO - 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.

PALESTINE - 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.

PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION (PLO) - 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.

PALESTINE NATIONAL COUNCIL (PNC) - 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.

PALESTINE NATIONAL FRONT (PNF) - Formed in January 1973 to coordinate nationalist resistance. The group was outlawed by Israel in 1978.

PALESTINE PEOPLE'S PARTY - 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 (PA) - 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").

PALESTINIAN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL (PLC) - An outgrowth of the Oslo agreements, the PLC is the legislature of the Palestinian Authority.

PALESTINIAN LIBERATION ARMY (PLA) - Formed in 1964 as the PLO's military branch led by Yasser Arafat. After Oslo this group was observed by the PA security units.

PALESTINE LIBERATION ORGANIZATION (PLO) - Founded in 1964 after an Arab League decision. In 1969 Yasser Arafat took the organization over and merged other organization under it making it the main Palestinian organization.

PALESTINIAN NATIONAL FUND - 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.

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

PALESTINIAN REFUGEES - 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.

PALESTINIANS - 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.

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

PARTITION PLAN(S) - 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.

PASSOVER MASSACRE - 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.  The victims: Shula Abramovitch, 63, of Holon; David Anichovitch, 70, of Netanya; Sgt.-Maj. Avraham Beckerman, 25, of Ashdod; Shimon Ben-Aroya, 42, of Netanya; Andre Fried, 47, of Netanya; Idit Fried, 47, of Netanya; Miriam Gutenzgan, 82, Ramat Gan; Ami Hamami, 44, of Netanya; Perla Hermele, 79, of Sweden; Dvora Karim, 73, of Netanya; Michael Karim, 78, of Netanya; Yehudit Korman, 70, of Ramat Hasharon; Marianne Lehmann Zaoui, 77, of Netanya; Lola Levkovitch, 85, of Jerusalem; Furuk Na'imi, 62, of Netanya; Eliahu Nakash, 85, of Tel-Aviv; Irit Rashel, 45, of Moshav Herev La'et; Yulia Talmi, 87, of Tel-Aviv; St.-Sgt. Sivan Vider, 20, of Bekaot; Ernest Weiss, 79, of Petah Tikva; Eva Weiss, 75, of Petah Tikva; Meir (George) Yakobovitch, 76, of Holon. Chanah Rogan, 92, of Netanya; Zee'v Vider, 50, of Moshav Bekaot; Alter Britvich, 88, and his wife Frieda, 86, of Netanya died of their injuries on April 2-3. Sarah Levy-Hoffman, 89, of Tel-Aviv died of her injuries on April 7. Anna Yakobovitch, 78, of Holon died of her injuries on April 11.

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

PEEL COMMISSION - 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.

PHALANGES LIBANAISES (AL-KATAIB AL-LUBNANIYYA) - 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.

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

PLO CENTRAL COUNCIL (PCC) - 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.

PLO CHARTER - 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.

PLO EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (EC) - 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.

POLITICAL RIGHTS - "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.

POLITICAL ZIONISM - 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.

POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE (PFLP) - 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.

POPULAR FRONT FOR THE LIBERATION OF PALESTINE-GENERAL COMMAND (PFLP-GC) - 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.

POPULAR STRUGGLE FRONT (PSF) - Small anti-Arafat faction of the PLO. Created before 1967 but formally established in July 1967.

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

PRESIDENTS CONFERENCE OF MAJOR AMERICAN JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS - 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.

PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION - 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.

QUALITATIVE MILITARY EDGE - 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.

QUR'AN (KORAN) - Arabic Al Qur'an, "The Recitation." The sacred scriptures of Islam, the religion of the Muslims dictated to Muhammed by the Archangel Gabriel.

QUARTET - 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.

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. 

RAMADAN - 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.

RAMALLAH - 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. 

REAGAN PLAN - 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.

RECONSTRUCTIONIST JUDAISM - 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.

RED MAGEN DAVID - (Hebrew, "Magen David Adom") This Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross is the Hebrew name of the six-pointed Jewish star.

REFORM JUDAISM - 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.

REJECTIONIST FRONT - 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

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM - "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.

RELIGIOUS ZIONISM - 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.

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

"RIGHT OF RETURN" - Claim that Palestinians who fled or were driven out of their homes during the 1947-1949 fighting leading to Israel's independence should be allowed to return to their homes in Israel.

ROAD MAP - 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.

ROGERS PLAN - 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.

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.

SABRA & SHATILA - 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.

AS-SAIQA (STORM, LIGHTNING BLOT) - 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.

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

SBARRO BOMBING - 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.  The victims: Giora Balash, 60, of Brazil; Zvika Golombek, 26, of Carmiel; Shoshana Yehudit Greenbaum, 31, of the U.S.; Tehila Maoz, 18, of Jerusalem; Frieda Mendelsohn, 62, of Jerusalem; Michal Raziel, 16, of Jerusalem; Malka Roth, 15, of Jerusalem; Mordechai Schijveschuurder, 43, of Neria; Tzira Schijveschuurder, 41, of Neria; Ra'aya Schijveschuurder, 14, of Neria; Avraham Yitzhak Schijveschuurder, 4, of Neria; Hemda Schijveschuurder, 2, of Neria; Lily Shimashvili, 33, of Jerusalem; Tamara Shimashvili, 8, of Jerusalem; and Yocheved Shoshan, 10, of Jerusalem. 

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

SDEROT - 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. 

SHARM ESH-SHEIKH AGREEMENT - 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.

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

SEMITE - 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.

SEPHARDI, SEPHARDIM (pl.) - (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.

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

SHABAK - See Shin Bet.

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

SHAMIR, YITZHAK (1915- ) - 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. 

SHARI'AH - (Arabic) Code of law based on the Koran.

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.

SHAW COMMISSION - 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.

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

SHI'A - 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.

SHIN BET - 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.

SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY - 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.

SINAI CAMPAIGN - 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)

SINAI PENINSULA - 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.

SIX-DAY WAR - 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. 

SOCIALIST ZIONISM - 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.

SPIRITUAL ZIONISM - 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.

STAR OF DAVID - 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.

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

STRATEGIC COOPERATION - 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 WAR - 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. 

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

SUNNIS - 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.

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

SYKES-PICOT AGREEMENT - 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.

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

TARGETED KILLINGS - 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

TEL AVIV - 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. 

TEMPLE - 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.

TEMPLE MOUNT - 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.

TENET PLAN - 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.

TERRORISM - 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.

TIBERIAS - One of the famed ancient "walled cities" of Israel, in central Israel, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

TANZIM - 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.

TRIANGLE - Area southeast of Haifa inhabited primarily by Israeli Arabs.

TZAHAL (TZVA HAGANAH LEYISRAEL) - Israel's Defense Forces. See also Israeli Defense Forces.

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

UMMAH - The worldwide community of Muslims.

ULPAN - Class or school for intensive study of Hebrew language.

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 194 - 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.

UNIFIED NATIONAL LEADERSHIP OF THE UPRISING (UNLU) - Umbrella organization of the four major PLO factions plus Islamic Jihad. Organized the first Intifada (1987-93).

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 181 - 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.

UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 194 - 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.

UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSION FOR REFUGEES (UNHCR) - 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.

UNITED NATIONS RELIEF AND WORKS AGENCY (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.

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 242 - 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."

UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION 338 - 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.

UNSCO  - 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.

UNSCOP (UNITED NATIONS SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON PALESTINE) - 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.

UNTSO (UNITED NATIONS TRUCE SUPERVISION ORGANIZATION) - 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.

VALLEY OF TEARS - 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.

VIA DOLOROSA - ("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.

VOTING RIGHTS - 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.

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

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

WAR OF INDEPENDENCE - 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. 

WASHINGTON DECLARATION - 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.

WEST BANK - 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.

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

WESTERN WALL - (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.

WHITE PAPER 1939 - 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.

WOMEN'S RIGHTS -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.

WOODHEAD COMMISSION - 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' RIGHTS - "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."

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

WORLD ZIONIST ORGANIZATION (WZO) - 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.

WYE RIVER MEMORANDUM - 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.

YAD VASHEM - 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. 

YERUSHALAYIM - Hebrew name for Jerusalem.

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

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

YOM HA-ATZMUT - Israeli Independence Day.

YOM HA-SHOAH - Holocaust Remembrance Day.

YOM HA-ZIKKARON - Israeli Memorial Day.

YOM KIPPUR WAR - 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. 

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

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

ZION, ZIONISM - (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.


Materials courtesy of The Israel Project