T E R M S
A
Aliyah
Allah
Anti-Semitism
Ashkenazim
B
C
D
Diaspora
E
F
Fatah (CC)
Fatwah
G
Green Line
H
Hadith
Haganah
al-Haram ash-Sharif
Hudna
I
Indigenous
Intifada
Israel
J
Jihad
K
Kibbutz
Knesset
Koran
L
Land for peace
M
Mandate
Mosque
N
Nakba
O
One-State Solution (Bi-National State)
One-State Solution (Democratic Secular State)

P
Palestine
PLC
PLO (EC)
PLO (NAD)
PNC
Q
Quartet
R
Road map to peace
S
Sephardic
Settlements
Sharia
Shiism
Sunnism
Synagogue
T
Temple Mount
Terrorism
Torah
U
United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)
V
W
Wadi
Western Wall
X
Y
Z
Zionism

Glossary

 

TERM

 

DEFINITION

 

Aliyah

"A term used in modern Judaism especially for migration (Literal Hebrew, 'going up') to the land of Israel."
Source: Jewish Virtual Library, Glossary, Aliyah


Allah

"Allah is the Arabic word for God. The etymology of Allah has been described literally as 'that which is worthy of worship...' Some Muslims feel they cannot say the word God but must use the word Allah even in English, as only the original Arabic can convey the notion of God properly."
Source: Out There News, Islam Glossary, Allah


Anti-Semitism

"The attributing of all or part of one's own misfortunes, and those of one's country, to the presence of Jewish elements in the community, and proposing to remedying this state of affairs by depriving the Jews of certain of their rights; by keeping them out of certain economic or social activities, by expelling them from the country, by exterminating them etc."
Source: Jean Paul Sartre, Anti-Semite and Jew , 1965


Ashkenazim

"The Ashkenazim are Jews with origins in Europe and North America; some of their fathers and grandfathers settled as the original Zionist pioneers in Palestine before the creation of the Jewish state."
Source: David K. Shipler, Arab and Jew, 2002


Diaspora

"Refers to the Jews living in scattered communities outside Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) during and after the Babylonian Captivity (sixth century B.C.) and, especially, after the dispersion of the Jews from the region after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in A.D. 70 and the Bar-Kokhba War in A.D. 132-35. In modern times the word refers to the Jews living outside Palestine or present-day Israel. When the word is applied -- usually lowercased -- to non-Jews, such as the Palestinian Arab refugees, the word describes the situation of the people of one country dispersed into other countries."
Source: Country Studies, Israel, Library of Congress, 1988


Fatah Central Committee

Executive body of Fatah; consists of 21 members "unanimously in charge of all the movement's activities"
Source: Fatah Constitution "The Central Committee"

 

Fatwah
"A fatwa is an Islamic religious ruling, a scholarly opinion on a matter of Islamic law. A fatwa is issued by a recognized religious authority in Islam. But since there is no hierarchical priesthood or anything of the sort in Islam, a fatwa is not necessarily 'binding' on the faithful. The people who pronounce these rulings are supposed to be knowledgeable, and base their rulings in knowledge and wisdom. They need to supply the evidence from Islamic sources for their opinions, and it is not uncommon for scholars to come to different conclusions regarding the same issue."
Source: About.com - Islam
 

Green Line

"Name given to the 1949 Armistice lines that constituted the de facto borders of pre-1967 Israel."
Source: Country Studies, Israel, Library of Congress, 1988


Hadith

"The corpus of traditions, transmitted through the generations and describing the actions and utterances of the Prophet [Muhammad]."
Source: Bernard Lewis, Islam and the West, 1993


Haganah

"The underground military organization of the yishuv in Eretz Yisrael from 1920 to 1948... In June 1920, the Haganah was founded.

In the spring of 1947, David Ben-Gurion took it upon himself to direct the general policy of the Haganah, especially in preparation for impending Arab attack. On May 26 1948, the Provisional Government of Israel decided to transform the Haganah into the regular army of the State, to be called 'Zeva Haganah Le-Yisrael'[Israel Defence Force]"
Source: Jewish Virtual Library, Apr. 20, 2007


Hudna "A truce is referred to in Arabic as a 'hudna.' Typically covering 10 years, a hudna is recognized in Islamic jurisprudence as a legitimate and binding contract. A hudna extends beyond the Western concept of a cease-fire and obliges the parties to use the period to seek a permanent, nonviolent resolution to their differences. The Koran finds great merit in such efforts at promoting understanding among different people. Whereas war dehumanizes the enemy and makes it easier to kill, a hudna affords the opportunity to humanize one’s opponents and understand their position with the goal of resolving the intertribal or international dispute."
Source: Ahmad Yusuf, "Pause for Peace," New York Times, Nov. 1, 2006


 
Indigenous

"Having originated in and being produced, growing, or living naturally in a particular region or environment."
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "Indigenous"


Intifada

"Arabic word stands for shaking off or shivering because of fear or illness. It also means abrupt and sudden waking up from sleep or unconcerned status. Politically, the word came to symbolize the Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation."


Israel

"He [Jacob] wrestled with a man until the break of day. As the dawn broke, Jacob demanded a blessing from the man, and the 'man' revealed himself as an angel. He blessed Jacob and gave him the name 'Israel' (Yisrael), meaning 'the one who wrestled with G-d' or 'the Champion of G-d.' The Jewish people are generally referred to as the Children of Israel, signifying our descent from Jacob."
Source: Judaism 101, Jacob (Israel)


Jihad

"One of the basic tasks bequeathed to Muslims by the Prophet was jihad. This word comes from the Arabic root j-h-d, with the basic meaning of striving or effort. It is often used in classical texts with the closely related meaning of struggle, and hence also of fight. It is usually cited in the Qur'anic phrase 'striving in the path of God' (e.g., IX, 24; LX 1 et cetera) and has been variously interpreted to mean moral striving and armed struggle."
Source: Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam, 2003


Kibbutz

"The kibbutz (Hebrew word for 'communal settlement') is a unique rural community; a society dedicated to mutual aid and social justice; a socioeconomic system based on the principle of joint ownership of property, equality and cooperation of production, consumption and education; the fulfillment of the idea 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs'; a home for those who have chosen it."
Source: Jewish Virtual Library


Knesset

"The Knesset is the house of representatives (the parliament) of the State of Israel"
Source: Knesset Website


Koran (Qur'an)

"Orthodox Muslims have always believed that the Qur'an is the Word of God, revealed in the Arabic language through an angel to Muhammad."
Source: Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples, 1991


Land for peace "UN Security Council Resolution 242 established the principle thereafter referred to in shorthand as ‘land for peace.’ Specifically, Resolution 242 asserted the non-admissibility of the acquisition of territory through force, and stipulated that Israel should ultimately return ‘territories’ occupied through the course of the 1967 conflict [Six-Day War]. This principle has shaped subsequent negotiations and diplomacy."
Source: Vaughn Lowe, The United Nations Security Council and War: Evolution of Thought and Practice Since 1945, 2008

Mandate

"An order or commission granted by the League of Nations to a member nation for the establishment of a responsible government over a former German colony or other conquered territory."
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "Mandate"


Mosque

"An Islamic place of public worship. In Arabic, masjid (place of prostration)."
Source: Dilip Hiro, The Essential Middle East, 2003


Nakba

Arabic for "catastrophe." For Palestinians, nakba refers to "the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948."
Source: Electronic Intifada, (accessed June 25, 2008)


One-State Solution (Bi-National State) "In a bi-national state, Jews and Palestinians would coexist as separate communities in a federal arrangement. Each people would run its own affairs autonomously and be guaranteed the legal right to use its own language, religion and traditions. Both would participate in government in a single parliament, which would be concerned with matters of supra-communal importance, defense, resources, the economy and so on. Such a state could be modeled on the cantonal structure of Switzerland or the bi-national arrangement of Belgium. In the Palestine/Israel case, the cantonal structure would be based on the present demographic pattern of the country where densely Arab populated areas like the Galilee would become Arab cantons, and Jewish ones like Tel Aviv would be Jewish cantons, and so on. This leaves a number of practical issues to be resolved, as for example, the exact composition and powers of the parliament, the exercise of the right of return for Jews and that for Arabs and so on."
Source: Ghadi Karmi, PhD "A Secular Democratic State in Historic Palestine: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?”, Al-ADab, July 2002


One-State Solution (Democratic Secular State) "The democratic secular state...envisions a one-man, one-vote polity without reference to ethnicity or creed [as in the bi-national state]. It would aim to create an equitable pluralist society on the Western democratic model, and is opposed to an arrangement of separate communities."
Source: Ghadi Karmi, PhD "A Secular Democratic State in Historic Palestine: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?”, Al-ADab, July 2002


Palestine

"Historic Palestine refers to the land between the Mediterranean Sea, southern Syria, the Jordan River, and the Negev Desert. The name 'Palestine,' originated from the Philistines, the biblical people of Greek ancestry who once conquered the land that is today the State of Israel and the occupied territories [West Bank & Gaza Strip]. The actual term 'Palestine' did not enter into common usage until A.D. 135, when it was adopted by the Roman emperor Hadrian. It was employed through the Muslim conquests in the seventh century and fell out of usage with the fall of the Christian crusader kingdom in 1099. The territory was informally called Palestine under the Ottoman Empire, which controlled the area from 1517 through the end of the first world war. With the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the British officially revived the name under their mandate."
Source: Jennifer Miller, Inheriting the Holy Land: An American's Search for Hope in the Middle East, 2005


PLO Executive Committee

The "government in exile" of the State of Palestine; Executive body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), consists of eighteen members elected by the Palestine National Committee (PNC)
Source: Palestinian Authority, "PLO Executive Committee," online, as of Jan. 2005


Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC)

Legislative body of the Palestinian Authority (PA); consists of 88 members elected by the Palestinian people in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem (does not represent Palestinians in the Diaspora); Members are independents or affiliated with Fatah, Fida, PFLP, PPP, or Hamas;PLC powers are limited by the Palestinian-Israeli agreements(legislation excludes issues left for the final status negotiations).
Source: Palestinian Authority, online, as of Jan. 2005


PLO Negotiations Affairs Dept. (NAD)

"Established in 1994 in Gaza in order to follow up on the implementation of the Interim Agreement signed between Israel and the PLO...

The Negotiations Affairs Department has two offices – one in Gaza and a second in Ramallah. The NAD office in Gaza is composed of units responsible for Israeli affairs, Israel’s violations of signed agreements, Israel’s colonization, and refugees.

The Ramallah office is responsible for following up on the Interim Agreements and preparing Palestinian positions for the Permanent Status talks with Israel. The office is therefore structured into six units: Israeli Affairs, Research and Information, Interim Agreement, Permanent Status, Public Relations, and Administrative and Finance."
Source: PLO (NAD), "About Us" online, as of Jan. 2005


PNC

Palestinian National Council: ultimate decision making body and legislative authority of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). It formulates policies and sets guidelines for the Executive.


Quartet

"The Office of the Quartet Representative (OQR) works with the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel, international organisations and NGOs to help build the institutions and economy for a future Palestinian state. The OQR seeks to achieve the objective of the Quartet and Quartet Representative...: to promote an end to the Israel-Palestine conflict and bring stability to the Middle East.

The Quartet was established in 2002 and is composed of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia. In accordance with the Quartet’s mandate, the Quartet Representative works with a team of international diplomats and development experts in Jerusalem and London. The OQR’s guiding principle is that improved social and economic conditions should promote increased confidence, trust and broad support by both Palestinians and Israelis for a just, lasting and credible peace agreement. Through sustained and intensive consultation with the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel, the international community and civil society, the OQR works to secure a two-state solution, with two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders."
Source: "About OQR," Office of the Quartet Representative Tony Blair website (accessed Jan. 9, 2011)


 

Road map to peace "The road map is an internationally devised peace plan, drawn up by the US, the UN, the EU and Russia - with Israeli and Palestinian consultation - that seeks a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That means setting up an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the two occupied territories, alongside Israel. The plan was published in 2003 with the backing of the US president, George Bush... He told a summit of Arab leaders in Egypt he wanted to see a ‘a continuous territory that the Palestinians can call home.’

The plan sets out to achieve this by 2005 in three stages. The first demands an immediate cessation of Palestinian violence, reform of Palestinian political institutions, the dismantling of Israeli settlement outposts built since March 2001 and a progressive Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories in a series of confidence building measures. Next comes the creation of an independent Palestinian state and an international conference on the road map. The third and final stage will seek a permanent end to the conflict with an agreement on final borders, the status of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees and Israeli settlements. Arab states will also agree peace deals with Israel."
Source: "The Road Map to Peace," Guardian Unlimited, June 4, 2003


Sephardic

"The Sephardim, a term initially applied to the Jews in Spain, now include those with origins mostly in the Muslim countries of North Africa and the Middle East, as well as those from Sephardi communities in Greece, Bulgaria, South America, India, and elsewhere. Colloquially, they are also known as Oriental or Eastern Jews. Although some families can trace their presence in Palestine back for six or eight generations, Sephardim began arriving in Israel in large numbers only during the 1950's, well after the Ashkenazi establishment was firmly in place."
Source: David K. Shipler, Arab and Jew, 2002


Settlements

"New towns for Israeli settlers built in the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza after they were seized by Israel in the wake of the 1967 war. The Israeli government has been building these settlements since the 1970s. Palestinians say these settlements represent a colonization of Palestinian lands; but the Israeli settler movement and its political supporters say these lands are part of the ancient biblical state of Israel. The construction of new settlements accelerated in the 1990s. Today, an estimated 210,500 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank, some 8,000 in Gaza and another 180,000 have settled in what was Arab East Jerusalem before 1967."
Source: National Public Radio (NPR), A Glossary of Mideast Terms, Feb. 23, 2005


Sharia

"(Arabic: way or road): Islamic Law: Consisting of divine revelation in the form of the Quran and the prophetic practice, sunna (as recorded in the Hadith), the Sharia completely governs the individual and the social life of the believer. The Quaran provides the principles and the Hadith the details of their application. The Sharia is the basis for judging actions as good or evil."
Source: Dilip Hiro, The Essential Middle East, 2003


Shiism

"Shiism is a minority branch of Islam which makes up about one tenth of the total population of the Muslim world. It dates back to the first decades of the Islamic era when the Shiites formed the party (shi'a) of Ali, the fourth Caliph who directly descended from the Prophet, against Mu'awiya, governor of Damascus who claimed the caliphate but had no kinship with Muhammad.

The first Shiites (or Shias) were Arabs who split from the Sunni mainstream in the seventh century AD."
Source: MEDEA, Shiism, Medea's information files, 2000


Sunnism

"It is the main branch of Islam and recognizes the legitimacy of the first four caliphs. It represents the majority of the population in all Arab countries and numbers about 185 million adherents...

A Sunni Muslim should also live according to the rules laid down by the four legal schools: the Maliki, Shafi, Hanafi and Hanbali, which differ among each other on the relative importance given to the consensus about the views expressed in the "hadith" and the freedom of interpretation given to the judges."
Source: MEDEA, Sunnism, Medea's information files, 2000


Synagogue

"The synagogue is the Jewish equivalent of a church, more or less. It is the center of the Jewish religious community: a place of prayer, study and education, social and charitable work, as well as a social center."
Source: Judaism 101, Synagogues, Shuls and Temples , 1995-2001


Temple Mount
(Haram al-Sharif)

"Muslims call it al-Haram ash-Sharif, which includes the Dome of the Rock and al-Masjid al-Aqsa, or 'the furthest mosque...' It is the site of the first and second temple in ancient Jewish times. It is also the place that the prophet Muhammad, according to the Qur'an, was said to have stepped before taking his 'night journey' to heaven, where he met Allah, and received the Islamic commandment to pray five times a day."
Source: Gershom Gorenberg, "The Struggle for the Temple Mount," Middle East Forum Briefing, 2001


Terrorism

"Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or other nature that may be invoked to justify them."

[Editorial Note: Consensus among U.N. member nations has not been reached about the above definition. Dissent is based upon whether or not a distinction should be made between terrorism and the "struggle against foreign occupation". Resolution 51/210 was adopted without a vote.]
Source: United Nations, General Assembly Resolution 51/210, Dec. 17, 1996


Torah

"In its most limited sense, 'Torah' refers to the Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. But the word 'torah' can also be used to refer to the entire Jewish bible (the body of scripture known to non-Jews as the Old Testament and to Jews as the Tanakh or Written Torah), or in its broadest sense, to the whole body of Jewish law and teachings."
Source: Judaism 101, Torah , 1995-1999


United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) "Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees.

The Agency began operations on 1 May 1950. In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2017...

UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees. It has contributed to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees, defined as 'persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.' The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.

UNRWA services are available to all those living in its areas of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. When the Agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services."
Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency, "Who We Are," www.unrwa.org (accessed July 9, 2015)

Wadi

"1: the bed or valley of a stream in regions of southwestern Asia and northern Africa that is usually dry except during the rainy season and that often forms an oasis : gully, wash

2: a shallow usually sharply defined depression in a desert region"
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary, "Wadi" (accessed Apr. 10, 2008)


The Western Wall (The Wailing Wall)

"The Wailing Wall is part of the massive retaining wall, made up of stones, that the Roman king of Judaea/Judea, Herod, erected at the western southern, and eastern borders of the Second Temple atop Mount Moriah in Jerusalem after extending the outer courtyard of the Temple. As the only remnant of the Second Temple, razed in A.D. 70, it is the most sacred site of Judaism."
Source: Dilip Hiro, The Essential Middle East, 2003


Zionism

"An international movement originated for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine and later for the support of modern Israel."
Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary , "Zionism"