The following glossary defines references to the Arab World, Islam, the Holy Land and, most particularly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The glossay will be updated with new terms, as they appear in the media, and amended as old terms take on new meanings.
Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades
Paramilitary group loyal to Yasir Arafat’s Fatah organization; founded after the eruption of the second intifada on Sept. 28, 2000, the day Ariel Sharon, then Israel’s right-wing opposition leader, went to Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque to press his claim of Israeli sovereignty over Islam’s third holiest site. See: Fatah.
Al Haram al Sherif
English: the Noble Sanctuary. Arabic name for the plaza in Jerusalem where the Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque are located. Muslims revere the site as the area where Prophet Muhammad broke his miraculous night journey from Mecca to heaven. Jews revere the area as the location of the First and Second Temples, and refer to the area above and to the east of the Western Wall as Har Ha Moriyya or Har Ha Bayt in Hebrew and as the Temple Mount in English. Some Jewish radicals advocate the construction of a third Temple there. Use Hebrew and Arabic equivalents or use two English equivalents. See: Western Wall; Temple Mount Faithful.
Hebrew meaning “going up.” Refers to the immigration of Jews to Israel. Since 1948, about 2,900,000 Jews have immigrated to Israel. [www.aliyah.-org] See: Law of Return
Al-Jazeera (or Al-Jazira) Satellite Channel
Founded in Qatar in 1996, JSC is a 24-hour station dedicated to news, news analyses, talk shows, and documentaries; it has replaced CNN as the major source of news for the Arab world on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Its impact on the Arab world is significant. By beaming scenes of Israel’s occupation hourly into Arab homes and schools, it has made its viewers real-time participants in these events, much as CNN made Americans real-time participants in the events of September 11, 2001.
Arabic for God. Not exclusively the God of Muslims, since Arabic-speaking Christians and Jews use the same term. See: God.
Annexation, Annexed Territories
Following the 1967 war, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and a portion of the West Bank, extending the borders of Jerusalem by some 55 square miles. In 1981, Israel annexed Syria’s Golan Heights. Both these annexations are considered illegal under United Nations resolutions. The United States regards the annexed territories as areas to be dealt with in final peace negotiations. Settlements for Jewish residents have been and are being constructed in the annexed areas and in other parts of the West Bank and Gaza. [www.arij.org] See: East Jerusalem; Golan Heights; Green Line; Occupied Territories; U.N. Resolutions.
Discrimination against, or persecution of, Semitic people. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term was first used with specific reference to Jews in the 1880s, although for hundreds of years and in many countries Jews and Arabs, who are also Semites, have been denied full rights as citizens and have suffered economic discrimination, social ostracism, and persecution. Historically, anti-Semitism toward Jews has been especially harsh in predominantly Christian nations in Europe, culminating in pogroms, the Inquisition, and the Holocaust. Generally used to describe negative attitudes toward Jews. See: Semitic Peoples.
Confederation of Arab states founded in 1945. Membership comprises 22 Arab states, including Palestine, which was admitted as a full member in 1976. The League, headquartered in Cairo, Egypt, has observer status at the United Nations. Its summit meetings are seen as indicators of the level of Arab unity.
Arab, Arabic, Arabians
An Arab is a person whose native tongue is Arabic, generally one who comes from the Middle East or North Africa. Arabs are not a religious group but a linguistic and cultural group of Semitic origin. Arabic is the language used throughout the region and also liturgically by Muslims worldwide. Arabians are people who live in, or have migrated from, the Arabian Peninsula. [www.albab/com/arab/countries/palestine] See: Israeli Arabs.
Areas A, B, C
The 1995 Oslo II Agreement divided the Palestinian territories, excluding East Jerusalem, into three zones: Area A, comprising disconnected districts, includes 17.2 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and is under the full security and civil control of the Palestinian Authority. Area B, 23.8 percent, is under Israeli security control, while the Palestinian Authority is responsible for some social and civil services. Area C, approximately 59 percent, is under full Israeli occupation. The three areas were theoretically a first step in Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, as required under U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338. Further significant withdrawals, to be completed by May 1999, never took place. See Occupied Territories; Autonomous Areas; U.N. Resolutions.
Ashkenazi (plural, Ashkenazim)
Jews in general are officially divided into Ashkenazim (from Germany, and by extension, Europe) and Sephardim (from Spain, and by extension, the Middle East and North Africa). Since most Jews of European ancestry are Ashkenazim, the term denotes both sectarian affiliation and geographic origin. Israeli Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, however, are described as Sephardim in sectarian terms, and Mizrachim (Orientals) geographically. In the early years, the Zionist movement was almost wholly Ashkenazi. Of the 717,000 Jews in Israel in 1948, Ashkenazim numbered 80 percent; and of the 37 Jewish leaders on stage when David Ben-Gurion declared the state of Israel in 1948, one was from Palestine, one from Yemen, and 35 from Europe and Russia. By the mid-1960s, Mizrachim surpassed the Ashkenazim, due to immigration and a higher birth rate. Today, due to Russian immigration, their numbers are about equal. See: Jews, Judaism; Zionism.
As a result of Oslo I in 1993, Oslo II in 1995, and the 1997 Hebron Agreement, seven Palestinian cities in the West Bank, 60 percent of the Gaza Strip, and 80 percent of Hebron are considered autonomous areas under Palestinian jurisdiction. Other parts of the West Bank and Gaza (Areas B and C) are under joint or exclusively Israeli jurisdiction. See: Areas A,B,C.
Statement issued in a letter on November 2, 1917 by the British Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur Balfour to a private British subject, Lord Lionel Rothschild of the World Zionist Federation. It said: “His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” Two years later, Balfour, commenting on his declaration, wrote: “For in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country, though the American Commission has been going through the form of asking what they are. The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land. In my opinion that is right.” In 1948, Israel’s Declaration of Independence said: “The right [of Jews to national restoration in Palestine] was acknowledged by the Balfour Declaration.”
Israel has never officially fixed its territorial borders. When David Ben-Gurion announced the creation of the state of Israel on 14 May 1948, he refused to define its borders, saying, “We are announcing the creation of a state in the Western part of our country.” And in his diaries (“Rebirth and Destiny of Israel”) he wrote “...we have to set up a dynamic state bent upon expansion” in order to accommodate the ingathering of Jews from around the world. Within Israel today the question of borders is controversial since some Israeli Jews refer to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria and as part of Greater or Eretz Israel. Israeli peace groups, such as Gush Shalom, call for the pre-1967 borders, or green line, to be accepted as the “border of peace.” Agreements at Taba, Egypt, in January 2001 (later repudiated by Israel) acknowledged the 1967 borders as the basis for lasting peace. [www.Gush-Shalom.org/Jerusalem] See: Aliyah; Green Line; Peace Organizations; U.N. Resolutions; Zionism.
Paved highways built by Israel on confiscated Palestinian land within the West Bank and Gaza to facilitate travel for Jewish settlers to Jerusalem, other Israeli cities, and other settlements. Between 1977 and 1999 Israel built 750 miles of these roads, often dividing Palestinian communities and making it impossible for some farmers to reach their fields. Bypass roads also extend Israel’s de facto borders beyond the green line and around an expanded Jerusalem [www.palestinemonitor.org/factsheet].