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Glossary of Terms

Hover over each term (marked with a double underline) for a definition.

To differentiate between legitimate criticism and anti-Semitism, Israeli politician and author (and former Soviet dissident) Natan Sharansky proposed the “3D Test”: Does the disapproval target specific policies?  Or does it deny Israel’s right to exist (delegitimization), paint it as a pariah state (demonization), or disproportionately single out Israel using criteria not applied to other countries (double standard)?
Hatred of or discrimination against Jews.  Manifestations include hostile stereotypes and caricatures of Jews; false allegations of Jewish misdeeds that promote hatred against all Jews (“blood libel”); and its modern version, denial of Jewish peoplehood and self-determination (see anti-Zionism and 3-D Test).
Opposition to the idea of a Jewish state, Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people (see Zionism).  If applied to all nation-states, this is a general anti-nationalist (or “post-nationalist”) ideology.  Applied only to Israel and the Jewish people, it is a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism.
A system of legal segregation and discrimination between classes of citizens based on their race, as practiced in South Africa from 1948 to 1993.  Does not apply to Israel, where the Arab minority enjoys full citizenship with equal political and legal rights.
The first international endorsement of Jewish nationalism (Zionism), by Britain in November 1917, which promised to create “a Jewish national home” in Palestine.
An anti-Israel campaign aiming to delegitimize the Jewish state and single it out for disproportionate, discriminatory and punitive measures.
One of Sharansky’s “3D tests” to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism: Is the very existence of Israel in question, rather than any specific person or policy?
: One of Sharansky’s “3D tests” to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism: Is Israel described in extreme terms, as evil incarnate?  Does the critic use Nazi or Apartheid analogies, or other inflammatory language designed to incite and provoke rather than stimulate debate?
: One of Sharansky’s “3D tests” to distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism: Is Israel being evaluated and judged by standards not applied to any other country?
Areas of Jerusalem captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.  Includes Temple Mount, a site holy to both Jews and Muslims.  To Israel, a united Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and their state.  To Arabs, East Jerusalem is the capital of a future Palestinian state.
A major Palestinian political party, founded in 1954 by Yasser Arafat with a nationalist, secular agenda.  According to the Fatah constitution, its main goal is the “complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.”  Considered moderate in Palestinian politics, but also includes a terrorist faction, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.
An area between Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea of about 139 sq. mi. and home to approximately 1.6 million Palestinians.  The Strip was occupied by Egypt from 1948 to 1967 and by Israel from 1967 to 2005, and is now ruled by the Islamic party (and designated terrorist organization) Hamas.
A set of international treaties and protocols negotiated after World War II and ratified since 1949 by 194 countries that have agreed to be bound by its rules—including rules regarding protection of civilians—in international armed conflicts.
A Palestinian party, officially the “Islamic Resistance Movement,” that currently rules the Gaza Strip.  Hamas is opposed to negotiations or co-existence with Israel, and is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. and the European Union.
Arabic for “popular uprising,” the term describes the Palestinian revolt of 1987-1993 (“First Intifada”) and the terrorism campaign of 2000-2005 (“Second Intifada”) that killed over 1,000 Israeli civilians.
More than a religion, Judaism is a national identity, like being Irish or Japanese. An independent Jewish state existed in the Land of Israel from 950 BCE to 586 BCE and again from 135 BCE to 70 CE, and Jews maintained their unique communal identity throughout centuries of dispersion. The word “Jew” derives from the region of Judea, in the south of today’s West Bank.
The idea that Israel is the state not only of its citizens, both Jewish and Arab, but also of the Jewish people everywhere.  Judaism is Israel’s national religion (though it recognizes other religions and respects freedom of religion) and part of its national identity and character.
Following World War I, the League of Nations—the predecessor to the U.N.—created administrative territories in the Middle East and Africa to be managed by Britain, France, and Belgium.  The regions of Palestine (including today’s Jordan) and Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq) were placed under British Mandates in 1920, as a transition stage to national independence.
Arabic for “disaster” or “catastrophe,” the term used to describe the 1948 Israeli-Arab war that established Israel and displaced hundreds of thousands of Arabs from their homes in Palestine (see refugees).
Usually refers to the West Bank, captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War.  Sometimes includes the Golan Heights (captured from Syria) and East Jerusalem, both formally annexed by Israel and more accurately described as “disputed territories.”  Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, though Israel and Egypt still control its borders.  Anti-Israel extremists sometimes refer to all of Israel as “occupied” Palestinian land, undermining the state’s legitimacy.
The idea that Jews and Arabs should live in a single country.  The term usually implies an Arab majority and negation of a Jewish state (see anti-Zionism).  This “solution” denies both peoples the right for political self determination in their own states (see Two-State Solution).
The 1992 Declaration of Principles between Israel and the Palestinians that endorsed a two-state solution and created the Palestinian Authority as a precursor to an independent Palestinian state.
The official governing organization of the Palestinians, established by the 1992 Oslo Accords.  Has administrative responsibility for the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including all civil matters and internal security (but not external security or foreign affairs).
Arabs of the former Ottoman- and British-ruled region of Palestine and their descendants.  Includes Arab citizens of Israel (about 1.5 million); the Arabs of the West Bank (2.5M) and Gaza Strip (1.6M); Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria (2.9M); and a diaspora of Palestinian descent.  Until 1947, the term referred to both Jews and Arabs who lived under the British Mandate for Palestine.[/tippy

Hundreds of thousands of Arabs who lost their homes in Palestine during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, as well as millions of their descendants, many of whom still live in U.N.-managed refugee camps throughout the Middle East.  Hundreds of thousands of Jews were also expelled from Arab countries following the establishment of Israel, and settled and absorbed in Israel and elsewhere. more…

Often a euphemism for terrorism (especially “armed resistance”), including campaigns of suicide terrorism (the Second Intifada) and rocket attacks indiscriminately targeting Israeli civilians.
Israel, as the Jewish state, accepts as a citizen any Jew who chooses to immigrate to Israel.  Palestinians also claim a similar right to citizenship for descendants of Palestinian refugees who choose to live in a future state of Palestine.  (“Return” to Israel, rather than to the future Palestinian state, undermines the assumptions of a two-state solution.)
A barrier erected on the West Bank between Jewish communities (“settlements”) and Palestinian population centers.  Its stated (and accomplished) goal was to reduce terrorist infiltrations and attacks against Israelis during the Second Intifada.  Most of it (95%) is a chain-link fence with advanced intrusion-detection systems; in areas prone to sniper fire, it is a concrete wall.
Jewish civilian communities—cities and towns—in the West Bank.  To some anti-Israel extremists, all Jewish presence in Israel is “settlements,” i.e., not legitimate. more…
A war between Israel on one side and Egypt, Syria and Jordan on the other in June 1967.  The war was instigated by Egypt’s expulsion of U.N. inspectors on the Sinai Peninsula and closing of the Straits of Tiran, the southern international shipping route to Israel.  Israel won the war, capturing the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria.
An area of about 35 acres (0.05 sq mi) in the Old City of Jerusalem that contains holy sites to both Jews (the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish Temple, built by King Solomon in 957 BCE) and Muslims (the al-Aqsa Mosque, established in 705 CE, and the Dome of the Rock, completed in 692 CE).
The idea that there is room in the land of Israel/Palestine for two independent sovereign states, a Jewish state of Israel and an Arab state of Palestine.  First proposed in 1937, and endorsed by the U.N. Partition Plan in 1947 and the Oslo Accords in 1992.  The borders between the two states, the future of Jerusalem, the fate of Arabs citizens of Israel and Jews living in Palestine, and many other thorny issues have not yet been resolved.
U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 of November 29, 1947, which called for the establishment of an independent Jewish state and independent Arab state in the former British-ruled Palestine.  The Partition Plan was accepted by the Jews of Palestine but not by its Arab population and neighboring states, and was never put into effect.
The allegation that one or both sides in the Israel-Palestinian conflict has violated international laws and norms of armed combat, such as by intentionally targeting civilians, using outlawed weapons, or hiding combatants behind civilian “human shields.”
The eastern areas of the Land of Israel/Palestine—the regions of Judea and Samaria—occupied from 1948 to 1967 by Jordan and since 1967 by Israel, and assumed to be the main part of a future independent Palestinian state in a two-state solution.
The national movement of the Jewish people; the desire for Jewish political self-determination and a modern-day independent Jewish state in the Land of Israel.