Just Vision's glossary is comprised of nearly 400 terms related to the Israeli-Palestinian context. Given the rapidly shifting landscape, we recognize this glossary cannot capture the full range of nuances, narratives and historical events. Thus, we hope you to use this glossary as a starting point and encourage you to continue your exploration of this topic through further research. Definitions have been reviewed by Arab, Muslim and Jewish scholars of the Israeli-Palestinian context. Last update and review: January 2012

Full list

1929 Riots

Also known as the Western or Wailing Wall Disturbances, these were the first large-scale occurrences of fighting among Arabs, Jews, and the British mandatory administration of Palestine. Though the deeper causes can be linked to greater tensions between increasing Jewish immigration to further the Zionist movement’s goal of a Jewish national homeland and the Palestinians’ nationalist aspirations, the fighting began over Jewish access to the Western Wall, known as Al-Buraq in Arabic or HaKotel in Hebrew. Jews believe the Western Wall to be the remnants of the Second Temple destroyed by the Roman Empire, which most historians and archaeologists concur with. For Muslims, it is at the base of the Haram Al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary), one of Islam’s holiest sites. Rumors of a Jewish plot to seize control of the holy places began to spread in the late 1920s, and violence erupted by 1929, causing extensive damage. 116 Palestinians and 133 Jews were killed in incidents reaching from Jerusalem, to Hebron, Jaffa and Safad. See: Pappe, Ilan. The Aristocracy of the Land: The Husayni Family. Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 2003 and Mattar, Philip. “Western (Wailing) Wall Disturbances.” Philip Mattar, ed. Encyclopedia of the Palestinians. New York: Facts on File, 2005. See also online: A Country Study: Israel. 1988. Library of Congress. 24 August 2011. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/iltoc.html.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/1929-riots 

1936-1939 Arab Revolts/Riots

Described by some as the First Intifada, this Palestinian Arab uprising was the longest sustained movement of opposition to Zionism during British mandatory control of Palestine. Local rioting erupted on April 19, 1936 in the city of Jaffa but quickly spread throughout Palestine, coordinated with an extensive general strike. The riots followed a massive influx of Jews to Palestine, who fled the rise of Nazism in pre-war Germany. By 1936, the increase in Jewish immigration and land acquisition in Palestine, the growing power of Palestinian Muslim leader Hajj Amin al Husseini, and impatience with colonial rule over local Arab populations prompted Palestinian Arabs to act. The goals of the revolt were to shift British policy against Zionism by limiting or ending the influx of Jews, to ban land transfers to Jews, and to enable Palestinian Arabs to establish their own representative national government. Britain empowered the Peel Commission to investigate the disturbances, which recommended a two-state solution (one Arab and one Jewish) with a British enclave around Jerusalem and a corridor to the sea. The Commission’s report was accepted at the 20th Zionist Congress, but rejected by the Arab Higher Committee, leading to a resumption of riots. The riots were ultimately suppressed by harsh British measures, including the exiling of many Palestinian Arab leaders and the flight of many upper class families. See P Kumaraswamy, P.R. “Arab Revolt.”Historical Dictionary of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Oxford: The Scarecrow Press, 2006; “Arab Revolt.” Bernard Reich, ed. An Historical Encyclopedia of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1996; Farsoun, Samih K. and Naseer H. Aruri. Palestine and the Palestinians, 2nd ed. Boulder: Westview Press, 2006; and A Country Study: Israel. 1988. Library of Congress. 24 August 2011. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/iltoc.html.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/1936-1939-arab-revoltsriots 


In 1948, proceeding the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan that divided the area of Palestine into two states (see Resolution 181/Partition Plan), fighting increased between Palestinians and Jewish Zionists. Israel claimed independence as a state on May 14, which was followed by the entry of troops from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan (then known as Transjordan) into Palestine and subsequent fighting between these Arab troops and the new Israeli army. These events led up to the flight and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the area that became the State of Israel. For details and sources see War of 1948, Al-Nakba and Israeli Independence Day.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/1948

1967 Borders

Also known as the Green Line. Refers to the borders of Israel with Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria prior to the War of 1967. The "1967 Borders" became the political term used in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to describe the borders of a future Palestinian state. During the War of 1967, Israel captured the Egyptian Sinai, the Syrian Golan Heights, Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and the Egyptian-controlled Gaza Strip.See also War of 1967 and Green Line. http://www.justvision.org/glossary/1967-borders

1991 Gulf War

Military action by a United States-led coalition of 32 states to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait on August 2, 1990, and claimed it as an Iraqi province. On January 18, 1991, two days after the American air campaign against Iraq began, Iraqi scud missiles first hit Israel. In total, Iraq launched approximately 40 scuds against Israel in the month that followed. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), unlike most Arab states, supported Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. As a result, the PLO lost diplomatic and financial support from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Kuwait also expelled most of the large Palestinian community in Kuwait, many of whom had lived there for decades, accusing them of supporting the Iraqi invasion. See Mattar, Philip. “Gulf Crisis.” Philip Mattar, ed. Encyclopedia of the Palestinians. New York: Facts on File, 2005; “The Gulf War: Chronology.” PBS. 24 August 2011. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/gulf/cron/;  and “Persian Gulf War.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 24 August 2011. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/452778/Persian-Gulf-War.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/1991-gulf-war

Abbas, Mahmoud

(1935- ) A Palestinian political figure.  He has been a leading figure in Fatah  and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) since the 1960s. Throughout his career, Abbas has been involved in negotiations between Palestinians and the Israeli government, most notably as the leading Palestinian negotiator of the Oslo Accords and as the PLO signatory of the Declaration of Principles in September 1993. Following the death of Yasser Arafat in 2004, the PLO executive committee appointed Abbas as Chairman of the PLO. In January 2005, he was elected President of the Palestinian Authority (PA). He currently maintains both positions, though his four-year term as PA President would have ended in January 2009. However, PA presidential and legislative elections have been delayed. See Fischbach, Michael R. “Abbas, Mahmud.” Philip Mattar, ed. Encyclopedia of the Palestinians. New York: Facts on File, 2005; and “Profile: Mahmoud Abbas.” 5 November 2009. BBC. 13 June 2011. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/1933453.stm. http://www.justvision.org/glossary/abbas-mahmoud 

Abu Dis

A Palestinian town within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, in an area often referred to as East Jerusalem. Est. population in 2007: 10,782, most of whom carry Jerusalem IDs. Israel’s Separation Barrier cuts through Abu Dis. See Jerusalem and Jerusalem ID.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/abu-dis 


(Akka in Arabic and Akko in Hebrew) A city in northern Israel, located along the Mediterranean coast just north of the city of Haifa. Est. population in 2009: 46,400, including Jewish and Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/acre

Adam Institute for Peace and Democracy

An Israeli nonprofit organization founded in 1986 in memory of Emil Greenzweig. Greenzweig, an Israeli peace activist, was killed by a grenade thrown by an Israeli while he was marching in a protest against the 1982 War in Lebanon. The organization develops and implements programs to promote democracy, peace and civic education as well as methods of conflict resolution. See the Institute’s website at http://www.adaminstitute.org.il/english/.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/adam-institute-peace-and-democracy


The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was founded in the 1950s. It is an American lobby group located in Washington, DC seeking to promote the passing of American legislation and government budgetary allocations that they deem favorable to Israel. AIPAC often, though not always, tends to support Israeli government policies. AIPAC is today one of the most influential foreign lobby groups in the United States. See the AIPAC website at http://www.aipac.org.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/aipac

Al-Aqsa Mosque

(Arabic for "the furthest mosque") A mosque located in the Old City of Jerusalem, adjacent to the Dome of the Rock on the area known as the Temple Mount or Haram Al-Sharif (The Noble Sanctuary). The structure was completed in the 7th century, destroyed by an earthquake in the 8th century, and restored to its current structure in the 11th century. While the Dome of the Rock was constructed as a mosque to commemorate the Muslim prophet Mohammad’s Night Journey described in the Qur’an, the building known as Al-Aqsa mosque became a center of worship and learning, attracting great teachers from all over the world. The mosque is currently under the supervision and authority of the Waqf (Islamic Endowment).  The area on which Al-Aqsa Mosque was built is known by Jews as the Temple Mount, the holiest place in Judaism. For Muslims, the area is known as Haram Al-Sharif and is considered Islam’s third holiest site. See the Haram Al-Sharif website at http://www.noblesanctuary.com/index.html.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/al-aqsa-mosque


A village in southern Israel, located 8 km north of the city of Be’er Sheva/Ber Sabe’ in the Negev. Just Vision cannot find recent/reliable population data on Al-Araqib as the Israeli government considers it to be an illegal village and had demolished it several times. Al-Araqib is inhabited by Bedouins and is one of many unrecognized Bedouin villages in Israel. See Bedouin.

al-Assad, Bashar

(1965- ) President of the Syrian Arab Republic from 2000-present. Bashar al-Assad assumed the presidency upon the death of his father and former Syrian president, Hafez al-Assad. Beginning in 2007, his regime engaged in indirect negotiations with Israel in an attempt to outline the details of a peace agreement, which would include the return of all or part of the occupied Golan Heights. Since early 2011, his regime has been challenged by internal protests calling for political reform and/or regime change. Syrian forces have violently suppressed many of these demonstrations, killing thousands of Syrians. See “Profile: Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.” 25 March 2011. BBC News. 13 June 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10338256.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/al-assad-bashar

al-Assad, Hafez

(1930-2000) President of the Syrian Arab Republic from early 1971 until his death in 2000. In 1970, Hafez al-Assad, then Minister of Defense, a general in the Syrian Air Force, and a member of the pragmatic, military wing of the Ba’ath party, wrested control of the government in a military coup. The coup was a reaction to years of dissatisfaction with the government of Salah Jadid, first expressed in the failure of the War of 1967 in which Syria lost the Golan Heights, and later in Syria’s aborted intervention in the Jordanian-Palestinian Black September. Assad’s centralization of power ended years of political instability and a series of successive coups. Assad consolidated his power and popularity in the War of 1973 when Egyptian and Syrian forces, backed by Jordan and Iraq, threatened Israel with significant military advances. Syria did not succeed in regaining the occupied Golan Heights, although the war was considered a political victory. Assad continued to try to find ways to return the Golan to Syria until his death in 2000, including brief negotiations with Israel in the early 1990s. He was staunchly anti-Zionist and Arab nationalist throughout his career. Hafez al-Assad was succeeded by his son, Bashar al-Assad. See “Hafez al-Assad.” The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. 14 July 2011. http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Assad-Ha.html.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/al-assad-hafez 

al-Dura, Mohammad

(1988-2000) A twelve-year-old Palestinian boy who was shot dead, allegedly by the Israeli army in Gaza at the beginning of the Second Intifada in September 2000. The boy was killed next to his father during an exchange of fire between Palestinian militants and the Israeli army at Netzarim junction in Gaza, an event captured on camera and publicized extensively. Within Palestinian society, Muhammad al-Dura was quickly deemed a martyr and symbol for all Palestinian children who have been killed by Israeli forces. For information on cases involving the French TV station that captured and first aired the coverage, see Patience, Martin. “Dispute rages over al-Durrah footage.” BBC. 8 November 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7083129.stm; and  “Court backs claim that al-Dura killing was staged.” Haaretz. 22 May 2008. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/court-backs-claim-that-al-dura-killing-was-staged-1.246313. The Israeli government has stayed out of this case and others connected to al-Dura’s killing.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/al-dura-mohammad

al-Husseini, Faisal

(1940-2001) A Palestinian political figure. Active in Fatah and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as well as numerous other organizations, including the Arab Studies Society, the Higher Islamic Council and the Orient House. Husseini was long engaged in protesting Israeli occupation, which resulted in travel bans, imprisonment and administrative detention by successive Israeli governments. He was the first prominent Palestinian to hold talks with a senior Israeli Likud party politician (Moshe Amirav) in September 1987, and was instrumental in launching the 1991 Madrid Conference. He served as the PLO representative to Jerusalem beginning in the mid-1990s until his death in 2001. See “Faisal Husseini.” 2002. PASSIA. 24 August 2011. >http://www.passia.org/publications/bulletins/english-jerusalem/pages/page12.pdf.  http://www.justivision.org/glossary/al-husseini-faisal

al-Husseini, Hajj Amin

(1895-1974) A Palestinian religious and military figure. Born in Jerusalem in 1895, Husseini opposed British mandatory control of and Jewish immigration to Palestine. He studied religious law at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, and at the Istanbul School of Administration. In 1920, he returned to Jerusalem calling for the incorporation of Palestine into Syria. Appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in May 1921 (until 1948), he led the 1928-29 campaign against the perceived threat to the Muslim holy places of Jerusalem posed by Zionists (see 1929 Riots). Husseini was elected president of the Arab Higher Committee in 1936 and as such was the chief architect of the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt/Riots, and the internal Arab conflicts of 1937. Ordered by the British authorities to be deported for inciting violence in 1937, he fled to Germany where he ran the National Leadership in exile in the late 1930s. His influence diminished by the 1940s, although he remained a voice of resistance through the time of Israel’s establishment in 1948. He died on July 5, 1974 in Beirut. See “Palestinian Personalities.” June 2006. PASSIA. 10 November 2007. http://www.passia.org/palestine_facts/personalities/alpha_h.htm.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/al-husseini-hajj-amin 


A predominantly Palestinian neighborhood located within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, in an area often called East Jerusalem. Est. population in 2008: 13,279. For more information on the status of Al-Issawiya’s residents, see Jerusalem ID. See also Jerusalem.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/al-issawiya


Headquartered in the nation of Qatar, this international news organization broadcasts in Arabic with a primary focus on the politics and society of the Arab World. The news organization also has a growing English news wing. See Al-Jazeera's website  at http://english.aljazeera.net.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/al-jazeera


A Palestinian town in the central West Bank, located 8 km south of Jerusalem. Est. population in 2007: 5,056. In 2008, Al-Khader began holding weekly protests against Israel’s separation barrier that cuts through the village.  http://www.justvision.org/glossary/al-khader

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