An acronym for Israel Defense Forces, commonly known in Israel by its Hebrew acronym Tzahal. The IDF is the State of Israel's military, including ground forces, air force and navy. Israeli Law requires that all Israeli citizens and permanent residents begin serving in the Israeli army at the age of 18. Men are required to serve three years and women to serve 20-21 months. All non-Jewish women, Arab men (except Druze) and (until the 2014 Equal Services Law) Haredi Jews are automatically exempt from service, although volunteers from these groups are occasionally admitted and the Israeli state encourages some Bedouins to join. Reserve service is required until the age of 51 in the case of men, and 24 in the case of women. There are different categories of "refuseniks:" Israelis who refuse to join the army, or refuse to continue serving in the reserves, many for reasons of conscientious objection due to the occupation. See "As an ex-soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces, I've seen how shockingly we treat Palestinians," Avner Gvaryahu, the Independent, July 15, 2015.See also the website for Breaking the Silence.
(Hebrew for "organization") Also known as Etzel, which is the Hebrew acronym for "Irgun Tzvai-Leum" or "National Military Organization." The Irgun was an underground Zionist paramilitary group active during the British mandate of Palestine. Considered a terrorist entity by the British administration and a radical rival by the dominant Labor Zionist movement, the Irgun undertook armed operations against both Arab communities and the British. In 1946, Irgun members bombed the King David Hotel, which served as a British command post. On April 9, 1948, members of the Irgun were identified as participating in the attack on the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. By September 1948, the Irgun was completely dismantled and subsumed into the nascent Israeli army. One of the Irgun’s main commanders was Menachem Begin, who later became Prime Minister of Israel. See One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate, Tom Segev, Henry Holt and Company, 2000; and Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-2001, Benny Morris, Vintage Books, 2001. See also "Irgun Zvai Leumi," Encyclopedia Britannica.
Also known as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or PIJ. A Palestinian Islamist militant group founded in 1981 by Palestinian students in Egypt who had split from the Muslim Brotherhood. The founders were ideologically influenced and inspired by the Islamic revolution in Iran as well as the radicalization of Egyptian Islamic student organizations. Deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, Israel and other countries, Islamic Jihadbelieves that Israel will only be defeated through armed struggle, and has perpetrated numerous armed and suicide attacks against Israelis, both soldiers and civilians. Islamic Jihaddoes not engage in political processes or diplomacy. See "Palestinian Islamic Jihad," Holly Flecther, Council on Foreign Relations, April 10, 2008.
Known officially as the "State of Israel," the country was established on May 15, 1948, in the midst of the 1948 War and immediately after the end of the British Mandate. Its establishment as a Jewish homeland was the fruition of the goal of the Zionist movement, which had begun in the late 19th Century. Israel is located in the Middle East, with Egypt bordering on the South, Lebanon and Syria on the North, and Jordan to the East. Israel’s internationally recognized borders are its 1948 borders (which are considerably larger than the borders drawn in the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan); however, since the 1967 war, Israel has also occupied the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip and there are hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Many of the settlers and their supporters advocate for a "Greater Israel" where a large amount of the land conquered in 1967 would be annexed to Israel. (Israel also conquered the Golan Heights in the 1967 war, and it was annexed shortly thereafter. The Sinai Peninsula, also conquered in that war, was returned to Egypt as part of the first Camp David Accords. In Israel’s 1992 Basic Law, it defines itself as a Jewish and Democratic state. The tension between these two terms functioning in a multi-ethno-religious state such as Israel, where approximately 80% of Israeli citizens are Jewish, and most of the remaining 20% are Palestinian Citizens of Israel, has led to a great deal of debate. See "Zionists Proclaim New State of [no-lexicon]Israel[/no-lexicon]," Gene Currivan, The New York Times, May 15, 1948. See also "The Myth of the U.N. Creation of Israel," Jeremy Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, Oct 26, 2010; and "Jewish and Democratic? A Rejoinder to the ‘Ethnic Democracy’ Debate," Ruth Gavison, Israel Studies, 1999 4 (1).
A term used to refer to citizens of Israel who attained Israeli citizenship by birth or by naturalization. Demographically, Israel’s population is predominantly Jewish, but also includes a sizable Arab population, comprised of Palestinians, Druze and Bedouin. In 2009, Israel’s demographic breakdown per the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics was: 5,703,700 Jews; 1,535,600 Arabs; and 312,700 others. Included in the "Jews" category are Jewish Israelis living in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Per Israel’s Law of Return, Jews anywhere in the world can immigrate to Israel and become citizens. Israeli citizenship is relatively simple to define—whoever holds an Israeli passport is an Israeli citizen. Identification as an Israeli is far more complex, as many Palestinian citizens of Israel hold an Israeli passport, but identify as Palestinian, and do not identify as Israeli. See "Israel’s dilemma: Who can be an [no-lexicon]Israeli[/no-lexicon]?", Daniel Sokatch and David Myers, L.A. Times, Jan 14, 2014; and "Who Is an Israeli?" Leonard Fein, the Jewish Daily Forward, July 8, 2009. See also "Why Sayed Kashua is leaving Jerusalem and never coming back," Sayed Kashua, Ha’aretz, July 4, 2014.
Known in Hebrew as Yom Ha'Atzmaut, it is celebrated on the 5th day of the Jewish calendar’s month of Iyar, and marks the date that Israel declared itself an independent state, which was May 14, 1948 on the Gregorian calendar. Many Israelis and Jews worldwide celebrate it as a day marking the beginning of a Jewish nation-state and of ending centuries of Jewish exile and persecution. Palestinians view this day as part of Al-Nakba (Arabic for "the catastrophe"), which refers to the events in the lead up to, during, and the aftermath of the 1948 War, in which 700,000-800,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from their homes, most of whom were never allowed to return. For the text of Israel’s Declaration of Establishment, see the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. See also the iNakba app, developed by the organization Zochrot.
Signed in 1994 by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Jordanian King Hussein, the treaty normalized relations and also settled on the Jordan River as the border between the two countries. Other issues, such Palestinian refugees (who comprise 60% of Jordan’s population), were left for future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The Egyptian government welcomed the agreement, while Syria ignored it, and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia responded by firing rockets into northern Israel on the day of the treaty’s signing. An Israeli-Jordanian trade agreement followed in 1996. Over twenty years later, the peace treaty is precarious. See "Why peace with Israel was good for Jordan," Sharif Nashashibi, Al Jazeera, Oct 26, 2014. See also "Jordanian envoy says peace treaty imperiled by settlements," Raphael Aren, The Times of Israel, October 27, 2014. See the text of the treaty here.