Though our episodes are intended to be accessible to a wide audience, we realize that some terms may be unfamiliar to certain viewers. We’ve provided a glossary offering brief definitions of some of the vocabulary and historical references that come up continuously during our series:
1948 Arab-Israeli War: The First Arab-Israeli War broke out after decades of tensions between Mandatory Palestine's Jewish and Arab populations. Frustration with British rule (from the end of the First World War to 1948) and the passage of the UN Partition Plan to divide the territory into a Jewish and Arab state led to the outbreak of violence between Jewish and Palestinian communities. In May 1948, the civil war transformed into a wider war between Israel and the surrounding Arab states, ultimately resulting in the 1949 Armistice Agreements. By the end of the war, Israel's boundaries extended to what became known as the Green Line, Jordan occupied the West Bank, and Egypt occupied the Gaza strip. Approximately 700,000 Palestinians became refugees; some had fled during the war, while others were forcibly expelled by Israeli forces. The vast majority were denied re-entry into the nascent state of Israel. The refugee issue, and the issue of the "Right of Return," remain some of the most contentious problems in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
1967 Arab-Israeli War (Six-Day War): The Six-Day War broke out in the summer of 1967 between Israel and the surrounding Arab states (primarily Egypt, Jordan, and Syria). Israel won a decisive victory, leading to the capture of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Golan Heights. The Sinai Peninsula was later ceded back to Egypt, while the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem have been formally annexed to Israel.
Absorption/Resettlement Plans: After the pullout of Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005, many settlers were left homeless or without proper compensation for property they had owned in the evacuated settlements. In discussing the potential withdrawal of settlers from parts of the West Bank, a number of groups have highlighted the need for Absorption and Resettlement plans, which would allow former settlers to receive compensation and find new homes within Israel proper. According to some, advanced planning such as this will allow Israel to avoid mismanagement and chaos similar to that which followed the 2005 disengagement.
Area A, B, and C: During the Oslo II Negotiations, conducted at Taba in 1995, the Palestinian territories were divided into three territorial units. Area A is under the full military and civilian control of the Palestinian Authority. Area B is under Palestinian civilian control but Israeli military control (with some Palestinian police participation). Area C is under full Israeli civilian and military control. Areas A and B make up approximately 18% and 22% of the West Bank respectively, while the rest of the territory (60%) comprises Area C. This arrangement was intended to be temporary, lasting only until the conclusion of a final status agreement in less than five years from the signing of the Oslo Accords. The Israeli army was intended to withdraw from the majority of Area C, while the Palestinian Authority was intended to be replaced by an elected Palestinian Legislative Council. As the agreement was never carried out, both the territorial units (A, B and C) and the Palestinian Authority remain in place.
Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) – Established by Palestinian non-governmental groups in 2005, BDS is an international movement that seeks to put economic pressure on Israel to achieve three goals (the following goals have been copied from the BDS website): (1) ending the occupation of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Israeli security barrier, (2) guaranteeing rights for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and (3) facilitating the return of Palestinian refugees to their original homes within the Green Line. Supporters of BDS point to its commitment to non-violent struggle, and successes over the past few years (such as Presbyterian Church USA's decision to divest from three companies with major economic ties to the West Bank Occupation). Other supporters have emphasized the critical role of the boycott movement in ending South African apartheid. Critics, however, have emphasized the perceived ambiguity of the BDS movement's ultimate goals. Some have pointed out that it is unclear when the boycott would actually end, while others have questioned whether BDS is ultimately compatible with a two-state solution.
East Jerusalem (Al Quds): East Jerusalem refers to the eastern, overwhelmingly Palestinian section of Jerusalem. However, it’s exact boundaries are subject to dispute. Between 1949 and 1967, East Jerusalem (which includes the Old City) was under Jordanian control. Following its military victory in 1967, Israel claimed East Jerusalem as part of “undivided Jerusalem,” the nation's capital. However, the majority of international bodies do not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the eastern portion of the city. Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem have grown significantly, leading to violent outbreaks between Israelis and Palestinians. The majority of Palestinian Jerusalemites are Jerusalem residents but not Israeli citizens. This unique legal status allows them to travel within Israel, receive certain public benefits such as healthcare, and theoretically apply for citizenship (for a number of reasons, few attempt to do so). However, it denies them the right to vote in national elections. Furthermore, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem can be stripped of their Jerusalem ID by the Israeli authorities at any time.
Gaza Disengagement: In 2005, the Israeli army dismantled all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and withdrew from the territory. The disengagement plan was proposed and carried out by the government of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. After Israel's withdrawal, Palestinians were given control of the territory, with a number of significant exceptions: control of borders, airspace, territorial waters, some infrastructure etc. The withdrawal received significant international support, but also significant criticism. Many emphasized the move’s poor planning and the Israeli government’s failure to properly compensate the evacuated settlers. Others argued that the Gaza disengagement merely allowed Israel to increase and deepen its hold of the West Bank, without actually relinquishing its control of the Gaza Strip. Shortly after the Israeli withdrawal, armed conflict broke out between Fatah and Hamas for control over Gaza, resulting in Hamas' takeover of the territory.
Green Line/1967 borders: The Green Line was established following the end of the 1948 Israeli-Arab war. In the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israeli, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan, the parties agreed to an armistice demarcation line before permanent borders were agreed upon. The territories inside the Green Line are often referred to as "Israel proper," or "internationally recognized Israel." While many debate the legal status of the Green Line, it has significant ramifications, particularly for the Palestinian population. The vast majority of Palestinians living within the Green Line, for example, are Israeli citizens, while those living in territories captured in 1967 (including East Jerusalem) are not. Israeli Jewish settlers in the West Bank, however, retain full Israeli citizenship and the privileges it provides.
Intifada (1st and 2nd) - Intifada, the Arabic word for "uprising," describes two distinct outbreaks of mass resistance, protests and violence throughout the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel in 1987 and 2000. The First Intifada was a largely spontaneous popular uprising against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. Historians see the Intifada as the result of several decades of harsh Israeli repression of Palestinians beginning after Israel's takeover of the territories in 1967. Though the exact beginning and ending of the Intifada are difficult to define, many agree that movement's spark came in December 1987: an IDF truck accidentally crashed into a Palestinian civilian car at the Gaza Erez checkpoint, killing four passengers. Rumors that the crash had been deliberate quickly spread throughout the Palestinian community. The uprising took the form of a general strike, boycotts of Israeli goods and services, large-scale civil disobedience, protests and the use of barricades, stone throwing, and Molotov cocktails. Israel responded with heavy military force, including mass arrests, violent confrontations with protestors, and curfews. The First Intifada was also marked by Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians, as well as intra-communal violence and attacks on alleged collaborators within the Palestinian community. Most consider the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference or 1993 Oslo Accords as the end of the First Intifada.
The Second Intifada (September 2000 to February 2005), also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada, began shortly after the failed Camp David negotiations in September 2000. Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon visited the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif), which was perceived by the Palestinians as highly incendiary, and riots quickly ensued. Like the First Intifada, the Second Intifada saw massive popular protests across the Palestinian territories and Israel. However, the Second Intifada was also characterized by new levels of deadly force employed by both sides. Palestinian suicide bombings and terrorist attacks on military and civilian targets and Israel's use of overwhelming military force were widely condemned in the international community.
Israeli West Bank Barrier (Separation Wall, Security Fence): Construction of the Israeli Separation Wall began in the early 2000's in response to the Second Intifada. Though built on the Green line in certain areas, the circuitous fence cuts significantly into the West Bank—ensuring that a number of Israeli settlements are included within its boundaries while excluding many Palestinian villages. While supporters speak of the vast decrease in the number of Palestinian terrorist attacks, critics point out the severe impact on Palestinian freedom of movement, the illegal seizure of private land, and other significant impediments to Palestinian daily life. As its route differs significantly from Israel's legally recognized borders, the wall has been nearly uniformly condemned in the international community.
Jerusalem Municipality: The Jerusalem Municipality refers to one of Israel’s administrative divisions, comprising both West and East Jerusalem and parts of the surrounding area in the West Bank. In 1980, Israel passed the Jerusalem Law, declaring “complete and united” Jerusalem as its capital. Though the law did not specify the exact borders of “united” Jerusalem, its range included East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank. Upon its passage, the law was declared “null and void” by the UN Security Council (the US abstained from the vote).
Major Settlement Blocs: Israeli settlements are defined as Israeli towns and cities built on territory occupied by Israel after 1967. As Israel has pulled it's settlers out of the Gaza Strip and annexed the Golan Heights, the term "settlement" usually refers to civilian communities in the West Bank or East Jerusalem (though the latter has been officially annexed as well). The major settlement blocs refer to the percentage of West Bank land, mostly within or close to the Separation Wall, occupied by a large majority of Israeli settlers (approximately 300,000). Though all West Bank settlements are illegal under international law, many commentators believe that a resolution to the conflict will ultimately lead to the annexation of major Israeli population centers in the West Bank. The list of major blocs commonly includes the Ariel bloc, Gush Etzion bloc, Ma'ale Adumim bloc, the Modi'in Illit bloc, and the Givat Ze'ev bloc. Nonetheless, the blocs have no precise territorial definition.
Normalization: Though its precise definition and parameters are debated, "normalization" refers to treating the current "abnormal" situation in Israel/Palestine as "normal," thus ignoring the fundamental injustice and inequality of the situation. To use a more specific example, "co-existence" activities that bring together Israelis and Palestinians without the explicit aim of resisting the occupation or other forms of discrimination against Palestinians are often seen as counterproductive. While Israelis and Palestinians may enjoy playing soccer or eating hummus together, these activities cannot change the fundamentally discriminatory nature of the status quo. Further, it's been argued that these activities can serve as "cover," using the illusion of co-existence to mask continued inequalities and further settlement construction. The term also refers to Israeli efforts to use its stances on environmental and LGBT issues and advanced technology sector to distract from the reality of continued occupation. Nevertheless, many thinkers and political groups dispute the exact parameters of normalization, as well as the efficacy of a strict anti-normalization policy. Ought mixed Jewish-Arab schools within the Green Line to be thought of as normalizing the status quo? Is separation better than lack of discourse, even if this discourse occurs within a "normalized" context? As four-year olds cannot reasonably be expected to struggle against the occupation, can bringing young Israeli and Palestinian children together outside the context of resistance be thought of as "counterproductive?"
Occupied Territories: The Occupied Territories refers to the land captured by Israel following the 1967 Israeli-Arab War. Of these territories, the Sinai Peninsula has been returned to Egypt, while the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem have been formally annexed (although this has not been recognized by the international community). The West Bank and Gaza Strip are also referred to as Occupied Palestinian Territory, though Israel disputes its control of the latter following the 2005 Gaza disengagement.
Old City of Jerusalem: The Old City of Jerusalem refers to the ancient, walled city of Jerusalem in the center of the modern city. Containing many important Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, the Old City is one of world's most significant religious spaces. The city was captured by Jordan in 1948, then by Israel in 1967. Control of the city and its religious sites remains highly contested, and the Old City is often a flashpoint for violent confrontations.
Oslo Accords/Oslo Process: The Oslo Accords were the result of secret negotiations between representatives of the Israeli government and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1993. The two accords, signed in 1993 and 1995 respectively, marked the beginning of the Oslo Process, intended to reach a final status agreement between the two parties. The accords were based on the PLO's recognition of the state of Israel and Israel's recognition of the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. The accords established the Palestinian Authority and vested the organization with limited self-government in Gaza and the West Bank. It also created timelines for the resolution of disputed issues and the implementation of a final status agreement. However, the accords did not define the borders of a future Palestinian state, nor did they clearly demarcate the responsibilities and powers of the Palestinian Authority after the Oslo Process's conclusion. Significantly, Israeli settlement growth in the West Bank has tripled since the signing of the Accords in 1993. Following the failure of the Camp David Negotiations in 2000, the Second Intifada broke out. Though certain elements of the Oslo arrangements remained in place, the Second Intifada marked the end of the Oslo Process.
Palestinian UN Bid - In 2011, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application to the UN to recognize the State of Palestine as a member state on the basis of the 1967 Green Line. Palestine was granted status as an "observer entity," but in 2012, its status was upgraded to "non-member observer state." After the failed negotiations sponsored by Secretary of State John Kerry, Abbas has renewed efforts to achieve full recognition of statehood. This effort represents one of the Palestinian leadership's primary diplomatic strategies in combatting the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and establishing a Palestinian state.
UN Human Rights Council: The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is an intergovernmental UN body and a subsidiary body to the UN General Assembly. Founded in 2006, UNHRC is the successor to the UN Commission on Human Rights. The group is composed of 47 member countries, elected by the UN General Assembly. UNHRC has been criticized by some due to a perceived overemphasis and singular focus on Israeli human rights violations.
UNRWA: UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, was established by the United Nations in 1949 following the end of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The agency initially served the Palestinian refugees who fled Israel/Palestine as well as Jewish and Palestinian refugees in Israel proper (Israel took over responsibility for refugees within its own territory in 1952). Currently, UNRWA provides education, healthcare, and social services to nearly five million registered descendants of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the surrounding Arab countries.