Glossary

For many people the constant stream of Hebrew and Arabic words, the cast of characters with sometimes hard to remember names, the multitude of battles, settlements, and UN resolutions, and so on, can become a bit confusing. I am creating this page, therefore, to serve as a sort of quick glossary in case you find yourself a bit lost on a specific detail. I will give an overview of the term and perhaps provide a link to Wikipedia for easy reading, where I think the content of the Wikipedia site is decent.

I intend to grow this page over time, but in the interim, please feel free to make any specific requests about any historical events, people, or ideas that are unclear or confusing.

  • BDS: Stands for “boycott, divestment, and sanctions.” This is part of a global movement, which arose following a unified call to action against Israel by Palestinian civil society in 2005 “until [Israel] complies with international law and the universal principles of human rights.” BDS is the future of this conflict; it is also very likely to be the first real step in 62 years toward the end of the conflict. Learn this acronym.
  • Benjamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu: Current right-wing prime minister of Israel from the Likud Party.
  • B’Tselem: An extremely well-respected organization, this Israeli human rights NGO has been documenting human rights violations in Israel/Palestine since 1989. One of the best all-around sources of information available on violence and occupation in Israel/Palestine.
  • Chutzpah: One of the most important Yiddish words to know for the student of Israeli-Palestinian affairs. It translates roughly to “audacity” or “insolence.” According to Wikipedia, which has a great explanation: “chutzpah is used indignantly to describe someone who has over-stepped the boundaries of accepted behavior with no shame. It is used primarily.” Few words characterize Israeli arguments on, say, settlements or the right of return as well as this one.
  • Knesset: The Israeli parliament with 120 total seats.
  • Labor: A center-left Israel political party, which has been at the core of Israeli politics since 1965, when it was formed from two of the first political parties in modern Israel (Ahdut Ha-Avoda and Mapai).
  • Likud: A right-wing Israeli political party, which has been one of Israel’s two largest parties since the late 1970s.
  • Mossad: The Israeli equivalent of the CIA, which is responsible for intelligence gathering and covert activities, including military ones.
  • Shabak: See Shin Bet.
  • Shimon Peres: I am not going to mince words. I find this man one of the most hypocritical and repulsive figures in the Israeli government. He is currently President of Israel, he is a Nobel Peace Laureate (in what is surely one of the most embarrassing peace awards ever given), he was one of the earliest major supporters of the settlements, he was a member of the Haganah, the pre-Israel militia/terrorist group, where he earned military experience that later took him by the age of 29 (in 1953) to the position of Director General in the Ministry of Defense. Through his behavior, Peres defines the Yiddish term “chutzpah” every single day of his life.
  • Shin Bet: Also called Shabak.  Responsible for internal security in Israel, similar to the FBI (although its motto is “defender that shall not be seen”).  This organization is deeply involved in the fighting of terrorism as well as the fighting of domestic Israeli dissent against Israeli occupation.  Human rights activists are routinely picked up for questioning by these guys.