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Speaking of Israel...a glossary of important terms
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Connect to Israel : Speaking of Israel...a glossary of important terms


Speaking of Israel…

A Glossary of Israel-Related Terms

September 5, 2002

28 Elul, 5763


Literally, ascent; immigration of Jews to Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel).

Arab League

Organization of Arab states, founded 1945, works for common political and economic goals, often as pan-Arab opposition to Israel.

Armistice Agreements

Israel's War of Independence ended in July 1949 by armistice (cease fire) agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.


(adj. Ashkenazic). The term now used for Jews who derive from northern Europe and who generally follow the customs originating in medieval German Judaism. By extension, it now refers to Jews of northern and eastern European background (including Russia) with their distinctive liturgical practices or religious and social customs.

Balfour Declaration

Statement issued by the British Government, 1917 recognizing the - Jewish people's right to a national home in the land of Israel, named for Lord Balfour who signed it on Britain’s behalf.

B.C.E. or b.c.e.

(“before the common era”). An attempt to use a neutral term for the period traditionally labeled “BC” (before Christ) by Christians. Thus 586 B.C.E. is identical to 586 BC.

Ben-Gurion, David  (1886-1973)

State of Israel's first prime minister (1948-1953 and 1955-1963) and defense minister. He settled in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) in 1906. Due to the Ottoman Empires Anti-Zionist persecution Ben-Gurion was exiled to Egypt in March 1915. Ben-Gurion went to New York where he was instrumental in preparing young Jews to come to Palestine immediately after the war. After the war he eventually became chairman of the executive committee of the Jewish Agency for Palestine. Ben-Gurion was unrelenting, and finally in Tel Aviv, on May 14, 1948, he proclaimed independence for the State of Israel. He continued as prime minister for 15 years (except 1953-1955), during which time the young country fought two wars (the War of Independence and the Sinai Campaign) while tripling its population from 1/2 million to 1 1/2 million.  Ben-Gurion retired from politics in 1970 and spent the remaining years of his life living on his kibbutz, Sde Boker in the Negev, during the Yom Kippur War, on December 1, 1973 David Ben-Gurion passed away.

Camp David Accords

Peace agreement reached between Israel and Egypt, the first between Israel and an Arab neighbor, signed March 1979. Called for normalization of relations and return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.

C.E. or c.e.

“common era”; an attempt to use a neutral term for the period traditionally labeled “AD” (Latin anno domini or “year of the Lord”) by Christians. Thus, 1992 CE is identical to AD 1992.

Dati/Lo Dati

Dati = religious, lo dati=not religious, as used in current Hebrew in Israel, but it is a black and white distinction, meaning Orthodox and not Orthodox (secular).

Declaration Of Independence

Proclamation read in Tel Aviv by David Ben Gurion on May 14, 1948, the fifth day of the Hebrew month of Iyar, declaring Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel), the historical and spiritual homeland of the Jewish people, an independent state, to be known as the State of Israel.

Declaration Of Principles (DOP)

On September 13, 1993, the Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat signed the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles in Washington, D.C. affirming mutual recognition and legitimacy. The P.L.O. agreed to end the intifada and terrorist activity and to amend its charter calling for the destruction of Israel. Israel agreed to grant the P.L.O. civil autonomy over the majority of Gaza and the West Bank. As a result of the Declaration of Principles Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat were awarded the Nobel Peace


Greek word meaning “scattering.” Often used to refer to the Jewish communities living among the gentiles outside the “holy land” of Canaan/Israel/Palestine.


A religio-political sect deriving from Islam with communities in Syria, Lebanon and Israel.  Druze claim national alignment within whichever country they are living.  They are considered a friend to Israel and Druze have the option of joining the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).


A social and political ideology with the primary guiding principle that the state or nation is the highest priority, rather than personal or individual freedoms.


Fatah is a terrorist organization that has carried out operations and terrorist acts against targets of various Arab countries, more than any other Palestinian organization, and also against Palestinian militants considered to be too moderate. From the beginning of the 1980s Fatah attacked Jewish, Israeli and Western targets.  Fatah has about 400 members plus dozens of militia men in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. It has no known affiliation in the Territories.

Fatah Tanzim

The Tanzim is the armed wing of the Fatah acting as paramilitary counter-balance to the military wings of the Palestinian opposition groups, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The organization also serves as an informal, unofficial “Palestinian army” which can engage Israeli security forces and Jewish civilians without officially breaking signed agreements with Israel.  Tanzim militants have played a significant military role in demonstrations and clashes with Israeli security forces. The organization has been at the forefront of the violent demonstrations which erupted in October 2000, when peace talks with Israel over a final settlement reached a dead end.  The Tanzim have played a leading role in the activities of the "al-Aqsa Intifada," (the new Intifada) including carrying out ambushes of civilian vehicles and bombings of buses in Israeli cities.

Fedayeen (Precursor to Suicide-Murders)

In 1955, Egyptian President Nasser introduced a new form of warfare to the Arab-Israeli conflict, terrorists called fedayeen (“one who sacrifices himself”). Nasser trained and equipped the fedayeen to engage in hostile action on the border and infiltrate Israel to commit acts of sabotage and murder. The terrorist attacks violated the armistice agreement provision that prohibited the initiation of hostilities by paramilitary forces.

Force 17

Force 17 was formed in the early 1970’s by senior Al-Fatah officers, shortly after the PLO’s expulsion from Jordan.  Force 17 has been involved in terrorism since the early 1980’s, and has carried out attacks against both Israeli and rival Palestinian targets in the Middle East and Europe.

As a result of the Oslo Agreements between Israel and the PLO, Force 17 was to have been merged into the PA security forces. In reality, Arafat kept the unit apart from the official Palestinian forces, and today it acts under his authority alone.

Gaza-Jericho Accord (Cairo Agreement)

May 4, 1994 agreement implementing Israel's withdrawal of forces from the Gaza Strip and Jericho. The agreement detailed various aspects of Palestinian self-rule, including the respective roles of the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian police force, as well as border arrangements. The Cairo Agreement was superseded by the Interim Agreement (“Oslo II”) of September 28, 1995.

Gaza Strip

Narrow, 25-mile long strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea that Israel captured from Egypt in the 1967 War. A hotbed of anti-Israeli terrorism for many years, the region is home to 750,000-800,000 Palestinian Arabs, in addition to about 4,000 Jews. The Cairo Agreement of May 4, 1994 has led to autonomy for the Gaza Strip's Palestinian residents within the framework of an Israeli military withdrawal from the region.

Green Line

This was the separation (border) between the 1967 borders of Israel and the West Bank territories captured in the Six-Day War. The reference came about because someone used a green pen on the map of the armistice agreement with Jordan to draw the border.


The Hamas (a word meaning courage and bravery) is a radical Islamic organization which became active in the early stages of the Intifada, operating primarily in the Gaza Strip but also in the West Bank. The Hamas has become the dominant Islamic fundamentalist organization in the Territories. It defined its highest priority as Jihad (Holy War) for the liberation of Palestine and the establishment of an Islamic Palestine "from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River".  


National anthem of Israel. The words were written by Naftali Herz Imber (about 1870). The melody is a folk song based on a tune which is known in many European countries in various forms.

Herzl, Theodor (1860-1904)

In 1891 he became Paris correspondent for the New Free Press (Vienna), the influential liberal newspaper of the time. Herzl was in Paris to witness the rise of anti-Semitism which led him to be convinced that the only solution to the Jewish problem was the mass exodus of Jews from their places of residence. Originally he wrote that it didn't matter where Jews went. He eventually realized that a national home in Palestine was the answer. Herzl was a key player in the establishment of the World Zionist Organization which helped to create the economic foundation for the proposed Jewish state.  He died in 1904 before his dream could become reality.  In 1949 his remains were transferred to a mountain in western Jerusalem which became Mount Herzl, and is today a major military cemetery.

Hizballah (Party of G-d)

Iranian-backed Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization, based in predominantly Shi’ite areas of southern Lebanon, that has launched numerous attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians.


(from Greek, entire burnt offering). A term used in recent times to refer to the Nazi German policy to exterminate the Jewish people during World War II.

Holocaust Denial

The attempt to "disprove" that the Holocaust actually happened by means of spurious evidence and historical analysis, often by neo-fascists posing as academics or experts. A notable group is The Institute for Historical Review and notable figures include Arthur Butz, Ernst Zundel and Fred Leuchter.

Holocaust Revisionists

Those who deny that the Holocaust ever happened.


Acronym for Israeli Defense Forces in Hebrew the acronym is Tzahal: Tzva Haganah Le’Yisrael  


(Arabic, lit. “shaking off.”). Palestinian civil uprising in Gaza and the West Bank, December 1987-September 1993, to protest Israeli occupation.

Jewish Agency

Established 1929 by Zionist Congress to encourage settlement of Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) and enlist international Jewish support for development projects. In 1948, the State assumed many of its responsibilities. Its emphases are immigration, youth work, land settlement, and education.


Centuries-old Arabic term translated literally as “holy war” or “endeavor.” In recent years, Muslim fighters, especially in the Arab-Israeli conflict, have used the term almost solely to mean “holy war,” often waged through terrorist attacks on civilians.

Kach/Kahane Chai

Two ultra right-wing organizations that desire to restore the biblical state of Israel and they have called for the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel. Kach was founded by radical Israeli-American Meir Kahane; Kahane Chai (“Kahane Lives”) was formed after Kahane's 1990 assassination by his son Binyamin. On the grounds that the Kach party was racist, the Israeli government banned its members from serving in the Knesset. In March 1994, the government outlawed both Kach and Kahane Chai altogether after Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Muslims praying at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron.


(pl. kibbutzim). A communal settlement in modern Israel.


The parliament of the State of Israel.  

Lebanon War (Operation Peace for Galilee)

June 1982 conflict in which the Israeli Defense Forces conducted a military operation in Lebanon to drive out the PLO, which had been shelling northern Israeli towns. The majority of Israel's forces withdrew in 1985. Israel still holds an eight-mile-wide security zone in southern Lebanon in order to protect Israeli towns from the continuing terrorist attacks launched from Lebanon.

Madrid Peace Conference

Conference sponsored and organized in 1991 by the U.S. and Russia in the aftermath of the Gulf War, in which Israel and its Arab neighbors commenced bilateral and multilateral negotiations on a wide variety of matters, ranging from peace to economic issues to water. This was the first time that Arab countries other than Egypt met Israel before the world. Today's ongoing peace process between Israel and the PLO, Jordan, and Syria has origins in the Madrid Peace Conference

Meir, Golda  (ne Mabovitch; 1898-1978)

Israel prime minister and labor leader who  settled in Palestine in 1921 with her husband Morris Myerson, joining kibbutz Merhavyah. In 1928 she became the executive secretary of Mo'ezet ha-Po'alot (women's labor union) and was sent as an emissary to the Pioneer Women's Organization in the United States from 1932--1934.  On February 26, 1969, Golda Meir became the fourth prime minister of Israel. As prime minister she encouraged the emigration of thousands of Soviet Jews to Israel, and strengthened relations with the United States.  Disaster overtook her administration on Yom Kippur, 1973 when Egypt and Syria caught Israel's defenses off guard in a coordinated surprise attack.


Cooperative agricultural settlement in Israel whose inhabitants possess individual homes and whose additional holdings vary within each Moshav.


The Israeli government's intelligence agency. Like the CIA, it uses agents to collect intelligence, conduct covert operations and counter-terrorism, primarily domestically. Its primary focus is on terrorist organizations and the Arab nations.

Oslo A Agreement  (The Oslo Accord)

The Oslo Accord between Israel and the Palestinians was signed on August 20, 1993 in the Norwegian capital of Oslo and was ratified by the government of Israel on August 30, 1993.  Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians in the peace talks and the PLO amongst other things declared their recognition of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.

Oslo B Agreement (The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip)

Signed on September 28, 1995 in Washington, D.C. by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and Chairman of the PLO, Yasser Arafat. Present at the ceremony were the president of the United States, William J. Clinton, and the Russian foreign minister, Andrei Kozyrev, as the representatives of the two nations that cosponsored the Middle East peace process that started with the Madrid Conference.  The Interim Agreement between Israel and the PLO, with all of its annexes, consists of more than 300 pages.


(Greek form representing "Philistines," for the seacoast population encountered by early geographers). An ancient designation (unable to find date) for the area between Syria (to the north) and Egypt (to the south), between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan; roughly, modern Israel.

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)

Umbrella organization, a coalition of groups including the Fatah, the Marxist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and several others. The PLO was formed in 1964 by the first Arab summit conference as the embodiment of the notion of a Palestinian entity. It was originally controlled by the Arab states but after the 1967 war was taken over by genuine Palestinian nationalist groups and became autonomous

Palestinian Authority (PA)

The Palestinian autonomous government in the West Bank and Gaza areas from which the Israeli Defense Forces have redeployed since the 1994 Gaza-Jericho agreement and the 1995 Interim Agreement (“Oslo B”).

Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)

The PIJ Fathi Shqaqi faction (which includes The Islamic Jihad Organization – the al-Aqsa Battalions, The Islamic Jihad – The Temple, and The Islamic Jihad Squad) follows the Islamic Jihad ideology which views Israel as the main enemy of the Muslim Brothers and the first target for destruction.  They refer to the state of Israel as the “Zionist Jewish entity”.  Their goal is the liberation of all Palestinians and this is accomplished through guerilla groups who carry out terrorist attacks aimed at weakening Israel.  The group has been active on the political scene since 1979 in the Territories, mostly in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Refugees

Estimates range from 500,000 to 800,0000Palestinians who fled Israel to various Arab countries, including Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, between 1947 and 1949, fundamentally because of the Arab states' rejection of the United Nation partition plan and invasion of Israel. The refugees fled out of fear of war and in response to Arab leaders' calls for Arabs to evacuate the areas allocated to the Jews until Israel had been eliminated. Many of the refugees and their descendants now live in the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the West Bank. About 360,000 Palestinians fled eastern Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights during and after Israel's defensive 1967 War. Palestinian who fled in 1967 are technically considered displaced persons and do not have official refugee status. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency estimated that 175,000 of these 360,000 Palestinians were refugees from the 1948 War. The May 4, 1994 Gaza-Jericho Accord calls for Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan, and Egypt to form a Continuing Committee to discuss the 1967 displaced persons. The problem of the 1947-1949 refugees, on the other hand, is to be left for the “final status” negotiations under the terms of the Israeli-PLO Declaration of Principles of September 13, 1993


Although anyone with roots in the land that is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza is technically a Palestinian, the term is now more commonly used to refer to Arabs with such roots. Palestinian nationalism, as distinguished from Arab nationalism, did not emerge until after World War I. Most of the world's Palestinian population is concentrated in Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jordan, although many Palestinians live in Lebanon, Syria and other Arab countries.

Peres, Shimon (1923 -)

Shimon Peres settled in Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) with his parents in 1934.  A protege of David Ben Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, Peres entered government service in the Ministry of Defense in 1948 and by 1977, Peres became head of the Labor Party. In 1992 Peres became Rabin's Foreign Minister and helped negotiate the autonomy agreement between the PLO and Israel in September 1993. In recognition of his efforts, Peres, Rabin and Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize. When Rabin was assassinated in 1995, Peres formed a new government, which he served as both Prime Minister and Minister of Defense. In the general elections the following year, Peres was defeated by Shamir's Likud successor, Binyamin Netanyahu.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is a Marxist-Leninist group founded in 1967 by George Habash. The PFLP sees itself as "a progressive vanguard organization of the Palestinian working class" and its stated aim as "liberating all of Palestine and establishing a democratic socialist Palestinian state."  The PFLP is responsible for many terrorist acts, including airline hijackings and attacks on foreign airports. The organization has drawn closer to the more violent elements of Fatah in the months since Arafat returned to armed confrontation with Israel (September 2000).  

Protocols of the Elders of Zion

A major piece of anti-Semitic propaganda, compiled at the turn of the century by members of the Russian Secret Police. Essentially adapted from a nineteenth century French polemical satire directed against Emperor Napoleon III, substituting Jewish leaders, the Protocols maintained that Jews were plotting world dominion by setting Christian against Christian, corrupting Christian morals and attempting to destroy the economic and political viability of the West. It gained great popularity after World War I and was translated into many languages, encouraging anti-Semitism in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. Long repudiated as an absurd and hateful lie, the book currently has been reprinted and is widely distributed by Neo-Nazis and others who are committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.

Rabin, Yitzhak (1922-1995)

March 1922, Yitzhak Rabin was born in Jerusalem. After completing his studies, he served in the Palmach (Central assault force of the Haganah, involved especially in underground activities defending the Jewish settlements and assisting illegal immigration). Yitzhak Rabin held positions in the IDF for a total of 27 years, including Chief of Staff during the Six Day War.  Rabin was a member of the Israeli delegation to the first negotiations with Egypt in 1949.  From 1968-73 Rabin served as Israel's Ambassador to the US and in 1973 he returned to Jerusalem and became active in the Labor Party.  In 1974 Rabin headed the new government of 2 June 1974, after the fall of Golda Meir's government. As Prime Minister, with American mediation, he conducted the negotiations which resulted in the 1975 interim agreement between Israel and Egypt.  In 1992 following his election as Chairman of the Israel Labor Party in March, Yitzhak Rabin led the Labor Party to election victory in June 1992 and as Prime Minister, he signed the Israel-Palestinian Declaration of Principles on 13 September 1993, the Cairo Agreements with the Palestinians in May 1994, the Peace Agreement with Jordan on 24 July 1994 and Yitzhak Rabin was also one of the three laureates awarded the highest accolade recognized by the entire world: the Nobel Peace Prize, on 10 December 1994.  On November 4, 1995 (11 Cheshvan, 5756) at  21:40 Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.

Sharon, Ariel (1928-)

Ariel Sharon was born in Israel in 1928. His first military experience came when he joined the Haganah at the age of 14. He was only 20 in when he commanded an infantry company in the Alexandroni Brigade1948, during Israel's War of Independence. His military prowess was demonstrated in 1967 during Israel's Six Day War, when he commanded an armored division. Ariel Sharon entered political life after the Yom Kippur War. He was elected to the Knesset in December 1973, but resigned a year later. Two years later, Sharon acted as a Security Adviser in Yitzhak Rabin's first government. Prime Minister Menahem Begin appointed him Minister of Agriculture and Chairman of the Ministerial Committee for settlements until 1981. With the rise of the political right in Israel and the growth of messianic Zionism, Sharon began to identify himself increasingly with the Gush Emunim movement and used his position to encourage the building of settlements. Since then, he has been considered by the settler movement to be the champion of their cause. Sharon's reputation was tainted during the Lebanon War, when he served as Minister of Defense from 1981-83. Sharon's role in the war and the findings of the Kahan Commission of Inquiry on the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla is often revisited by those who appose Sharon’s administration. Sharon's political career peaked when he was appointed the head of the Likud, after the defeat of Netanyahu in the 1999 elections. From the moment the Barak government failed to secure a parliamentary majority in late 2000, Ariel Sharon appeared with a new Israeli media image as a soft- spoken moderate on all issues, avoiding the most contentious of them. With his emphasis on forming a National Unity government, ensuring personal and national security interests and using a different approach to peace negotiations, Sharon ran a successful campaign for Israel's first Special Election for the premiership, in February 2001. He won by a margin of 25% on an all-time low poll of 59% of the Israeli electorate. 15-20% of expected voters, including the vast majority of Arab voters, did not go to the polls.

Shlichim (pl.; Shaliach sing.) :

Israeli Educators for the Diaspora recruited, trained and placed by the Education Department of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). 

Six-Day War

War fought in June 1967 when Israel reacted to Arab threats and the blockade of the Straits of Tiran. Stunning victory over the Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian armies.


(adj. Sephardic; Sephardic) In the medieval period, Sephardic(c) Jews are those descended from those who lived in Spain and Portugal (the Iberian peninsula) before the expulsion of 1492. As a cultural designation, the term refers to the complex associated with Jews of this region and its related diaspora in the Balkans and Middle East (especially in Islamic countries).


terrorism is the intentional use of, or threat to use violence against civilians or against civilian targets, in order to attain political aims.

United Nations Partition Plan for Israel and Palestine

Kaf-Tet Benovember 1947 (literally: November 29, 1947) is the day on which the General Assembly of the United Nations voted in favor of the partition of Palestine into two states: one Jewish (Israel) and one Arab (Palestine).

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242

Resolution adopted in 1967 that established the principle of land for peace. The resolution calls for the “[w]ithdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” as well as calling for the Arab states to recognize that “every State in the area” has the “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” UNSC Resolution 242 also stresses the importance of freedom of navigation through Middle East waterways and “a just settlement of the refugee problem.”

United Nations Security Council Resolution 338

Resolution adopted in 1973 calling for a cease-fire in the Yom Kippur War, the implementation of UNSC Resolution 242 and negotiations between the parties involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

War of Independence

War of 1947-49 when the Jews of Israel fought off invading Arab armies from seven countries including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and established an independent state.

Washington Declaration

Document signed July 25, 1994, by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Jordanian King Hussein, and U.S. President Bill Clinton on the occasion of the first public meeting between Israeli and Jordanian leaders. Paving the way to the formal peace treaty between the two countries signed on October 26, 1994, the document formally ended the 46-year-old state of war between Israel and Jordan and emphasized that both countries would negotiate “vigorously” to reach an agreement on a full peace treaty. The document also outlined economic and other forms of cooperation between the two countries.

West Bank

Territory west of the Jordan River that Israel captured from Jordan in its defensive 1967 war. Often referred to by its Biblical name, Judea and Samaria, this land is home to a Palestinian population of over one million, as well as about 140,000 Jewish residents living in settlements.  The West Bank is often referred to by Pro-Palestinian’s as the “Occupied Territories”

Yom Ha-Atzmut

Israel's Independence Day, celebrated according to the Jewish calendar on the 5th day of the month of Iyar (Israel was proclaimed as an independent state on May 15, 1948).

Yom Ha-Shoah

Holocaust Remembrance Day observed the 27th day of the Hebrew month Nissan.

Yom Ha-Zikkaron

Memorial Day on the 4th of Iyar (the day before Yom Ha'atzmaut). To commemorate those who died in Israel's wars. 

Yom Kippur War

In October 1973, Syrian and Egyptian forces, assisted by other Arab nations, launched a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jews. Although placed on the defensive for the first two days, Israel eventually was able to counter-attack and repulse the Arab invaders. An internationally-brokered cease-fire was established after three weeks of fighting.

Yom Yerushalayim

Jerusalem Day, celebrated on the 28th of Iyar to commemorate the reunification of East and West Jerusalem. Jerusalem was reunited on June 7, 1967, during the Six Day War, with the entrance of the IDF into the Old City and Jewish holy places.

 Zion, Zionism

(Mount) Zion is an ancient Hebrew designation for Jerusalem, but already in biblical times it began to symbolize the national homeland.  In this latter sense it served as a focus for Jewish national-religious hopes of renewal over the centuries. Ancient hopes and attachments to Zion gave rise to Zionist longings and movements since antiquity, culminating in the modern national liberation movement of that name. The Zionist cause helped the Jews return to Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) in this century and found the state of Israel in 1948. The goal of Zionism is the political and spiritual renewal of the Jewish people in its ancestral homeland.

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