Dictionary Of Terms



Acre - a fortress built by the Romans that could not be penetrated, even by Napolean's army, but the underground units of Eretz Israel, led by Dov Cohen, broke through to release almost 300 prisoners held there by the British Military rule in 1947.

Aliyah - "to go up or ascend" - a term for immigration to the Land of Israel Balfour Declaration, 1917 - signed by British Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, drawn by Lord Rothschild, declaring that the British Government favored the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and would use its best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.


Bar Giora - Jewish military unit, like Hashomers, made up of Eastern European Jews who immigrated to Palestine in First Aliyah (1904 - 1914) as the first pioneers to settle in early 1900s. Its name came from Simon Bar Giora leader of the Jewish Wars against Rome., 66-70 AD.

Bricha (escape) - the name given to the underground railroad (underground youth members that set up networks to bring immigration) that moved Jews from Europe into Palestine against the British Mandate. British Mandate.


Circassians - held reputation among Arabs of being crack marksmen, spectacular horsemen, and most of all, tough and plucky, trustworthy, and reliable watchmen ... petitioned to protect small villages. Early pioneers learned from them to train Bar Giora and Hashomer units.


Ha'apala - "Defense" - The military defense organization formed in the 1920s and culminates in the Israeli Defense Force.

Hatikvah - "the hope" - Zionist, later Israeli national anthem written in 1886 by Naftali Imber.

Havlaga - The policy of self-restraint adopted by much of the Yishuv and the Haganah during the latter part of the British Mandate in Palestine.

Homa u'Migdal - "stockade and tower" - Jewish settlements built in 24 hours, to comply with building restriction codes enforced by the British Mandate in the 1930s.


Irgun Zvai Leumi - underground organization that grew from military defense organizations that no longer submitted to Jewish Agency policy of "havlaga". IZL stood for "Eretz Israel" versus partition and parliamentarian style government. "Only Thus" was their motto, referring to "only by military defense of the Holy Land and Hebrew people will we establish the Jewish State in the Homeland."


Jewish Agency - authoritative body representing the Yishuv, Jewish people in Palestine, headed by Ben-Gurion, who gave orders to the Haganah from France and England.

Jewish Legion - battalion of Jewish soldiers in Egypt who fought within the British Army in World War I. Joined with Jabotinsky's Judean Battalion and Trumpeldor's Zion Mule Corps.

Judean Battalion - 38th, 39th, and 40th battalions of Jewish soldiers who fought within the British Army in World War I


Kibbutz - Jewish collective settlement. Hence, "Kibbutznik," a member of a Kibbutz.

Kol Israel - "Voice of Israel" - the Israel Broadcasting Service


Latrun - a detention camp for detainees held indefinitely without trial by the British Military in Palestine, and later it held the "illegal immigrants" that arrived on ships from Nazi Europe.

League of Nations - organized following WWI as an authoritative governing body of world leadership. It bestowed on Britain "authority" in Palestine and validated the Balfour Declaration.

LECHI - an underground organization founded by Avraham "Yair" Stern, also known as the Stern Group and Fighters for the Freedom of Israel.


Ma'appilim - see "Ha'apala"

martial law - complete stoppage of commerce and industry, no transportation between cities and on all roads, curfews at nightfall not allowing anyone out of their homes, and the growing scarcity of food owing to lack of transportation were the main sufferings of this act which intensely violated the Jews in their own homeland; to violate the curfews or martial law would mean instant arrest and imprisonment without trial, beatings by British soldiers, sentences sometimes ending in death, or being shot on sight..

Mossad (institution) - The organization responsible for illegal immigration (Bricha) of Jews from Europe into Palestine against British Mandate.


NILI - "The Eternal One of Israel Will Not Die"- WWI secret intelligence organization run by Aaron Aaronson that was instrumental in Britain's conquering the Ottoman Empire.

Notrim - "guards" - specialized Jewish police units within Haganah


Olim - New immigrants


Palmach - Units called the striking arm of the Haganah.

Peel Commission/Peel Report - British committee of six that toured Palestine after the 1936 riots to assess problems between Jews and Arabs in light of the "promises" of the British Mandate. The committee determined "no solution" could be composed to ensure desires of both nationalisms. The report therefore proposed the dividing of Palestine, making Jerusalem an international city with an enclave to the coast, and allotting the majority of land to the Arabs (reducing Eretz Israel from 50,000 sq miles to 2,000 sq miles. It was rejected by both Jews and Arabs.


Rakhesh - The arms and munitions procurement branch of the Haganah


Sarafand - a British army depot for weapons which was penetrated by underground units that "lifted" a large quantity of "supplies".

SHAI -  "information service" - The underground intelligence network of the Haganah.

Stockade and Tower - the system of building within a 24 hour period a tower with border fencing, thus complying with the British Mandate regulation on establishing new settlements, which was intended to make it impossible to establish new Jewish settlements in 1936.


United Nations - The world organization formed after WWII to provide leadership, economic assistance, military monitoring, and other influence to all nations in its association. Read Shmuel Katz / BATTLEGROUND page for more details of UN policies and programs.


A special committee on Palestine sent by the United Nations due to underground resistance to the British presence and military authority in Palestine. The 11 member committee interviewed detainees from Nazi concentration camps that were being held from immigration into Palestine, refugees from the ss Exodus 1947, and commanders of the Haganah and IZL. It recommended the following policies:

  • partition of Palestine into two states;
  • Jerusalem and its enclave to the coast an international city;
  • with an "economic union" of the two states (see IZL proclamation);
  • it called on the British to withdraw out of Palestine by 01 May 1948;
  • it proposed that a UN Commission be responsible to supervise the birth of the two states by 01 July 1948;
  • this UN Commission also maintaining order in the two states for the first two months.


Wailing Wall - The western wall of the Old City of Jerusalem; the site of Jewish prayers and shofar blowing.

Warsaw Ghetto - After Hitler's invasion of Poland, the Nazis forced all of the Warsaw Jewish community into a ghetto, systematically transporting them to the death camps. There was a resistance movement that held out for 36 days against the Nazis. The organization within the ghetto is an exemplary display of Hebrew valor and dignity amidst all adversities.


Yishuv - The Jewish community of Palestine prior to the establishment of the State of Israel.


Zion Mule Corps - Trumpeldor's military battalion within the British Army of World War I that later joins Jabotinsky's Judean Battalion to organize a formal Jewish military orgnaization in Palestine.

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