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A dictionary of words often used in relation to Palestine. Sources credit and link you to where the organisations who have defined them


48 is the term the majority of Palestinians call parts of Palestine taken in 1948 and now more widely referred to as Israel.


Ethnic cleansing has been defined by a UN Commission of experts as ‘rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from an area.’ It is ‘a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.’


A state or organisation appeals to environmentalism to deflect attention from its harmful practices


An Intifada is an uprising or rebellion against oppression and tyranny. Coming from the Arabic root word nafada, its literal meaning is “shaking off”. The word has come to be strongly associated with the Palestinian cause and resistance to tyranny, especially after the wide-scale protests, civil disobedience, boycotts and other forms of resistance against Israel during the Intifada of 1987 and Aqsa Intifada of 2000.

While the word is heavily associated with Palestine, its usage predates the Palestinian Intifadas. For example, the Bread Intifada of 1977 in Egypt.



The Nakba is Arabic for “catastrophe” or “calamity”, and it refers to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine at the hand of Zionist militias between 1947-1948 and the subsequent establishment of the state of Israel. This campaign of ethnic cleansing took place before, during and after the war of 1948, and saw approximately 800,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes, and over 530 Palestinian communities demolished. Today, Israel can only maintain itself as an ethnocracy by perpetuating the displacement of these refugees and their descendants.


A state or organisation appeals to LGBTQ+ rights to deflect attention from its harmful practices.


Settler-colonialism can be defined as a system of oppression based on genocide and colonialism, that aims to displace a population of a nation (oftentimes indigenous people) and replace it with a new settler population. Settler colonialism finds its foundations on a system of power perpetuated by settlers that represses indigenous people’s rights and cultures by erasing it and replacing it by their own.


Zionism is a nationalist, political ideology that called for the creation of a Jewish state. The political ideology of Zionism, regardless of which strain, has resulted in the establishment of a Jewish nation-state in the land of historic Palestine and the continued support of Israel as such a state. Zionism has been described as a form of settler colonialism in relation to Palestine. Theodor Herzl, an Austrian Jew, is considered the “father” of political Zionism. The Zionist movement started in the late 19th century in the context of a set of huge changes in political, cultural, social landscape of Jewish life in Europe, along with the general rise of nationalist movements and nation-state political forms.


The term “apartheid” was originally used to refer to a political system in South Africa which explicitly enforced racial segregation, and the domination and oppression of one racial group by another. It has since been adopted by the international community to condemn and criminalize such systems and practices wherever they occur in the world.

Apartheid can best be understood as a system of prolonged and cruel discriminatory treatment by one racial group of members of another with the intention to control the second racial group.

Apartheid is a violation of public international law, a grave violation of internationally protected human rights, and a crime against humanity under international criminal law.



According to international law, genocide means ‘acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious groups’. The term was coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent who led the campaign to have genocide recognised as an international crime. According to Lemkin, a key component of genocide is ‘criminal intent to destroy or cripple permanently a human group.’ Victims are deliberately targeted not as individuals but because of their membership of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.


The word Hasbara roughly translates to "explaining" in English and was popularised in the early 20th century by the Polish Zionist activist and journalist Nahum Sokolow.

Hasbara shares much in common with other forms of modern propaganda, but it is often considered a description of the more granular, event-by-event distortions and fabrications utilised by the Israeli state to justify its controversial actions and policies.


Imperialism can be defined as a doctrine, political strategy, practice, state policy, or advocacy that consists in extending power by territorial acquisition or by extending political and economic control outward over other areas. Imperialism oftentimes involves the use of military and economic power, and always aims for more expansion and collective or individual domination. 


Memoricide is the destruction of the memory, extermination of the past of targeted people. It also refers to destruction of the traces (such as religious buildings or schools) that might recall the former presence of those considered undesirable.

Memoricide is used in support of ethnic cleansing. Since memoricide refers to intentional attempts to erase human memory about something, it usually takes the form of destruction of physical property. The term was coined by Croatian doctor Mirko Grmek in a text published in Le Figaro on 19 December 1991. Historian Ilan Pappe deployed the concept of cultural memoricide as systematic attempt of post-1948 Israel in relation to Palestine.


Scholasticide is a term that was first coined by Professor Karma Nabulsi, an Oxford don and Palestinian expert on the laws of war. She conceptualized it in the context of the Israeli assault on Gaza, Palestine in 2009, but also with reference to a pattern of Israeli colonial attacks on Palestinian scholars, students, and educational institutions going back to the Nakba of 1948, and expanding after the 1967 war on Palestine and the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.


Settler colonialism differs from classic colonialism in the following way: colonialism is the act of power and domination of one nation, by acquiring or maintaining full or partial political control over another sovereign nation. Settler colonialism has an additional criterion that is the complete destruction and replacement of indigenous people and their cultures by the settler’s own in order to establish themselves as the rightful inhabitants. Therefore, settlers do not only exploit indigenous people’s lands and resources, but they displace them, modify the names of the cities and places they colonize in order to completely erase the indigenous’ tracks.


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