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Kemal Ataturk – He was the founder of modern Turkey (the Republic of Turkey) and was its first president. Following his successful military career as a division commander in WWI, he led the Turkish War of Independence to establish the Republic of Turkey. His introduced sweeping reforms to make Turkey modern, democratic and secular. The Western Wailing wall – Also known as the Kotel, the wall dates back to 516 BCE, when the Jewish Second temple was established. Traditionally, Jew mourned the destruction of the Temple at this wall. This is the holiest location for Jews to pray and it derives its holiest from being part of the Temple Mount religious site. Dome of the rock – Built in 687 AD, it is an Islamic shrine in the Temple Mount religious site. Muslims regard this site as the spot which Muhammad, the founder of Islam, ascended to the heavens and learned the Islamic prayers. In modern times, the Mosque forbids Jews and Christians from conducting service there. Sabra and Shatila – This was the site of a horrible massacre in 1982. It was the site of a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut Lebanon. The massacre was carried out by the Lebanese Forces militia while the Israeli Defense Force surrounded the outside of the refugee camps. The estimates of the casualties vary from 700 to 3,000 given the difficult political and geographic environment. Six day war – Israel and Egypt were long in a state of fear and mistrust after the Suez Crisis of 1956. A United Nations Emergency Force was stationed on the border to keep things quiet. However in 1967, Egypt kicked the UN forces out, stationed reinforcements along the border and blockaded the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships. The Israelis viewed this as an act of aggression and launched a preemptive attack on Egyptian air force bases. In the aftermath of the war, Israel gained control of eastern Jerusalem, Gaza strip, Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, and Golan Heights. Although it has since returned some of the captured territories, it is still occupying some of them to this very day. David Ben Gurion – The first Prime Minister of Israel. He was a principal character in the founding of Israel and supporter of Zionism (see below). During the 1948 Arab Israeli War, he successfully defended Israel to victory. Afterwards, he helped to establish many of the modern institutions and organize the waves of Jew immigrating back home. Hosni Mubarak – He became President of Egypt after the unfortunate assassination of President Anwar Al Sadat on October 1981. During the tumultuous period of the 70, he was a military officer during War of Attrition and Yom Kippur War. After he took office, he maintained the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, reestablished relationships with the rest of the Arab world (including rejoining the Arab league and moving the headquarters back to Cairo), cracked down on extremist Islamic groups, and supportive of UN efforts during the Persian Gulf War. 1948 – The 1948 Arab-Israeli War occurred shorted after the State of Israel declared itself as an independent nation on May 14. US and USSR quickly recognized Israel as a new state. During the
process of partitioning Israel from Palestine, thousands of people had already been killed in “terrorist” acts on both sides. At the end of May, about 25,000 Syrian, Iraqi, Transjordanian, and Egyptian troops entered Palestine and approached the newly formed states. The Israeli Defense Forces managed to defend Israel and ended with the Armistice agreements splitting the region into Israel, the Gaza strip, and the West Bank. Anwar Sadat – He Egyptian president preceding Hosni Mubarak. During his Presidency, he led a military operation to liberate the Sinai Peninsula and Golan Heights. The early successes brought him popular support among fellow Arabs. However, soon after, the IDF gained back much of the land lost. He then initiated a breakthrough peace process with Israel, visiting the Knesset, and participated in the Camp David peace agreement. For these efforts, he was awarded the Noble Peace Prize. He was assassinated by Egyptian Islamic extremists who were against his views towards Israel. Sunni and Shiite – Sunni Muslims is the largest denomination of Islam. They accept the Caliphate of Abu Bakr following the death of Muhammad, who was chosen by a majority election. Shiites are the second largest denomination of Islam. They strictly follow the traditional teachings of Muhammad. They also consider the relatives of Muhammad to be the successor after his death because they believe in the bloodline. Al Jazeera – It is a television network similar to CNN that is based in Qatar. It is famous for the satellite TV channel of the same name that broadcasts Arabic news and current affairs programming, although the television network also produces other channels. Zionism – An international political movement dedicated to the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people. It was successful in creating the State of Israel in 1948. Today, its purpose is to help the Diaspora achieve self determination and assists in helping Jews move back. The movement has religious roots in the bible but it is secular in nature. Yasser Arafat – He was the leader of the both the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Authority until his death in 2004. Some people criticize him as a supporter of terrorist acts carried out under the name of the PLO. Others see him as fighting for the liberation of the oppressed Palestinians. Then of course, there’s the constant charge of corruption and weakness. Fatah – The Fatah movement was founded by Yasser Arafat. It is a major opposition party in the Palestinian organization. In 2006, it was ousted as the majority party in the parliament and replaced by Hamas. Hamas – Also known as the Islamic resistance movement. They are considered by many countries as a terrorist organization. They are known for the suicide bombings in Israel. Their state goal is to destroy Israel through Jihad. Gaza strip - Located on a narrow strip of land next to the Mediterranean Sea. It is the largest city and the capitol is Gaza, hence the name of the country Gaza strip. The place is under administrative control by the Palestinian authority. The airspace and maritime access is still controlled by the Israelis.
West bank - This landlocked territory is located on the west bank of the Jordan River in the Middle East. It was originally part of the British mandate for Palestinians but after the 1948 Arab Israeli war, the area came under Israeli control. Other countries such as Jordan have since claimed it as its territory. Today, it is considered by the UN as a sovereign territory Ahmadinejad - He is the president of Iran through an election. Recently he has been perusing nuclear weapons, much to the consternation of the other countries. Politically, he has been undoing earlier political and social reforms and implemented more socialist policies such as oil subsidies and assistance to poor families. Ehud Olmert - He assumed power as the Prime minister of Israel since Ariel Sharon’s debilitating medical condition. His party, Kadima, is a moderate party that is willing to offer territorial concessions. Olmert himself has said that Israel is willing to compromise for peace. Intifada - An Arabic term for uprising. Most Arabs supporting the intifada cause use violence to persue their objectives. There has been two major intifadas against Israel. The first intifada was in1987 and ended with the creation of the Palestinian National Authority. The second intifada began in 2000. 1967 - Six day war: Israel and Egypt were long in a state of fear and mistrust after the Suez Crisis of 1956. A United Nations Emergency Force was stationed on the border to keep things quiet. However in 1967, Egypt kicked the UN forces out, stationed reinforcements along the border and blockaded the Straits of Tiran to Israeli ships. The Israelis viewed this as an act of aggression and launched a preemptive attack on Egyptian air force bases. In the aftermath of the war, Israel gained control of eastern Jerusalem, Gaza strip, Sinai Peninsula, West Bank, and Golan Heights. Although it has since returned some of the captured territories, it is still occupying some of them to this very day. PLO - Palestinian liberation organization. It has both political and paramilitary divisions to pursue the goal of the liberation of the Palestinian people. It was originally founded by the Arab league and its stated aim is to destroy Israel through armed struggle. Golan Heights Temple Mount The Green Line 3