Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaCohen Kook

(1865-1935) A Jewish rabbi of Russian origin. Kook immigrated to Palestine in 1904. He was involved in efforts to secure the Balfour Declaration, which declared British support of a future homeland for the Jews in Palestine. Kook believed God’s plan for the Jewish people and the messianic era of peace in the world would come through the Zionist movement to establish a Jewish state. In 1921, he was appointed the Ashkenazi Rabbi of Jerusalem and soon after became the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel. As part of his theological beliefs surrounding Jewish settlement of the biblical land of Israel, he tried to build channels of communication between secular Zionists, religious Jewish Zionists and non-Zionist Haredi Jews. See Rabbi Kook’s teachings in English, translated by David Shulman.

Ramallah Lynching

On October 12, 2002, at the onset of the Second Intifada, two Israeli army reservists were captured by Palestinian police in the West Bank city of Ramallah and brought to a Palestinian police station where they were killed and mutilated by a civilian mob. Footage of the event was broadcast by Israeli and international TV and was, for Israelis, one of the enduring images of the Second Intifada, particularly a photo of one of the men who participated in the killing triumphantly holding his blood stained hands out of the police station window. See "Lynch mob’s brutal attack," Martin Asser, BBC, October 13, 2000.


The term "refusenik" in Israel applies to conscientious objectors - Israeli soldiers or reservists who refuse to serve in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in the Israeli army altogether. For an Israeli to legally avoid military service based on the grounds of conscience or refusal, one must be granted Conscientious Objector status, which is extremely difficult to obtain. The Refusenik movement gained strength during the Second Intifada, when a group of Israeli reserve combat officers and soldiers drafted the Combatants’ Letter in January 2002, outlining their decision to refuse to serve in any capacity that would uphold Israel’s "illegal and thus immoral" occupation, founding Courage to Refuse. 623 Israelis signed onto the letter. Similar statements followed, including a September 2003 letter by Israeli Air Force Pilots, a December 2003 letter by an elite commando unit, and, in September 2014, a highly publicized letter by 43 military intelligence officers. Israeli high school seniors who collectively declare their refusal to serve call themselves "Shministim" ("12th graders") after an earlier group of high school seniors in 1970 who, calling themselves the same name, sent a letter to then prime-minister Golda Meir, expressing concern about the newly occupied territories. Israel has court martialed hundreds for the refusal to serve and many refuseniks serve time in prison. See 2002 Combatants’ Letter; the website of the Refuser Solidarity Network; and "Who are the Shministim?" December18.org. See also "Why I Won’t Serve Israel," Moriel Rothman-Zecher, The New York Times, Jan 11, 2015.

Revisionist Zionism

The two main principles of Revisionist Zionism, established by Ze’ev Jabotinksy in 1925 as a more militaristic Zionist approach, were the territorial integrity of a Jewish homeland over all of British mandate Palestine and the immediate declaration of the Jewish right to political sovereignty. It was the major ideological competitor to the dominant Labor Zionism and is the ideological precursor to the current Israeli Likud party. See "Revisionist Zionism," U.S. Library of Congress, 1988.

Right of Return

Within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Right of Return has two connotations: For the 700,000-800,000 Palestinians who became refugees as a consequence of al-Nakba or the 1967 War, and for their descendants, the Right of Return refers to the refugees’ right to return to their pre-1948 and/or pre-1967 homes and lands, or to receive compensation if they freely choose not to return. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 affirms this right, as does Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it has yet to be implemented. The Right of Return for Palestinians remains one of the central issues to be resolved in a political solution between Israel and the Palestinians. By contrast, under the Israeli Law of Return, the Right of Return refers to the right of all Jews worldwide to make Aliyah (immigration) to Israel and receive immediate Israeli citizenship. The Law of Return, which was passed in 1950, was meant to facilitate the ingathering of all Jews worldwide and to bolster the Zionist vision of a Jewish state. See "Israel, Palestine and the Occupied Territories: The Right of Return of Palestinian Refugees," Global Policy Forum.

Road Map

Refers to a peace process proposed by the Middle East Quartet aimed at a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by 2005: "A performance-based and goal-driven roadmap, with clear phases, time lines, target dates, and benchmarks aiming at progress through reciprocal steps by the two parties in the political, security, economic, humanitarian, and institution-building fields, under the auspices of the Quartet [the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia" target="_blank">." The document was signed by the Quartet on April 30, 2003. Its goals have yet to be achieved, although it is still considered by some as a working paradigm. See "The roadmap: Full text," BBC, April 30, 2003.

Rocket attacks on Israelis

Rocket attacks began in the Gaza Strip in 2001, with the advent of Qassam rockets (crude projectiles lacking any guidance system that take their name from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.) Initially, the rockets (and also mortars) were launched primarily at Israeli settlements and military installations by Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and other militant groups. Rockets and mortars targeting communities inside Israel grew over time, especially in and around the town of Sderot, located near the border with Gaza. Rocket fire increased sharply after Israel’s unilateral Gaza Disengagement. (Between 2002-2005, 702 rockets were launched into Israel, killing 14 and injuring 221. In 2006, 1,247 rockets were fired into Israel, killing four and wounding 18.) Some analysts point to this being evidence that Palestinians don’t want peace, as the withdrawal was greeted with increased rocket fire and the election of Hamas. Other analysts have argued that, had the settlement withdrawal been negotiated with the Palestinian Authority, this may have increased support for negotiations; instead, the unilateral disengagement created the impression that armed resistance had driven the Israelis out of Gaza, a perception which may have contributed to the increased rocket fire and Hamas’s victory. In 2007, Katyusha rockets began to be fired from Gaza, which had formerly been formerly fired only from Lebanon by Hezbollah. Rockets primarily have landed in towns and cities in southern Israel, but in recent years, rockets began to expand their reach, and during the 2012 and 2014 Gaza Wars, rockets landed near Jerusalem, in Tel Aviv, at the Ben Gurion airport, and as far north as Hadera, though they had very small payloads. Israel frequently responds to rocket fire with bombing in the Gaza Strip, which has led to numerous casualties and fatalities. Stopping rocket fire has been the reason Israel gave for all three Gaza Wars, though many analysts maintain that stopping rocket fire was a pretext for the wars rather than the reason. Rocket fire has often increased after Israeli violations of ceasefire agreements or other transgressions. Though the rockets are crude and the number of Israeli casualties and fatalities are relatively low given the number of projectiles fired, human rights organizations condemn rocket attacks as an indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians and label such attacks as war crimes. See "Rocket and mortar fire into Israel," B’Tselem, July 24, 2014.

Russian Compound

Located in Jerusalem, and originally an Ottoman cavalry parade ground, the compound was constructed from 1860-1864 and includes a Russian Orthodox church, former hospices for pilgrims, courtyards, and was an historic destination for Russian Christian pilgrims. During the British Mandate period, it also housed British police headquarters and a prison where Jews and Arabs were both imprisoned. Now, among other functions, the compound serves as an Israeli police headquarters and a detention and Shabak interrogation center, known to Palestinians as "Al-Musqubiya." See "Detention Centers," No Legal Frontiers, 2011.

Yitzhak Rabin

(1922–1995) A Jewish Israeli political and military figure. Prior to Israel’s establishment in 1948, Rabin served in the Palmach unit of the Jewish paramilitary group Haganah. Following many years in the military, Rabin was appointed Chief of Staff of the Israeli army in 1964 and oversaw Israeli military action during the 1967 War. A member of the Labor party, he served as Israeli Ambassador to the United States from 1968-1973. He then went on to become the first native-born Israeli Prime Minster, serving from 1974-1977 and a second term from 1992 until his assassination in 1995. Rabin was also Defense Minister from 1984–1990 during the First Intifada, which he sought to crush militarily. His strategy during that period was characterized by the order for "force, might and beatings." In 1993, in his capacity as Prime Minister, Rabin launched the Oslo Process with the Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat. The two shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize along with Shimon Peres. He later helped broker the 1994 Israeli-Jordanian Peace Treaty. Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995 by a Jewish extremist. See "Remembering Rabin, Some See His Legacy Fading," Ethan Bronner, The New York Times, Oct 28, 2010.