ACRI Welcomes New Director

Hagai El-Ad: ACRI’s New Executive Director

Cites effective public engagement, promoting the universality of human rights as top priorities

JERUSALEM – July 9, 2008 – Hagai El-Ad assumed the position of executive director this month at The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Israel’s leading human rights organization.

El-Ad takes the helm from Rachel Benziman, who led the organization for more than five years.

“It’s an honor and a humbling challenge to join ACRI, an organization that has defined human rights in Israel for decades and has improved the lives of so many of the individuals living here,” El-Ad said. “That being said, many enormous challenges lie ahead, and I vow to do my utmost in the struggle for human rights in Israel, backed by the outstanding professional abilities and commitment of ACRI’s board and staff, and the support of our friends and members.”

Among his most imminent priorities will be to engage the general public in ACRI’s work and values, and to promote the universality of human rights, El-Ad explained. “Human rights must be respected, in Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Nablus, Jerusalem, and anywhere else,” he said. “We must realize as human beings living in a democracy that our own rights are not, and cannot be, fully realized if the basic rights of all individuals are not respected.”

El-Ad brings to ACRI rich and varied experience as a leader in the field of human rights, in Israel and abroad. Most recently, he served as the first executive director of the Jerusalem Open House (JOH), the central community and advocacy center for the city’s LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community. During his tenure there, he launched the Jerusalem Gay Pride March, and contributed to the recognition of the LGBT community as a distinct and legitimate group within Israeli society.

Holding a master’s degree in physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, El-Ad studied at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for astrophysics for three years as a pre-doctoral fellow. While living in the U.S., he acted as the U.S. representative for the JOH, developing partnerships with American organizations and raising awareness of the challenges facing Israel’s LGBT community.

ACRI, similar in vision to organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in the United States or Liberty in the UK, is the country’s oldest and largest human and civil rights organization and the only one that deals with the entire spectrum of rights and liberties issues. ACRI’s 47 staff members work through litigation and legal advocacy, education, and public outreach to build toward our long-term vision of a just and democratic society that respects the equal rights of all its members.

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Categories: Democracy and Civil Liberties


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