ACRI in the News: November – December 2012


This Friday, we march for the right ‘to be human’ – December 5, 2012 (+972) by Hagai El-Ad, ACRI Executive Director

Every year, throughout the year, we fight so that we can all be human. One day a year, on the day of the Human Rights March, we stand together: different people from different communities, who entered the world with a myriad of differences, but who find a shared path.

Celebrating human rights in Israel – December 4, 2012 (Jerusalem Post) by Marc Grey, ACRI International Press Liaison

Holding the state’s feet to the fire is not a method of attacking it but rather a way of strengthening it. . . . Case by case, Israel’s human rights organizations are building the infrastructure of a legal system crucial to the ongoing development of the country.

ACRI challenges the Acceptance to Communities Law

Rare panel of 9 to hear discrimination case – December 4, 2012 (Jerusalem Post)

Human rights groups seek to strike down law blocking Arabs, gays, disabled from living in hundreds of Galilee, Negev communities.

ACRI noted that after two years, “the state is still unable to specify which communities are permitted to employ acceptance committees, and has failed to established appeals committees as required by the law.”

A fraught civil rights case nears an end in Israel’s High Court – December 4, 2012 (Times of Israel)

Israel’s High Court heard closing arguments Tuesday in one of the country’s key civil rights cases of recent years — an appeal against a new law protecting the right of small communities to bar would-be residents they deem undesirable.

The communal settlements, [the petitioners] charged, were not pioneer outposts but gated communities that had been given legal license to exclude others from a public resource — state land.

“These are suburban communities, like all other suburban communities,” attorney Gil Gan-Mor of ACRI told the court. He called the appeal “another round in a struggle that has lasted 20 years.”

ACRI’s fight against denial of Bedouin citizens’ right to vote

In Israel, democracy is delayed for Bedouin – December 10, 2012 (Haaretz)

Last week, 27 local authorities held elections; it was democracy in action. Only in one regional council did the Interior Ministry cancel the basic right to choose and be chosen: the Abu Basma council in the northern Negev, which is run by Jewish officials, as it has been since its establishment a decade ago – even though the council governs a population consisting entirely of Bedouin residents.

The election that was supposed to take place last week in Abu Basma was forced on the Interior Ministry by a High Court of Justice ruling almost two years ago, in a suit filed by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and the Adalah legal advocacy group for Arabs in Israel. “Only an extreme and exceptional event would justify another postponement,” wrote the president of the Supreme Court at the time, Dorit Beinisch.

For Bedouin father, Israel is his children’s ‘No. 1 enemy’ – November 16, 2012 (Haaretz)

“The postponement of the elections to an unknown date is an infringement of the basic right to vote and to be elected,” says ACRI attorney Rawia Abu Rabia. “The splitting of the council and the continued management by Jews will make it easier for the government to implement the Prawer Report than would be the case if Bedouin headed the council. The government’s policy, including home demolitions and the use of large police forces, is intended to send a message to the Bedouin population: either accept the Prawer committee report or we will make your lives miserable. It is a policy aimed at pushing the Bedouin to behave violently. It will be easier to implement the report when they are shown to be people who disrespect the law.”

ACRI responds to Interior Ministry’s violent raid of Bedouin village


Clashes erupt in Bedouin village as Israel’s Interior Ministry distributes demolition orders – November 13, 2012 (Haaretz)

Residents of a Bedouin village in the Negev claim that police fired tear gas canisters at a local school Monday during clashes that erupted when Interior Ministry inspectors tried to distribute demolition orders for illegal construction.

Attorney Rawia Aburabia of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel countered that the police violence should be investigated. She also objected to the demolitions. “The whole issue of construction without permits is expected to be sorted out during the process of obtaining recognition for the town,” she explained. “Under these circumstances, it would behoove the authorities to refrain from demolitions until the planning process is completed.”

Israeli Police Arrest 19 in Clashes over Village Demolition – November 13, 2012 (Fars News Agency)

Nineteen people were arrested during clashes between police and local residents at the Beduin village of Bir Hadaj.

Attorney Ruwia Aburabia of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said that while Bir Hadaj has been a recognized village for almost a decade and has a master plan for its construction, the residents face great difficulty in receiving building permits.

Fighting the Anti-Boycott Law in the courts

Court to gov’t: Explain ‘Anti-Boycott Law’ by March 2013 – December 10, 2012 (Jerusalem Post)

The High Court of Justice on Monday issued a conditional order requesting that the government explain its “Anti-Boycott Law,” which various organizations have accused of being in violation of the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

A number of groups petitioned the law last week, claiming it does not require proving actual damages have occurred at all. The petitioners included Gush Shalom, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and many others.

The Court set a deadline of March 14, 2013 for the government to respond to the petitions.

Court freezes Anti-Boycott Law after petitions – December 10, 2012 (Jerusalem Post)

The High Court of Justice on Monday froze the Anti-Boycott Law, issuing an interim order to the state to explain why the law should not be struck down.

The Anti-Boycott Law was passed in July 2011 and imposes sanctions on any individual or entity that calls for an economic boycott of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank or of Israel itself. The petitioners, including Gush Shalom, Adalah – the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and many others, said the law does not require proving that actual damages have occurred.

Israel’s High Court to state: Explain why Boycott Law should remain in effect – December 10, 2012 (Haaretz)

The High Court of Justice on Monday ordered the state to explain why the controversial Boycott Law should not be canceled, and decided to continue deliberations on petitions from civil rights groups claiming it infringes on rights of freedom of expression, dignity and equality.

The petition was submitted by attorneys Hassan Jabareen and Sawsan Zaher from the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and Dan Yakir from the Association of Civil Rights in Israel on behalf of the Public Committee Against Torture, the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism, the Center for the Defense of the Individual and Yesh Din.

Supreme Court criticizes government’s use of private security in East Jerusalem

Court examines use of private guards in east J’lem – December 13, 2012 (Jerusalem Post)

The High Court of Justice heard initial arguments on Wednesday afternoon regarding a petition by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel to block the use of private security guards for Jewish residents who live in predominantly Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. The petition, filed in November 2011, claims the presence of private guards is unlawful and that security should be the responsibility of the Jerusalem police rather than a private contracting company.

ACRI attorney Keren Tzafir was optimistic after the court session. “The courts understand the problematic aspects of private security guards,” she said. “What they said was important that the state has no right [to do this], that there is no reason why it was done like this and no reason why it should continue.”

High Court raps Housing Ministry over private security for Jewish homes in East Jerusalem – December 13, 2012 (Haaretz)

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday rebuked the Housing Ministry for employing private security guards to guard Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem. The remarks came as the court heard a petition filed on behalf of East Jerusalem Palestinians by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel and demanding an end to the practice.

In 2006 the cabinet gave the Israel Police and the Public Security Ministry, which oversees it, responsibility for security in East Jerusalem, in keeping with the recommendation of the Orr Committee. But a few months later the cabinet revoked the resolution. In 2010 the Housing Ministry employed 360 security guards in East Jerusalem, at an annual cost of NIS 52 million. A year ago Haaretz reported that the ministry allocated an additional NIS 5 million to protect Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem, which was taken from other budget line items.

Fighting continuing neglect in East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem, where the streets had no names – November 4, 2012 (Times of Israel)

In contrast to the orderly western half of the city, where Jews live, the often rundown, predominantly Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem have for decades existed without street names or house numbers, causing confusion.

“It’s like uncharted territory,” said Nisreen Alyan, a lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, which lobbied to address the confusion.

A surprising process of ‘Israelization’ is taking place among Palestinians in East Jerusalem – December 29, 2012 (Haaretz)

A year ago, for the first time, the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israel postal service established a post office in the village of Isawiyah, which lies below Mount Scopus, within the municipal boundaries. Along with the opening of the new branch − part of a plan to improve postal services in East Jerusalem − the village streets were given names and the houses received numbers. These developments followed a petition to the High Court of Justice, submitted by residents with the aid of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. But the municipality could not find a site for the post office, since most of the buildings in the village were illegal structures, so their future was thus in question.

ACRI’s Annual Report 2012 – Human Rights in Israel and the OPT

Israel guilty of ‘bleak’ and ‘severe’ human rights abuses, local NGO asserts – December 16, 2012 (Times of Israel)

According to the 2012 report of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the situation in Israel is “bleak” in almost every category of human rights, particularly housing. The report does also mention some positive developments, mainly in the area of healthcare.

“Asylum seekers are persecuted relentlessly. The occupation of the West Bank and the regime of discrimination are bolstered by doublespeak and efforts to silence opposition. Affordable housing is nowhere to be found and water has become a luxury. Large social protests are no longer permitted in the public sphere and the police and judicial authority are privatized while the High Court of Justice becomes less accessible,” ACRI said in a statement coinciding with the report’s publication.

Report: 2012 record year for incitement – December 16, 2012 (Ynet)

Lack of affordable housing, rise in water rates, persecution of asylum seekers and discrimination against Palestinians – these are some the trends highlighted in the 2012 human rights report released by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on Sunday.

‘Racism, violence against Africans soars in 2012’ – December 16, 2012 (Jerusalem Post)

Inflammatory and “xenophobic” remarks toward African refugees, a lack of affordable housing, persistent destruction of Palestinian and Beduin homes and a lack of freedom of speech were the top issues flagged by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) in its annual report titled “The State of Human Rights in Israel and the OPT” published Sunday.

The report was not entirely rife with negative condemnations; it lauded efforts made by the Health Ministry to improve living conditions for the disabled. Additionally, Israel’s decision to join the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in September demonstrated its willingness to be more accommodating and reduce discrimination against people with physical or mental impairments, ACRI said.

ACRI Opposes the Disqualification of Election Campaigns

Concerns Over Freedom of Speech After Ad Campaign Disqualified – December 13, 2012 (Israel National News)

However, Dan Yakir, the legal advisor of the The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, while agreeing that the slogan might have been distasteful, holds that the election committee does not and should not have the authority to dictate a party’s campaign adsunless there is a clear incitement to violence. “The campaign of Otzma LeYisrael is obscene, and its clear purpose is to delegitimize the Arab public,” said Yakir.

“However, the decision to reject the ad campaign raises objections,” he added, saying that Rubinstein’s decision, “was given with a lack of authority, since the law does not authorize the Chairman of the Election Committee to intervene in the content of billboards. This is problematic mainly because this is not the way to deal with incitement to racism. Political statements deserve wider constitutional protection – during elections in particular. Therefore it is appropriate to disqualify only expressions that lead to a near certain incitement to racism, and this is not the case. ”

“A firm rejection like this is not the solution,” said Yakir. “What is needed is a determined struggle – the kind we do not see today – against racism, primarily on the part of public officials.”

Israeli human rights group: disagree with decision to ban racist ad of political party – December 16, 2012 (Alternative News, AIC)

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) “disagrees” with the decision of Central Elections Committee Chairman Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, to ban the racist advertising campaign of the Otzma Leyisrael party.

Dan Yakir, ACRI Legal Counsel, notes in a press release that while “Otma Leyisrael’s campaign is obscene, and its clear purpose is to de-legitimize the Arab community… the decision to disqualify the campaign is problematic. To begin with, it was taken without the necessary authority, as the law does not grant the chairperson of the Central Elections Committee authority to interfere with the content of billboards. Primarily, though, the decision is problematic because it is not the proper vehicle to stop incitement to racism.”

ACRI working to protect individuals and public against privacy violations

Pilot for Israel’s biometric database to begin in January – November 28, 2012 (Haaretz)

The Knesset approved Wednesday a directive to include biometric means of identification and biometric identification data in identification documents and databases. This means that the trial period of the controversial biometric database will begin in January 2013.

The law, which was passed in 2009, aroused a great deal of opposition, but recently, as a result of a petition to the High Court of Justice by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel and the Digital Rights Movement, the government decided to amend the directive that initiates the law’s trial period.

Public money, private eyes – November 30, 2012 (Haaretz)

A single mother of three in the advanced stages of pregnancy, who is being identified simply as D., just wanted to receive the discount on Givat Shmuel’s municipal day-care to which she was entitled. She submitted an application, including the documents attesting to her financial situation, but quickly found herself in the midst of a probe by a private investigations firm, hired by the Social Affairs Ministry.

ACRI alleges that the government’s use of private eyes is inappropriate – it oversteps authority, and harms people’s basic right to privacy, dignity and fair process.

ACRI protests harassment of human rights activists in the occupied territories

Activists personally served with IDF closure orders – November 13, 2012 (Jerusalem Post)

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel has sent a letter to the IDF Military Advocate- General (MAG) protesting the “closed military zone” orders that the IDF personally served to activists this week in their homes.

According to a Tuesday night press release from ACRI, the orders suppress Palestinians’ and Israelis’ right to protest, and violate their fundamental freedom of expression.

The letter urged MAG Maj.- Gen. Danny Efroni to cancel the orders. It also called on him to clarify the scope and basis of regulations and procedures of closed military zone orders, since such orders could have the effect of suppressing nonviolent protests in the West Bank.

IDF: Offices searched in Ramallah served terror – December 11, 2012 (Jerusalem Post)

The army carried out searches overnight of offices in Ramallah used by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terrorist organization, an IDF spokeswoman said on Tuesday. Palestinian sources said the searches took place at the offices of the Women’s Union, the Palestinian NGO Network and Addameer, an advocate for Palestinians in Israeli prisons, and that soldiers confiscated five computers from the latter group.

“The undersigned organizations protest yesterday’s aggressive treatment of three Palestinian civil society organizations by the Israeli military and demand that all property seized be restored and that the work of civil society organizations — and especially those comprised of human rights defenders – be protected and respected,” the statement said. The statement was signed by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel; The Association for Civil Rights in Israel; Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement; Hamoked – Center for the Defense of the Individual; Physicians for Human Rights – Israel; The Public Committee against Torture in Israel; Rabbis for Human Rights and Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights.

IDF to reduce time Palestinian minors may be held without seeing a judge – December 20, 2012 (Haaretz)

For offenses not defined as security-related, the amount of time Palestinian youth age 12 and 13 can be held without seeing a judge will be reduced from 48 to 24 hours. The pre-court-appearance arrest period for the 14-18 age group will remain 48 hours.

In 2010, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Yesh Din and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel petitioned the High Court of Justice over the disparity between incarceration times for Palestinians and Israelis. The petition was then combined with a similar petition brought by the attorney representing the Palestinian Prisoners Ministry.

In April, the High Court recommended that the state reconsider the initial incarceration period for Palestinian minors, resulting in this week’s announcement to the court by the state.

The state informed the High Court of Justice of the reduction this week, however the initial incarceration period for Palestinians remains at least twice as long as for Israeli youths.

Palestinian minors’ detention time in W. Bank cut – December 18, 2012 (Jerusalem Post)

State attorney announces major changes in significantly shortened detention periods under IDF detention policies.

In response, spokesmen and attorneys for ACRI and the PA’s Prisoners Affairs Ministry called the development “positive.” However, they also expressed concerns that in some areas, particularly with adults and security-prisoners, that the policies still needed to change and improve.

Victory in ACRI’s petition on behalf of Tel Aviv homeless

Tel Aviv judge chastises city for kicking homeless out of public spaces – November 20, 2012 (Haaretz)

The decision comes in response to a petition filed by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel in October 2011, after the city evacuated social protesters’ encampments, leaving homeless people in the boulevards and parks.

ACRI urges new policy on stateless people to go further

Israel adopts new protocol for stateless people – November 28, 2012 (Haaretz)

The Immigration and Population Authority recently issued a new procedure for dealing with stateless people living in Israel, under which, for the first time, a stateless person may ask the Interior Ministry for recognition as lacking citizenship in Israel or any other country, without being arrested or jailed.

“I applaud that the Interior Ministry has finally formulated a procedure for stateless people to request status,” said ACRI attorney Oded Feller. “However, the procedure does not fulfill the state’s obligation toward stateless people under the international convention, including social rights, health insurance, education and welfare, whether they arrived in the country as tourists, entered illegally or were born here.”

ACRI’s Fourth Annual Human Rights March

Thousands expected at fourth annual Human Rights March – November 26, 2012 (Jerusalem Post)

The annual march was inaugurated in 2009 and every year has drawn thousands of people. According to the ACRI, many of those taking part “felt marginalized by repressive policies and a hostile wave of anti-democratic legislation.”

Thousands rally for human rights in Israel – December 7, 2012 (United Press International)

Thousands of people gathered on the streets of Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday for the fourth annual Human Rights March, officials said.

Association for Civil Rights in Israel President Sami Michael addressed the crowd at Rabin Square with a speech dedicated to women’s rights.

“Billions are invested in national defense, but very little is in invested in defending women who on a daily basis face oppression, harassment, violence and murder,” Michael said. “Discrimination against women means that society loses out on their enormous and blessed contribution.”

Thousands take to Tel Aviv streets for annual human rights march – December 7, 2012 (Haaretz)

Waving signs and shouting slogans pertaining to issues such as treatment of migrants, occupation, and the cost of living, the demonstrators set out on foot from Tel Aviv’s Kikar Habima to Rabin Square, where a “human rights concert” began at 12:30 P.M. local time.

This year, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel decided to change the nature of the event. Instead of a series of speeches, and a few musical performances, there will be many performances, and only one speech from the association’s president, Sammi Michael. Israeli bands and musicians including Shlomi Saranga, Boom Pam, Noam Rotem, Miryam Tukan, and others, were scheduled to perform at the event.

Photos: 2012 Human Rights March in Tel Aviv – December 8, 2012 (+972)

On Friday, December 7th, thousands hit the streets of Tel Aviv for the annual Human Rights March, put on by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). The march gathered more than 130 organizations that promote human rights, social change, equality, and democracy. The march marked International Human Rights Day, which is observed every year on December 10th, the day in which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Dedication to ACRI in Final Column:

Before the 1967 lines retire, too – November 13, 2012 (Haaretz) by Akiva Eldar

This is my final column in Haaretz. I have chosen to devote it to Naim, to Yuval and to Dalia, to the volunteers at Machsom Watch and the Road to Recovery, all of whom took part in Saturday’s visit. I also want to dedicate it to other activists or groups working toward peace: Dror Etkes, Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence, Peace Now, Gisha, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Rabbis for Human Rights, B’Tselem and the New Israel Fund.

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Categories: East Jerusalem, Anti-Democratic Initiatives, Arab Citizens of Israel, Arab Minority Rights, Area C Villages, Citizenship and Residency, Citizenship and Residency, Democracy and Civil Liberties, Freedom of Expression, Housing Rights, Human Rights Education, Negev Bedouins and Unrecognized Villages, Planning and Building Rights, Racism and Discrimination, Refugees and Asylum-Seekers, Social and Economic Rights, The Occupied Territories, The Right to Equality, The Right to Privacy, Use of Force, Women's Rights

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