Vol. 19



Vol. 19 May 2015





Human Rights under Pressure
-Sapir Dayan-

The Faculty recently launched a new interdisciplinary and international doctoral program focusing on the area of human rights. Our students participate in the program alongside doctoral candidates from Freie Universitat Berlin, a German “University of Excellence”. Two of the students in the program – Attorney Limor Yehuda and Attorney Rawia Aburabia – told us about their areas of research and shared some insights about this fascinating program.



Alumni for Ever
- Sapir Dayan -

What do Ruvi Rivlin, Yaacov Neeman, Ephraim Halevy, Aharon Barak, and Gabriela Shalev have in common? What common denominator connects Shimon Mizrachi, Adi Kol, Dov Khenin, Naftali Bennett, and Ram Oren? And what about Daniel Friedman, Ruth Gabison, Dorit Beinisch, and Eli Moyal? If you need a clue, just look at the title of this article.



The International Human Rights Clinic
- Sapir Dayan -

Every student at the Faculty knows that the legal clinics offer one of the most interesting experiences the Faculty has to offer. In this issue, we focus on the International Human Rights Clinic.




Short meetings with faculty students

Editor: Ronen Polliack
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Law - All Rights Reserved

Alumni for Ever

Alumni for Ever


What do Ruvi Rivlin, Yaacov Neeman, Ephraim Halevy, Aharon Barak, and Gabriela Shalev have in common? What common denominator connects Shimon Mizrachi, Adi Kol, Dov Khenin, Naftali Bennett, and Ram Oren? And what about Daniel Friedman, Ruth Gabison, Dorit Beinisch, and Eli Moyal? If you need a clue, just look at the title of this article.


- Sapir Dayan -



The alumni of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University are everywhere, it seems. Many of our graduates can today be found among the decision-making echelon of Israeli public life; many others occupy key positions in the nation’s economic and commercial life. For decades, Faculty graduates have filled senior positions in every conceivable field – presidents and prime ministers, Supreme Court justices and social activists, businesspeople and leading lights in the cultural sphere.


Two Faculty alumni decided to bring together this powerful group of individuals under a single roof: The Alumni Club of the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University. Amir Luzon and Gil Pacht, the two alumni who founded the club, explain their initiative: “Faculty alumni form part of the elite of Israeli society, and many of them work in key positions. Encouraging interaction and connections among the alumni can help spark social or commercial cooperation to the benefit of Israeli society and the graduates themselves. Our goal is to provide a platform that can help the alumni to grow, to support each other, and, of course, to develop and empower Israeli society. In other countries, any self-respecting faculty has an alumni organization that runs diverse activities and encourages networking. So far, such organizations haven’t really been established in Israel. Our aim is to be like the alumni organizations in other countries, that organized alumni meetings and develop a long-term tradition.”


One of the projects that Luzon and Pacht are currently planning is called Alumni at the Bar. The idea is to expose recent graduates to veteran alumni who can tell them about their lives and experiences. A meeting is due to take place shortly between alumni and Prof. Gabriela Shalev (who is herself a graduate of the Faculty). The meeting will offer alumni a chance to hear about her life, her experience as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, her views regarding the world of law, and any other aspects they find interesting. Subsequent meetings will also provide an encounter with alumni who now occupy key positions in the commercial and political realms.


One of the projects that Luzon and Pacht are currently planning is called Alumni at the Bar. The idea is to expose recent graduates to veteran alumni who can tell them about their lives and experiences. A meeting is due to take place at July 30 between alumni and Prof. Gabriela Shalev (who is herself a graduate of the Faculty) in Tel Aviv. The meeting will offer alumni a chance to hear about her life, her experience as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, her views regarding the world of law, and any other aspects they find interesting. Another meeting is scheduled to October 15 with former Supreme court judge Ms. Dalia Dorner (who is also a faculty alumni) in Jerusalem. Subsequent meetings will also provide an encounter with alumni who now occupy key positions in the commercial and political realms. In addition, in the past few weeks the Alumni club has worked on a special and free offer for the faculty's alumni with Codex. Further details will soon be published.


Another intriguing project that is still being developed is a mentoring program whereby veteran alumni of the Faculty will “adopt” graduates who are just starting out on their professional path. The project will focus mainly on peripheral areas of Israel, reflecting the club’s social agenda and its desire to work for the good of Israeli society. “Over the years, the Faculty and its alumni have been partners in shaping Israeli identity, Israeli society, and Israeli law. The Faculty has an unparalleled record in terms of the number of alumni who have reached key public positions. These alumni have created a legal tradition that embodies certain values. They have taken these values with them to the positions they fill, and we believe it is important to preserve this tradition.”


Where did you get the ideas for the activities from? What was your source of inspiration?

“We hold brainstorming meetings with volunteers, study how alumni clubs operate in other countries, and examine the services provided by similar bodies. We contacted our alumni overseas to learn what is on offer there and what’s missing here in Israel. We are trying to meet the needs of the alumni in the best possible way. We put a lot of thought into each project or new idea in order to respond to the needs of as many alumni as possible,” explains Nuphar Gafny, the club’s executive director.


The Alumni Club is a registered association established by Gil and Amir, based on an idea they formulated while they were active in the student union. After completing the formal process of establishing the club with the Registrar of Associations, they founded a website. Later, volunteers joined the club, Nuphar was appointed executive director, and a board was elected. In addition to Gil and Amir, the board members include Professor David Gliksberg, the Faculty representative, and Mr. Shai Beltz, who represents today’s students – tomorrow’s alumni.


How have people reacted to the initiative?

“The Faculty supported the initiative and continues to be very supportive. The Faculty itself is increasingly planning activities that facilitate interaction with alumni. Today people realize how important this is. This is our objective – to create synergy between the activities of the Alumni Club and the Faculty’s programs so that the alumni will have the strongest possible connection to the institution that imbued them with their values. The alumni themselves have reacted very positively and the response rate is impressive. We already have around 850 members just from the preliminary registration stage. We attended reunions of the classes of 1984 and 2004 and saw people who hadn’t met for 10 or 30 years hugging each other and chatting as if they’d just left the Faculty. People at the reunions told us that it’s a pity that there aren’t more meetings and more opportunities for interaction between friends.”


It does not cost anything to join the Alumni Club and the club does not charge membership fees. Gil, Amir, and the other members do not receive a salary and work on a purely voluntary basis. “We are doing this out of a sense of gratitude for everything the Faculty has given us,” Gil and Amir explain. We are providing this platform free of charge. Come along and join us – be part of this important project! Almost every international academic institution has this kind of club. We urge all the alumni to take part in our activities, and encourage everyone to contribute in any way they can, whether by running activities, raising funds for the programs, or helping the club to grow. We promise that every shekel invested in the club will go to the activities themselves. We want to develop activities to help society at large, to preserve our legal heritage, and to hold reunions and meetings.” Executive director Nuphar Gafny adds: “From my perspective, the club will be successful if in a few years it is well established and well known, and if alumni use it to help each other. I’m sure we’ll manage to establish a brand of Faculty alumni and to use our strength for all kinds of goals to advance ourselves and to help society at large. The more of us there are, the more we can give.”


As I chatted with Gil, Amir, and Nuphar, the first though that came into my mind – as it does every time I encounter a positive and obvious idea – was “how come no-one thought of it before?!” Be that as it may, the club exists now, and all that’s left is for us to join this important initiative. You can register through the following link:http://law-alumni.org




Amir Luzon and Gil Pacht

Human Rights under Pressure

Human Rights under Pressure: The Joint Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Cooperation with Freie Universitat Berlin


The Faculty recently launched a new interdisciplinary and international doctoral program focusing on the area of human rights. Our students participate in the program alongside doctoral candidates from Freie Universitat Berlin, a German “University of Excellence”. Two of the students in the program – Attorney Limor Yehuda and Attorney Rawia Aburabia – told us about their areas of research and shared some insights about this fascinating program.


- Sapir Dayan -



The joint doctorate program launched by the Faculty and the Freie Universitat Berlin is the first ever joint Israeli-German doctorate program in any academic field. The program is entitled “Human Rights under Pressure – Ethics, Law, and Politics” (http://www.hr-up.net/). After a lengthy competitive selection process, the Einstein Foundation Berlin and the German Research Foundation DFG approved grants totalling 4.5 million Euros for the first five years of the program. The grant is intended for the formation of an international research group that will engage in joint interdisciplinary research at the Freie Universitat Berlin and at the Minerva Center for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


Rawia Aburabia
(photo: Gil Eitan)


The highly-prestigious program provides full funding for three years for the participating doctoral candidates, enabling them to devote their time to research. The researchers are examining aspects relating to the three most pressing contemporary challenges to human rights concepts: crises and states of emergency; multiculturalism; and globalization. The program is interdisciplinary, including doctoral students and researchers from a wide range of fields, such as law, political science, international relations, philosophy, criminology, history, sociology, comparative ethics, and education.


After a long and rigorous selection process requiring participants to be admitted both to their academic department of choice and to the program itself, seven outstanding doctoral candidates were chosen on both sides to join the first cycle of the program, and an additional six on each side have been recently selected for the second cohort, to begin their studies in October, 2015. The participants were selected from many dozens of research proposals submitted from around the globe. As part of their application, students were required to submit a detailed and coherent research plan and the approval of the plan was a key condition for admission to the program. The doctorate program is intended for the most outstanding students, but does not gauge excellence solely in terms of academic prowess. Several of the participants in the program have worked in civil society organizations and achieved excellence in their field of practice. After a long period of being engaged in practical work, they now feel the need to return to academia.


Attorney Aburabia, for example, began her career as a social worker, but felt that she lacked the tools to secure meaningful change. She went on to study law and became an attorney. After completing a Master’s degree at American University Washington DC, she worked for many years in the Association for Civil Rights in Israel as the head of programs for the Arab and Bedouin population in the Negev. She was also a member of an action group working to secure equality in laws relating to personal status.


Attorney Aburabia, how would you describe the transition from grassroots activism to academia?

“It wasn’t an easy move. I have a constant feeling that the grassroots are calling me and that I need to strike a balance between activism and academic research. In order to be a serious researcher I have to devote time to sitting down to study, read, and investigate. When I think about it, though, my research work is also motivated by activism. The subject I am working on is activist, and I guess that for me activism will always be there in the background. It’s simply a question of proportions – times when I’m a bit more or a bit less involved in activism. I can’t totally detach myself from the practical world, even when I’m engaged in academic work. This year, for example, I’m teaching a course, and that gives me an opportunity to combine theory and practice. In fact, I’m very interested in the interaction between academia and practical work. I don’t think that academia should be isolated from the field. Our academic work should yield tools that can help us secure social, political, and feminist advances.”



Limor Yehuda 
(photo: Faculty of Law website)

Tell us about your research subject.

“I’m writing about laws of personal status (marriage, divorce, and so forth) as these affect the Bedouin-Arab population in Israel from a political and legal perspective. I am attempting to argue that political perspectives influence personal status law in Israel. For example, I’m looking at what happens to women in the Sharia courts and how politics influences the law in general, and personal status law in particular. What really interests me is to examine the patriarchal and political perceptions surrounding family law in Israel, including the intricate colonialist roots of these laws.”


In your former position in the Association for Civil Rights in Israel you defended the rights of the Arab population in the Negev. But now, in your research work, you are involved in criticizing the attitude of this same population toward its female members. How do you cope with this complex reality?


“I think that anyone who believes in human rights is obliged to struggle against all forms of oppression, whether national or social. My research also criticizes the establishment for failing to do enough to protect Bedouin women and for maintaining the status quo in order to keep things quiet. I also criticize my own society and the patriarchal norms it perpetuates. Throughout my working life, I have always spoken out against national oppression while at the same time criticizing oppressive practices against women. I don’t see any contradiction; in fact, I think these are just two sides of the same coin. We need to look at the whole range of oppressions and combat them all. As a woman who is part of Bedouin society, I feel a double obligation to speak out against oppressive norms and work to combat them, since I speak on behalf of women whose voices are not heard.”


What do you hope to achieve through your research?

“I want to expose institutional and patriarchal political mechanisms of oppression and to provide Bedouin women with a voice – both in terms of revealing these mechanisms and in the literal sense of the word. I plan to interview women and ask them about their interactions with the Sharia courts, in order to present their silenced voices. I hope to make an academic contribution to discourse on the subject of Bedouin Arab women and to provide these women with a voice.”


Attorney Limor Yehuda has also returned to academia after working for many years in the human rights field. Attorney Yehuda served as a legal assistant in the team of President Aharon Barak at the Supreme Court. She later spent eight years working in the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, including a period as Director of the Human Rights in the Occupied Territories Department.


Attorney Yehuda, why did you decide to return to academic life?

“After working mainly in the human rights field for a lengthy period, I felt that I needed to study various areas and investigate them more deeply. I wanted to revitalize my conceptual approaches, and doctoral studies seemed to offer a good opportunity to do just that.”


Can you tell us about your research project?

“My project focuses on the role and significance of the principle of equality in resolving ethno-national conflicts and in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My supervisors are Professor Barak Medina and Professor Yuval Shany from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Prof. Anne Peters from Freie Universitat Berlin. Law students hear a lot about the principle of equality, and I was intensely involved in this issue during my period in the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Now I’m interested in examining whether this principle can be helpful in the context of conflict resolution. The principle of equality is a key foundation of our concept of justice. My hypothesis is that just as the violation of the principle of equality is one of the root causes of the conflict, so respecting equality could be a milestone on the path to its resolution. I will be considering the significance and function that equality could play in the transition from conflict to conflict resolution. We don’t usually think about peace processes and signed peace agreements as areas that are subject to the law – despite the fact that the outcome of the process is an agreement, which is ultimately a legal document. I’d like to examine whether his basic legal principle could be relevant to peace processes, and if so – to define exactly what this means and what ramifications it has in these contexts.”



Professor Tomer Broude of the Law Faculty and the Department of International Relations, serves as the Academic Director of the program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He explains that the research group includes a diverse group of students who are examining a wide range of subjects. This creates fertile ground for mutual enrichment – an essential component in this type of research, which must reach the very highest standard. Every year, around 14 new students will join the group, so that by the third year – the peak year of the project – it will comprise approximately 40 participants, divided equally between the Hebrew University and Freie Universitat Berlin.


Tomer Broude
(photo: Faculty of Law Website)


The joint aspect of the program is manifested in various ways. First, each research student has two supervisors, one from Jerusalem and one from Berlin. Since the two academic cultures are different, this should enrich the research work. Many of the professors on the Israeli side have a background of academic studies in the United States, whereas Germany maintains the long-standing and revered Continental tradition. Accordingly, the supervisors will complement each other and provide the doctoral students with different perspectives.


Second, several joint seminars will be held in Israel and Germany over the course of the year. The program began with a workshop in Israel attended by all the students, including lectures by senior academics in the field of human rights. At the end of the year, a summer school will be held in Berlin. The students will participate in training sessions on various subjects led by outstanding lecturers, including professional guidance in areas that are not always taught at university: how to publish articles; how to cope with the psychological pressure that results from the need to write a vast quantity of material over three years; how to prepare a successful presentation, and so forth. One of the goals of the program is to provide tools for students who choose to move on to areas outside academia, so that their education can provide added value wherever they find themselves.


Third, the program includes an exchange period. Each participant is required to spend between one semester and eight months at the partner institution. This will open up additional sources and enhance the participants’ ability to engage in high-quality comparative research. Although the research projects are not all comparative per se, it is always possible to find points of reference in the host country. For example, one of the projects, focuses on urban rights. In an age when humans increasingly live in cities, the question arises of the rights they enjoy in this context. Do city-dwellers enjoy ecological rights? Is there a right to urban quality of life? The doctoral student examining this area, Nir Barak, will undertake part of his work in Berlin, one of Europe’s leading metropolises, providing the potential to enrich his research. Rawia Aburabia, the doctoral student examining polygamy in Bedouin society will also be able to examine a migrant society such as Germany, including such aspects as the turning of an official blind eye to questionable practices, or family unification in the context of refugeehood and the extended family. Again, this will add a new element to the research project.


Attorney Aburabia confesses that “the life of a doctoral student is a lonely one. You have to sit down and write, and that’s a highly individual activity. This program provides doctoral students with an academic community – and not just a community, but one that brings together researchers under the umbrella heading of human rights, and whose participants have already been involved in academic and practical work in this field. This community provides opportunities to consult with colleagues, exchange ideas, and provide mutual support. Every two weeks we have a workshop where we hear lectures by leading names in the field. This broadens our horizons and provides us with a theoretical foundation for examining what is happening in the field around the world. Another advantage of the program is the community aspect. The community isn’t just a legal one. It’s multidisciplinary, and that broadens the prism still further and enables us to think about our research from other angles, and not only from the standpoint of law. In my own project, I’m trying to use different approaches to examine the phenomenon, including political explanations. Another important feature of the program is the partnership with Berlin, as an example of an international academic community. At the end of the year we will be participating in a very intensive summer school in Berlin, where we will have to explain the progress we have made in our projects and get feedback from our supervisors. I’m very pleased with the program.”


Attorney Yehuda adds: “The Faculty is providing very strong support for the doctoral students, enabling us to free ourselves of other preoccupations and devote our time to our research. The encounter with other students who have similar areas of interest and motivations is very positive. The international dimension of the program is another important and interesting feature. The most interesting aspect, and also the real challenge, is that the participants come from different disciplines. It isn’t always easy to contain all these different perspectives, but it’s certainly fascinating and enriching.”


Professor Broude, in what ways does the multidisciplinary nature of the program contribute to human rights research?

“Although the hard core of human rights research is legal, many of those who are involved in the human rights field come from other disciplines, such as political science, history, social work, education, the philosophy of human rights, and so forth. Accordingly, research on human rights must also be undertaken from within these disciplines. Legal research itself is no longer doctrinal in character. These days, legal research does not merely constitute reading court rulings and analyzing them. Modern legal research is increasingly acquiring an interdisciplinary character. Some legal academics are concerned about this and argue that we are losing the dimension of legal expertise, but in my opinion the opposite is true. You have to be very confident in your own discipline to embark on this kind of research, so first of all you need to be a strong legal academic. All the doctoral students I supervise are undertaking interdisciplinary research. The Faculty also encourages this – many of our students now are combining law studies with degrees from other departments. The same is true in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Interdisciplinary research enriches and illuminates human rights issues from different perspectives. If a candidate submitted a research proposal in the field of biology, chemistry or bioethics relating to human rights, I’d be delighted.”


Attorney Aburabia adds that “the supervisors make an enormous contribution to the research work. My own supervisor, Professor Michael Karayanni, is interested in such aspects as multiculturalism, religion, and state, and has helped me to examine my own research through these prisms. Dr. Binyamin Blum, who is a member of my supervisory committee and is an expert in the field of the history of law and colonialism, has also helped me to examine my work from that perspective. The German member of my supervisory committee is interested in feminism and feminist movements, and she will be able to help me examine personal status laws from that angle. With the help of my supervisors and the supervisory committee, I can examine my research subject as a case study reflecting a broader phenomenon. This helps me to gain insight from much wider processes in such fields as religion and state, the colonial control of minorities, or patriarchal perceptions of law.”


Professor Broude, how will you evaluate whether the program has been a success?

“First of all, in terms of the quality of the research produced by the participants. As a supervisor, your success is defined by the success of the students you supervise. I’d like to see the graduates of the program tackling the more complex aspects of the human rights field. We see the program as a melting pot for human rights scholars in Israel and around the world.


“Second, we aim to enhance the position the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as a leading international institution in the field of human rights. The university already has a reputation in this field, of course, but it’s important to continue to innovate and to produce research at the highest level, including in areas that go beyond conventional paradigms of human rights and include the use of means other than law to respond to human rights problems.


“As the head of the project in Berlin, Professor Hoffmann-Holland of the Faculty of Law at the Free University of Berlin noted, our ultimate goal is to promote innovative and interdisciplinary research in human rights by creating a network of institutions and researchers.”



-Renana Herman -


Name: Barak Fuchs


Age: 26


Year: 3


The facts: Alongside his legal studies, Bark is currently also serving as a full-time father (or “househusband”) while his wife Naama takes her first steps as a legal intern. The couple were recently featured in a news report on the subject. “It isn’t easy to combine degree studies with fatherhood.”



Why law? “When I was about 21 I realized that I wanted to study law. It wasn’t a sudden and dramatic decision. I used to argue with people a lot and I generally won the argument. Slowly I realized that this was the right subject for me. I really like reading and analyzing texts and have a critical mind. Also, if we are honest about it, law is all around us. Those who write the laws or rulings ultimately decide what happens in the country. That’s why I think it would be a good thing if everyone took a degree course in law.”


A second hearing“Over my years at the university I’ve participated in some interesting projects. In the first year I took part in the Beit Midrash for Human Rights. We studied human rights and volunteered in the “social seal of approval” project run by the organization Ma’aglei Tzedek. Caf?s that were found to be providing decent rights for their workers received the “social seal of approval.” The goal of the project was to encourage potential customers to prefer businesses that were attentive to workers’ rights. In the second year I volunteered in Breira (“Alternative”). I spent six months in the family affairs court and six months in the administrative affairs court. This work is an example of changing the world a day at a time. Ostensibly all we did was help people to fill in forms, which sounds very easy and technical. But we helped lots of people who weren’t fluent in Hebrew or experienced expressing themselves in writing. For example, I helped a battered woman who was in a very emotional state and couldn’t start to fill in a six-page form. In those kind of situations you really feel that what you’re doing is meaningful. If I hadn’t been there, she wouldn’t have completed the form and her husband would have continued to beat her. It’s as simple as that. This year I am working in the legal clinic on women’s rights in labor law. I am concentrating on the issue of the conditions of employment of Haredi women.



Name: Esterika vidal


Age: 25


Year: 4


The facts: Estherika is combining her law degree with a degree in media studies. This coming September she will officially complete her studies and begin an internship at Yigal Arnon law firm in Jerusalem. She serves as the law students’ representative on the general student union, guides high school groups visiting the Supreme Court, and works in a hostel for youth at risk in Mevasseret.




Why law? “When I was young I dreamt of studying law. If I made a list of things to do before I was 30, it was there – to be a lawyer. People around me always said that I was suited to law. As I neared the end of high school, I became less enthusiastic about it for some reason. I went to see a counselor and he told me that I simply had to study law. So I couldn’t refuse. In the future I imagine that I will work in the media field. Law will be a ‘bonus.’”


A second hearing“I get great satisfaction from working as a guide for high school students who visit the Supreme Court as part of their civics studies, and see it as much more than a mere job. There are various things that I only found out after beginning my university studies, and I’m glad that these students hear about it while they are still in high school. For example, what the Supreme Court does, and the fact that every person can submit a petition. We tell them about famous rulings such as Alice Miller (the first woman to be admitted for pilot training in the Israel Air Force) and other cases that are relevant to their own lives. I also worked in the clinic for women’s rights at work. I led a workshop for women in the Pat neighborhood of Jerusalem with the goal of raising their awareness of the rights they are entitled to. The workshop gave the women an opportunity to share their experiences in the workplace, to present themselves, and to discuss problems they had encountered, with the goal of identifying solutions to difficult situations.




Name: Ariel Galili


Age: 29


Year: 3


The facts: Ariel, who originally comes from Holon, is a diehard activist. Professor Alon Harel is responsible for giving him his nickname of “Galili the Scholar.” Ariel explains: “Before studying law, I completed a BA in literature with an emphasis on creative writing. I have been involved in social action for many years. I spent a year volunteering with the youth movement Hanoar Ha’oved Vehalomed: I lived in the movement commune and ran subsidized summer camps for children from poor families. During my previous degree I coordinated leadership development programs for students. We talked to them about the welfare state, conformism, oppression of all kinds, and feminism. Immediately after I completed my degree in Hebrew literature, I began to study law.



Why law? “What pushed me to study law was my desire to represent women who are caught in violent relationships and are longing for some kind of legal help, such as a restraining order, protection order, or any other legal tool that will enable them to live in financial security and physical safety. During my studies I participated in the social capital market clinic, which has raised my awareness of a field that’s relatively new in Israel: the use of the capitalist market to meet social needs. Or to put it another way – combining social yield with economic yield. This field involves commercial companies that create profit, which in turn is used to create all kinds of social solutions. I have just finished Dr. Yifat Bitton’s course on law and gender, which exposed me to different ways of using damages law to combat violence against women. For me, a law degree is a tool. Even if protests and demonstrations achieve change, this will be very slow. We need the legal tool in order to change things.”


An additional hearing“Apart from my degree, I am also involved in writing poetry. I recently published my work in a left-wing journal called Mitan, which is published in Jaffa and advocates Jewish-Arab coexistence in the city. It’s very difficult for a poet to turn into a law student. In some ways I feel that it’s all alien to me. But this is a very important part of my personality. I hope to publish my first book of poems over the next couple of years.”

The International Human Rights Clinic

The International Human Rights Clinic


Every student at the Faculty knows that the legal clinics offer one of the most interesting experiences the Faculty has to offer. In this issue, we focus on the International Human Rights Clinic.


- Sapir Dayan -


Every year a large number of students apply to join one of the eight legal clinics active at the Faculty. Many students write lengthy and impassioned explanations on the application forms and endure a nail-biting wait, only to receive the disappointing news that there are no places left. The legal clinics are not only popular because they offer a welcome change from classes, textbooks, and reading lists. The Faculty’s clinics, directed by Dr. Einat Albin, provide a real opportunity for students to use their legal knowledge to engage in meaningful social action. The students work with diverse disadvantaged populations, most of whom have little chance of meeting a regular attorney. They work with people with disabilities, migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers, youth at risk, people involved in criminal proceedings, Haredi women, new immigrants, and others.



In this issue we focus on the International Human Rights Clinic – one of the eight clinics in the Clinical Legal Education Center - which provides legal assistance for individuals and organizations in the field of human rights. In particular, the clinic seeks to encourage the recognition and protection of the right to equality and dignity; social, economic, and cultural rights; and human rights during a state of emergency. Attorney Neta Patrick and Professor Tomer Broude directed the clinic last year, while this year Attorney Bana Shoughry-Badarne is working alongside Professor Broude. The clinic works with civil society organizations to promote projects relating to human rights protected under international law and to encourage the inculcation of international human rights law within Israeli law.


Attorney Bana Shoughry-Badarne 
(photo: Talia Shein)


The following is just a small sample of the clinic’s work over the past year. The students are currently working to prepare a Supreme Court petition concerning the accessibility of the Executor’s Office to Arabic speakers. A final letter prior to instigating proceedings is due to be sent by the end of the month. In a related field, the clinic is representing residents of the Isawiyya neighborhood in their efforts to persuade the municipality to address the chronic shortage of classrooms in the neighborhood. Regarding the rights of minor asylum seekers, the clinic is working to prepare a legal opinion concerning the right to health of minors ahead of a seminar on the subject due to be held at the end of the 2014/15 academic year. The clinic also submitted an application for status for a minor who was born in Israel to a tourist who abandoned him due to a severe disability. The minor has received temporary resident status and the clinic is continuing to work to secure permanent status. In another case regarding status, the clinic submitted an appeal on behalf of three people from East Jerusalem - a father and two of his four children – which may find themselves expelled from the city, essentially due to circumstances related to their poverty.


Sixteen students work in the clinic in various projects according to their fields of interest. The students undertake in-depth legal research and prepare legal opinions, proposed laws, research reports, correspondence with the authorities, administrative appeals, and Supreme Court petitions. The students are involved in every aspect of the legal proceedings. They meet with clients, organizations, and senior legal figures from the public service, and they attend court hearings. This year, under the guidance of Attorney Bana Shoughry-Badarne, the clinic is running some interesting and intriguing projects. Particular emphasis is placed on promoting the right to equality by opposing discriminatory threshold requirements for jobs; advancing the right to language and education in East Jerusalem; strengthening the obligation to investigate complaints of torture; supporting the right to rehabilitation of asylum seekers who were the victims of torture outside Israel; promoting the right to health of minor asylum seekers; advancing the rights of stateless persons born in Israel; and enhancing the protection of human rights in times of emergency.


Another project run by the clinic this year is the preparation of a proposed law to improve the investigation of complaints raising suspicion of torture. The clinic is working with the Aid Organization for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Israel (ASSAF) to prepare a shadow report for submission to the Committee against Torture. The report will focus mainly on the obligation to rehabilitate victims of torture who entered Israel through Sinai. Another proposed law the students are preparing seeks to challenge threshold conditions for jobs that discriminate against some candidates (particularly Mizrachim and women). The clinic also submitted a request for information according to the Freedom of Information Act on the existing procedures for the closure of traffic arteries in a state of emergency, and whether such procedures take into account the human rights of those affected by such blockages (including freedom of movement and the right to education, health, and work).


Last year, one of the clinic’s areas of work was the drafting of proposed laws concerning an emerging field in international human rights law known as “human rights defenders” – a group for whom the United Nations adopted a declaration in 1998 calling for their protection. Attorney Neta Patrick explains that in recent years human rights activists around the world and in Israel have increasingly faced harassment in an attempt to silence public protests sparked by their work. An example of such harassment is a libel suit in the sum of millions of shekels submitted by a recycling corporation against an environmental activist in an attempt to halt his campaign. The corporation’s harassment is directed at the activist as an individual, and accordingly is liable to be particularly effective, leading him to abandon his struggle and deterring others from joining.



Seminar for civil society organizations



Together with the parliamentary assistant to MK Zehava Galon, the students at the clinic researched the issue and considered when and how human rights defenders would require special protection under Israeli law. One instance when the principles in the international declaration could be used was when a political activist is subjected to sexual harassment by a police officer at a demonstration. The Knesset Committee on the Status of Women discussed this issue, which it considered to be a familiar phenomenon. The students suggested that the Prohibition of Sexual Harassment Law should be amended to include a specific clause concerning sexual harassment against human rights activists, since this constitutes a distinct category of sexual harassment. If adopted, the amendment would reflect recognition that additional tools are need to combat harassment intended to silence protest and to deter activists from acting in the public interest.


Both last year and this year, the clinic has worked on a unique project that is the first of its kind in Israel, in cooperation with the Minerva Center for Human Rights. The students Bassam Hazan, Lena Mahula, and Tal Darnitzky compiled the first ever Hebrew-language guide to writing “shadow reports.” The guide seeks to enhance access to reporting proceedings for human rights organizations. A shadow report is a report submitted by civil society organizations to the United Nations human rights committees, serving as a principal source of information for these committees regarding the manner of implementation of the various international conventions in the relevant country. The preparation of these reports requires a familiarity with the reporting mechanism, extensive knowledge of the alleged violation, the allocation of resources, and attention to wording and precision. Even large and well-established human rights organizations may encounter difficulties and obstacles that deter them from participating in the reporting process. The students identified this weakness and prepared the guide in response. They also held a special seminar for civil society organizations on the subject of working with the UN human rights committees.




Tour of East Jerusalem as part of the clinic’s work this year to promote a municipal outline plan in East Jerusalem



One of the students described her work in the clinic as “the most important experience I’ve had so far during my studies. The work is interesting and you have a sense of mission. But apart from that, I have also been exposed to reality. Frontal lectures cannot always describe the reality on the ground. The clinic gave me a chance to experience the work of an attorney, including fascinating aspects as well as routine chores. Now I feel that I know what I’m heading for and what I want to do, and this has also helped me focus my academic studies.” The clinics’ admirable work is a classic win-win scenario. The students learn new things and enjoy an opportunity to engage in meaningful work; the public benefit from their high-quality pro bono work, under the professional supervision of senior attorneys; and the students end it all after completing another six credit points toward their degree.