Jan 15, 2020

Adalah defends freedom of expression online

Photo: powtac/Flickr Creative Commons
Photo: powtac/Flickr Creative Commons

Dear Friends,

Happy new year 2020 from Adalah!  

2019 will be remembered as a year of popular global protest – from Hong Kong, to India, to France, to Iran, to Lebanon and more. Social media is a key organizing tool for protesters, and governments seeking to prevent protests and to quell dissent use a range of tactics, including censoring users’ social media content.

Over the past two years, Adalah filed a series of legal complaints to the Israeli authorities charging that the Cyber Unit, operating in the State Attorney's Office since 2015, is unlawfully asking social media platforms to censor user content. Israel’s state attorney finally responded this past November 2019, claiming that these requests "do not constitute an exercise of governmental authority.” In other words, they claim, the Cyber Unit only issues “voluntary” requests, while the decisions and actual removal of content are ultimately made by the social media providers themselves.

Adalah and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court in late November 2019 seeking an order that the Cyber Unit halt its practices. Adalah Attorneys Fady Khoury and Rabea Eghbariah argued that the unit is violating the constitutional rights to freedom of expression and due process, and that it lacks legal authority. Further, there is reason to suspect that the victims of these violations are, first and foremost, Palestinians. 

According to a 2018 report by Israel’s state attorney, the number of Cyber Unit requests to censor content leaped from 2,241 in 2016, to 12,351 in 2017, to 14,283 in 2018 – an increase of over 600%. Further, social media providers accepted the overwhelming majority of requests to remove user content: about 90% of the targeted content was completely or partially removed.

There are legal procedures or no transparency in the process, and no framework for users to defend themselves against allegations that their posts warranted removal.

Our case in the Israeli Supreme Court remains pending.  

We need your continued support for our work protecting protest and defending dissent – on the street and on the web. You are key to this struggle.

“While 2019 already qualifies for a place in the annals of street protest,” Gideon Rachman, the Financial Times’s chief foreign affairs columnist wrote as 2019 drew to a close, “it is possible that the really world-shaking year may turn out to be 2020.”

Make a contribution to Adalah today!

Thank you!

Photo: Michael Schreifels/Flickr Creative Commons
Photo: Michael Schreifels/Flickr Creative Commons
Nov 4, 2019

60 Palestinian law students gain new skills to defend their community

All-camp photo!
All-camp photo!

Dear friends,

Thanks to your support, Adalah held its 14th annual Law Students Conference on 12-14 September 2019 in Beit Sahour, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. What an inspiring three-day experience it was for the students, the speakers, and all of the Adalah family!

The camp – held in Arabic – brings together Palestinian students from Israeli and Palestinian universities. It is very rare for Palestinian students from Israel and the West Bank to convene in a legal, academic context.

The Adalah camp facilitates this connection and functions as a platform that allows the sharing of ideas, subjects, and dialogue that are usually absent from their regular law school curricula. It also encourages the students to learn more about public interest or cause lawyering for human rights by introducing the students to many different practitioners and organizations engaged in this struggle.

CLICK HERE to see all the photos from the camp!

Sixty students from Palestinian and Israeli universities participated in this year's camp, the theme of which was "State of Emergency". Israel has been operating under a self-declared state of emergency since 1948.

A series of panels and workshops highlighted different aspects of this state of emergency and the ways in which this situation works to violate the human rights of Palestinians, both citizens of Israel and people living under Occupation.

In addition, a tour of the divided West Bank city of Al Khalil (Hebron) and a screening of The Advocate also helped the students to better grasp the theme and its ongoing repercussions for their lives and the lives of their potential clients.

This year's invited speakers provided both theoretical academic, practitioner, and personal story-telling perspectives to give students a holistic lens through which to view the state of emergency in law and practice.

CLICK HERE to see the full program.

Below are examples of the feedback from the student participants:

Marah, Nazareth | 1st year law student, Haifa University:

“The concepts discussed in the panels and workshops were very rich and stimulating. The camp encouraged us as students to approach our course of study and curricula in a more critical eye and to be more engaged.”

Murad, Nablus | 2018 graduate, An-Najah National University:

“Palestinians lack platforms that bring us together. Adalah was able to give us this platform. It provided us with a safe space where our voices can be heard. Adalah’s camp isn’t just a project, it’s a family.”

Lama, Maghar | 1st year law student, Tel Aviv University:

"The visit to Hebron was an eye opener for me. Even though I thought I was familiar with the situation there on paper, it was a completely different experience to actually be there and visit the city. Meeting students from the West Bank was the highlight of the camp for me. We learned so much from each other!"

Duaa, Haifa, | 3rd year law student, Tel Aviv University:

"I felt very empowered and inspired to be in an inclusive Palestinian environment where all the participants are politically aware and engaged in studying the Palestinian cause."

Adalah’s annual camp is made possible by your support. In fact, a $100 donation would help to cover a student’s fee to attend next year’s camp and tour. Will you make this generous contribution or more today?

Students in discussion with lecturers
Students in discussion with lecturers
Law students sporting our camp t-shirts!
Law students sporting our camp t-shirts!
Students participating (& enjoying!) the workshops
Students participating (& enjoying!) the workshops
Students in discussion with lecturers
Students in discussion with lecturers
Group photo while touring Hebron in the West Bank
Group photo while touring Hebron in the West Bank
Oct 16, 2019

New school year means new fights to protect Bedouin kids' education

Still from video on school bus stops in the Naqab
Still from video on school bus stops in the Naqab

Dear friends,

Thanks to your support during this past year, we have fought for and achieved the opening of high school for Bedouin students and then saved this nascent school from being closed!

Last year, in November 2018, Adalah sent a letter to the Israeli authorities demanding that they open a high school in Al-Zarnouq, an unrecognized Bedouin village, located in the Naqab (Negev) desert.

The village of around 5,000 residents has 450 high school-age pupils who have to travel long distances to and from schools in other villages. As a result, many students drop out and never complete more than the 8th grade. After long correspondence, the Education Ministry and the local Regional Council was set to open the school in September for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

However, in August 2019, Regavim – a right-wing, pro-settler Israeli organization – filed a petition to the Be’er Sheva District Court to prevent the opening of the urgently needed high school. Regavim argued that the high school had not acquired all the necessary permits and paperwork to open its facility, and claimed that regardless of these documents, the school itself is still illegal because it is located in an unrecognized village.

Regavim regularly submits petitions before Israeli courts against Bedouins in the Naqab and in the West Bank. The organization claims that “the Jewish People are being robbed of the Land of Israel” by any development projects undertaken by/for these communities.

In a hearing on 29 August 2019, Adalah argued before the court that Regavim’s petition must be rejected. Adalah emphasized that the school had already been put in place and that preparations were under way to begin the new year in the fall of 2019. Adalah further argued that Regavim's petition was pursuing bad motives and intentions under the law.

The court accepted Adalah’s arguments. Adalah later participated in a meeting with the local planning committee to secure the remaining necessary permits. And the school was finally opened at the end of September 2019!

An achievement like this – the opening of the high school and fighting the right-wing to prevent its closure - is made possible by your ongoing support of our work.

Further, for the new school year, a journalist and cameraman for YNet – a leading Hebrew newspaper in Israel – accompanied Adalah to several villages in the Naqab and interviewed our staff and local residents about the government’s neglect of kindergartens for Bedouin children, producing a widely watched report (Hebrew).

Adalah also released a one-minute video to raise awareness of Israel’s refusal to provide basis infrastructure for transportation for Bedouin school kids.

About 12,000 Bedouin children continue to face danger every day as there are no bus stops to keep them safe from the busy highways where they need to be picked up.

Adalah took the Israeli authorities to court to construct these bus stops and won – but despite the state’s commitment, one year later, the bus stops have yet to be built.

Your support is crucial for us to take all actions necessary to ensure the state fulfils its obligations. Please donate to Adalah today.

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