[TAU Law] Neta Ziv to represent in Montreal anti-Israel radical groups that escalate tensions & attack security forces
Editor's note: The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity (SJS) movement has been the latest model in delegitimizing Israel, specifically its legal system. As the organizers admit, the SJS struggle transcends the legal issue at hand - an eviction order following a prolonged legal dispute and a ruling by the Supreme Court - to mobilize domestic and international opinion against the "settlers regime" and its influence. Activists tend to present to claim that the Sheikh Jarrah situation amount to ethnic cleansing by the Israeli "apartheid state."
ASSEMBLÉE MONDIALE CIVICUS 2011
Jour 3 - lundi 12 septembre 2011Montreal
The success of a new joint Israeli/Palestinian grassroots activism model (TBC)
Format : "Triangle" (Grassroots mobilization organization, community based organization, and fiduciary organization) model
Description : The key objective of this session will be to briefly present the interconnection of the 3 organizations and to exchange with the audience the learn lessons from the field and the best practices in grassroots activism from the Israel/Palestine case.
Started as a spontaneous movement of grassroots activists in September 2009, the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity (SJS) movement succeeded of hoisting a local issue to the spotlights of the international community decision-makers’ attention. INGOs and multilateral agencies made of Sheikh Jarrah a major concern in their respective agendas, and Sheikh Jarrah became to symbolize the entire struggle for Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem (EJ). SJS build trust and collaboration with Palestinians from other localities in Israel, and from other East Jerusalem threatened neighborhoods, such as Silwan, which hosts what is considered the spearhead of ideological Jewish settlement within EJ. With a smart use of the traditional media outlets and the help of social media networks, SJS mobilization succeeded in becoming the most vibrant and arguably the most influential group in the Israeli peace movement. Trying to suppress the protests, Israeli authorities opted for harsh repression: they arrested more than 160 activists and many of them face indictments; Human Rights Defender Funds (HRDF) was an answer to sustain the movements by answering their more pressing need: provision of free of charge legal aid. That allows the sustainability of the movements in the long term; as such, HRDF challenges the archaic funding structures while it ensures an efficient and flexible capacity for the non-violent grassroots activists’ movements to conduct their activities and achieve local and global policy-change. (TBC)
Hillel Ben Sasson, Spokesperson, Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity, Israel (TBC)
Helene Berube, External Affair Coordinator, Silwan Wadi Hilweh Information Center, Israel (TBC)
Neta Ziv TBC, Human Rights Defenders Fund, Israel (TBC)
Professor Neta Ziv
Trubowicz - Law building , room 40
Tel: (972)-3-6405237 , (972)-3-6408361 , Fax: (972)-3-6407422
Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel
Neta Ziv is the director of The Cegla Clinical Law Programs at the law school. She is the academic supervisor of the Human Rights Clinic and teaches courses on Legal Ethics and the Legal Profession, Law and Social Change and Rights of People with Disabilities. Dr. Ziv received her LL.B. from the Hebrew University Law Faculty in 1983, and her LL.M. from The American University in Washington, DC in 1986. Dr. Ziv practiced as a public interest lawyer for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel between 1986-1996, and served as a leading attorney in some of Israel?³’s major human rights cases litigated before the Israeli Supreme Court. She continued her studies at Stanford Law School and received her J.S.D. in 2001. Dr. Ziv was among the founding members of the Israel Women’s Network Legal Center, the chair of Bizchut - The Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities, and currently serves as a board member of "Itach - Women Lawyers for Social Justice". Dr. Ziv is a board member and Vice President of The New Israel Fund. Research Interests:
Legal Ethics, Professional Responsibility, Law & Social Change, Disability Law and Studies, Human Rights.
AN URGENT NEED
How many times have you heard the refrain “where is the Palestinian Gandhi?” The answer today is that he is probably in an Israeli jail. A burgeoning unarmed protest movement in the West Bank is being repressed by the Israeli authorities. Incarceration is a primary tool in this effort. Every week, dozens of activists are arrested and jailed, many of them on trumped-up charges and without minimal due process.
In East Jerusalem, those protesting the impact of intensive settlement activity – funded largely by Jewish-Americans such as Irvine Moskowitz — are facing a similar crackdown. Since August 2009, the police have made over 160 arrests of Israelis non-violently protesting evictions in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, leading to over 60 indictments. In recent months, community leaders in Silwan have been repeatedly arrested and even deported.
The situation in the Negev has also escalated. Bedouin activists from 40 unrecognized villages face harassment, violence and incarceration. The community of Al Araqib is a focal point of repression. Since the summer of 2010, it has been repeatedly (over 20 times) bulldozed by the Jewish National Fund to make way for a new forest funded by US Christian Zionists. Attempts by residents to non-violently protest the destruction have been met by over 50 arrests, many resulting in indictments.
Beginning with the 2009 war in Gaza, even the freedom to protest government policy in Israeli urban centers, far removed, from the actual flashpoints has been severely curtailed.Activist Jonathan Pollack has just completed a three month prison sentence for participation in a bike ride against the war. Police investigations have been launched against a group of women led by Israeli writer Ilana Hammerman who take Palestinian women and children to brief respites on the Tel-Aviv beach.
As repression in the West Bank intensifies and substantial Israeli democracy deteriorates, the survival of democratic protest movements on both sides of the ’67 border is an imperative. Whatever the final outcome, both the Israeli and Palestinian communities are here to stay. Non-violent protest and inter-community humanitarian cooperation are critical to ensuring positive future relations.
If the movements are to survive and remain non-violent, their leaders, and the activists defending them, must remain free. They need to know that if they are arrested, they will receive the very best legal aid available. This is their single most pressing need.
A focused response
Responding to mounting calls for aid from the field, a varied group of activists, attorneys and academics began meeting regularly beginning in March 2010. The group began by assessing existing legal aid mechanisms. It found that human rights defenders operating in the West Bank and East Jerusalem had no clinics to turn to and that the financial aid required for support from private attorneys was virtually non-existent. A number of lawyers were trying to fill the gap by providing services pro-bono, or on a pay-as-you-can basis, but they were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of work. Some were on the verge of bankruptcy.
In Israel proper, the situation was only slightly better. Some clinics did exist, but their mandates were highly specialized. As in the Palestinian Territories, Israeli human rights groups were focused mainly on policy-oriented advocacy and their ability to provide individual support was limited to specific cases in line with that agenda. A few had plans to develop clinical mechanisms, but these were still embryonic.
It quickly became clear that effective support for democratic activists at this critical juncture required a new approach. Funding existed, from a variety of sources concerned for the democratic future of Israel and Palestine and committed to non-violence. What could be done to help donors support those on the front-line, when they needed it most?
The Human Rights Defenders Fund was designed specifically to perform this function. Its structure and operational framework aim to provide donors with the confidence that their funds are disbursed legally and efficiently, in support of non-violent human rights defenders only. At the same time, it has the flexibility to operate in a highly fluid environment. From the mission statement:
The Human Rights Defenders Fund (HRDF) will protect human rights defenders advancing democracy, liberty and equality, in Israel and the territories it controls, through provision of legal and other aid.
The structure of the HRDF and its operational methodology are designed to ensure:
(a) fiduciary and legal responsibility through a system of checks and balances, frequent performance reviews, full transparency and the appointment of experienced officers;
(b) fiscal efficiency (80% to 90% of funds raised in 2011 will be disbursed as aid) through reduction of administrative costs to the bare minimum;
(c) disbursement of aid to those who need it most, through appointment of an advisory board comprised of leading experts, from a variety of professional disciplines, equipped with a wide range of activist experience and connections;
(d) rapid and flexible response to the legal needs of human rights defenders, through a highly empowered, yet carefully monitored, executive body.
A-NABI SALIH, FEBRUARY 2011
The unarmed protest movement in the tiny village of a-Nabi Salih against the settler expropriation of ancestral land and the community’s only spring has long been a target for suppression by the IDF. After realizing that lethal violence did not deter the community, focus shifted to incarceration of its leadership. Some 13 percent of Nabi Salih’s residents — 63 people — have been arrested and jailed since the end of 2009.
Previous experience in the village of Bilin indicated that even the military court system was not quick to convict protest leaders on trumped up charges, unless “incontrovertible” evidence was presented. That evidence is absent, primarily because community leaders are dedicated to non-violence. Therefore, a new method has been found to manufacture it. Children who have been filmed throwing stones (not in the protest) are arrested, subjected to interrogation using extreme and illegal methods, and forced to say that their elders incited the action. To facilitate this method, the IDF has begun cataloging: In night raids on village homes, children are pulled from their beds and photographed.
On January 26 2011, 14-year-old Islam Tamimi was arrested on the charge of stone throwing. His interrogators denied a lawyer access and proceeded with an all-night interrogation. Two leaders of the village’s Popular Committee have since been arrested based on the confession extracted.
Adv. Gaby Lasky, one of the most active Israeli human rights defenders in the West Bank, managed to obtain video of six hours of the interrogation. It provides prima facie evidence of extreme human rights violations. Without a transcript, however, the chances of her motion to exclude the confession are low. Lasky, already burdened by immense debt resulting from her pro bon work, could not afford the NIS 11,000 required. She approached the HRDF for aid and the request was approved.
AL ARAQIB, FEBRUARY 2011
On February 10 2011, residents of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al Araqib gathered with Israeli activists to protest its destruction, for the 15th time, by Jewish National Fund bulldozers. Police violently dispersed the peaceful demonstration, making arresting three activists. The Beersheeba Magistrate accepted the prosecution’s demand that the detainees be released only on the condition that they be denied access to to the village for two weeks — denying them any ability to assist the community.
Attorneys Shahdeh Ibn Bari and Omer Shatz approached HRDF aid in launching an appeal in the District Court. The request was approved and the appeal successful. Judge Tali Haimovitch ruled that the charge of “illegal gathering” (i.e. protesting without a permit) was not cause to limit freedom of movement and expression.
SHEIKH JARRAH, JERUSALEM, MARCH 2011
On Friday, March 4 2011, activist Sara Benninga, just back from the US where she received J Street’s Giving Voice to our Values award, returned to lead another of the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement’s non-violent protests against evictions of Palestinian families. For the first time, they were met by a special Border Guard unit donning ski-masks, who violently dispersed the protest arresting two Israeli protesters and a Palestinian resident.
The detainees spent over 24 hours in cells before being brought before a judge. Veteran human rights lawyer Andrei Rosenthal (HRDF funded) conducted effective cross-examination of the police witnesses and presented photographic evidence, which prompted the Judge Fiona Gertel to remark “That looks just like Iran.” In her ruling, she lambasted the police for escalating the situation through violence and refused to impose the draconic release conditions the prosecutor demanded.
Police were forced to explore other methods: the following Monday, Benninga and another organizer who spoke at J Street, Assaf Sharon, were among a group interrogated for hours on suspicion of “incitement and subversion.” On Friday, March 25 2011, Sharon was arrested while filming in Silwan. After being handcuffed, he was moved to a jeep, where he was severely beaten and pepper-sprayed