Accusing Israel of “Racism” & “Apartheid”
- Anti-Israel NGO
- Seeks to delegitimize Israel through legal arguments
- Impugns Israel’s “targeted killings” and “property and home demolitions in the Occupied Territories,” but does not point out that these activities are targeted entirely against terrorist threats
Founded in November 1996, Adalah—whose name means “Justice” in Arabic—is an “independent human rights organization and legal center” that works to “promote and defend the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel … as well as Palestinians living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).” To achieve these goals, Adalah:
- brings impact litigation and other legal interventions before Israeli courts and state authorities;
- provides legal consultation to individuals, NGOs, and institutions;
- appeals to international institutions and fora;
- organizes legal seminars and conferences;
- publishes reports and analyses of critical legal issues;
- conducts extensive media outreach in Arabic, Hebrew and English, locally and internationally; and
- trains legal apprentices and new lawyers in human rights litigation and advocacy.
Adalah routinely accuses Israel of perpetrating “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” and the “illegal occupation” of Palestinian lands. The organization also maintains an online database of laws that are purportedly “discriminatory” against Arabs in Israel and the OPT. By contrast, Adalah rarely, if ever, broaches the subject of Palestinian terrorism.
Having held Special Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council since 2005, Adalah currently administers 5 major legal-advocacy programs:
1) The Civil and Political Rights program is founded on the premise that Israel “systemically” deprives its Arab citizens of their right to exercise “freedom of expression” and to engage in “peaceful protest.”
2) The Criminal Justice program asserts that Israel’s “brutal and inhumane treatment” of Arab prisoners and detainees “consistently violates their rights to a fair trial, to legal counsel, and to human dignity throughout the detention process.”
3) The Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights program combats “Israel’s state discrimination against Arab citizens,” which allegedly appears in such forms as substandard funding for Arab schools, inadequate social-service provision in Arab communities, and the denial of job opportunities for Arab workers.
4) The Land and Planning Rights program uses litigation to protect “the Arab minority in Israel” from a “discriminatory land distribution policy” that “marginalize[s]” them via measures like “forced evictions,” “home demolitions,” and the denial of “mortgages and housing assistance.”
5) The Occupied Palestinian Territory program “closely monitors rights abuses in the OPT, both during and outside of military offensives, and submits impact litigation cases to expose and challenge these practices.”
In 2001, Adalah’s founder and general director Hassan Jabareen played an active role in drafting many of the accusations of “apartheid” and “institutional racism” that were levied against Israel at that year’s UN World Conference Against Racism—an event that served as a foundation for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Prior to joining Adalah, Jabareen had worked as a lawyer with the Association of Civil Rights-Israel, under whose auspices he provided legal representation for the Palestinian politician/writer Azmi Bishara, who would later be indicted for spying on Hezbollah‘s behalf.
Following Israel’s April 2002 Operation Defensive Shield campaign—a military response to a spate of deadly Palestinian terrorist attacks in the West Bank—Adalah filed a petition falsely alleging that the Israeli army “was collecting dead bodies on the outskirts of the Jenin refugee camp, apparently with the intention of burying them in mass, anonymous or numbered graves.”
In 2003, following yet another series of terror attacks involving Palestinians who had gained Israeli citizenship by marrying Israeli Arabs, the Knesset passed a law that restricted the granting of automatic citizenship in such cases. Adalah, in response, submitted a petition against this “racist” statute to the Israeli Supreme Court, alleging that it “violates the constitutionally protected rights of equality, liberty and privacy.” Though the Court in 2006 dismissed Adalah’s challenge, a year layer the organization pled its case again to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
At a 2005 conference in Germany, Adalah attorney Marwan Dalal held discussions with the Stop the Wall Campaign, which depicts Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank as an emblem of racist apartheid. In May of that year, Adalah, in conjunction with other organizations such as the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, sent a letter to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan demanding “a binding resolution by the Security Council to stop the continued construction of the Separation Wall [and] to take down the parts that have been built on Palestinian land.”
In July 2006 Adalah co-signed a letter to the United Nations condemning “Israel’s continued construction of the Wall in contravention of international law.”
On April 15, 2007, Adalah, Al-Haq, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights together petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to order a state investigation of Israeli “war crimes” perpetrated in the Gaza Strip.
Also in 2007, Adalah drafted a new “Democratic Constitution” calling for Israel to permanently relinquish its Jewish character and embrace, instead, the establishment of a “single state” in “historic Palestine” where Jews and Palestinians would live side-by-side in a “democratic, bilingual and multicultural” society; where Hebrew and Arabic would “enjoy equal status in all of the functions and activities of the legislative and executive branches”; and where Jewish immigration into the region would be permitted only for “humanitarian reasons.” In its December 2007 newsletter, Adalah emphasized that this plan was meant “in large part to ensure that the Palestinian refugees can fulfill their right of return.”
In May 2008, Adalah commemorated the 60th anniversary of Israel’s independence with an event recalling “Al Nakba”—an Arabic term meaning “The Catastrophe,” which is how Adalah and likeminded groups refer to Israel’s creation in 1948.
In May 2009, Adalah and Al-Haq officials collaborated to write and edit large portions of a pseudo-academic study smearing Israel as “a colonial enterprise” whose “inhumane” system of “apartheid” features “systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another.”
On May 30, 2013, Adalah and the Negev Coexistence Forum together published a factually inaccurate position paper (funded by the European Union) accusing Israel of “forcible displacement,” “dispossession,” and attempting to implement “the complete and final severance of the Bedouin’s historical ties to their land.”
On April 13, 2014, Adalah’s web editor Majd Kayyal was arrested while returning from a conference marking the 40th anniversary of Beirut’s pro-Syrian newspaper As-Safir, known for its close ties to Hezbollah. At the time, Kayyal was also the editor of an online blog whose first post featured a video of a Palestinian terror training camp. Three years earlier, Kayyal had participated in a flotilla aiming to disrupt Israel’s blockade of Hamas-dominated Gaza.
Because Adalah is based in the Middle East, international human rights NGOs place particular value on its reports, which are regularly picked up by groups like Amnesty International, Christian Aid, and Human Rights Watch. Adalah also maintains formal alliances with the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, the Habitat International Coalition, the International Commission of Jurists, and the International Federation for Human Rights.
Israeli Arab politicians commonly use Adalah’s material to help them craft ideological arguments in the parlance of human rights issues.
Adalah has received funding from such entities as Christian Aid, the European Union, the Ford Foundation, the New Israel Fund, the Open Society Institute, Oxfam-Novib (The Netherlands), and a number of other organizations and goverments around the world.
For additional information on Adalah, click here.
Portions of this profile are adapted, with permission, from NGO Monitor.
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