- Board chairman of Human Rights First
- Board member of Human Rights Watch
- Legal adviser to George Soros' Open Society Institute
William Zabel is chairman of the Human Rights First (HRF) board of directors. HRF describes itself as a group that "works in the United States and abroad to create a secure and humane world by advancing justice, human dignity and respect for the rule of law." In practice, it is an open borders group that opposes all government efforts to control illegal immigration and strengthen American national security.
A onetime civil rights activist, Zabel also serves on the boards of leftwing organizations like Human Rights Watch and Doctors of the World (the U.S. division of Medecins du Monde), and as legal adviser to the Open Society Institute of George Soros (as well as the rest of the Soros network of foundations). In addition, Zabel is a former board member of the Winston Foundation for World Peace, which has given considerable funding to such radical groups as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Zabel received his B.A. degree from at Princeton University and his law degree from Harvard Law School. According to a story published in the Paw, Princeton's Alumni Weekly, he began his activist career by writing letters protesting the acquittal of the killers of Emmett Till (a black teenager murdered by whites in 1955); upon graduation from Harvard, Zabel headed south to join the Lawyers Constitutional Defense Committee, an organization that provided legal defense for civil rights workers in the Freedom Summer of 1965. He filed the amicus curiae brief for the American Civil Liberties Union in the Loving v. Virginia case that struck down laws prohibiting racially mixed marriage in 1967.
In 1986, Zabel joined the board of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, which is now called Human Rights First. He went to Chile that same year to investigate trials held on those who had "disappeared" during the reign of Augusto Pinochet. Records indicate that most of the disappeared were members of Chile's Communist Party, which was working for the overthrow of Chile's government during Pinochet's reign.
Zabel supports the new International Criminal Court, a group that the U.S. and President Bush have rejected on the grounds that American diplomats, generals, politicians, and even soldiers may be hauled into the court for alleged "war-crimes" concocted by Third World dictators, and on the grounds that better than half the court is made up of judges from criminal states and dictatorships with horrendous human rights records.
Zabel distinguishes himself from many of his fellow radical environmentalists in one notable respect: he seems not to support the redistribution of wealth. He is a prominent trust and estate attorney in Manhattan, founder of the firm Schulte Roth & Zabel, and author of a how-to manual for avoiding estate taxes and keeping wealth in the family, The Rich Die Richer and You Can Too.