PO Box 510
An Arab-run NGO based in Israel, Adalah (whose name means "Justice" in Arabic) defines itself as an "independent human rights organization" and a "non-partisan legal center that exists to protect human rights in general, and the rights of the Arab minority (in Israel) in particular."
Heavily supported by the New Israel Fund, Adalah consistently charges Israel with "war crimes," "illegal occupation" of Palestinian lands, and "crimes against humanity." By contrast, the organization barely touches on the issue of Palestinian terrorism. In an August 2003 report, for example, Adalah called for Israel to "stop the practices of 'targeted killings,'" and to discontinue its "property and home demolitions in the Occupied Territories." In no instance did Adalah point out that these activities were aimed against terrorist threats.
Because Adalah is located in the Middle East, international human rights NGOs place particular value on its reports, which are regularly picked up by Amnesty International, Christian Aid, and Human Rights Watch. Adalah also maintains formal alliances with the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network and the International Commission of Jurists.
Although in certain cases Adalah has made a positive contribution to the mandate outlined in its mission statement (for example, winning a more equitable distribution of funds in the budget of the Ministry of Religious Affairs), its international advocacy work betrays a consistent focus on highly politicized issues rather than the legal aspects of human rights.
Adalah has devoted considerable energies to international lobbying. It issues publications in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, and its tactics have proven particularly effective in the United Nations and European Union (EU). For example, in July 2003 Adalah's reports were presented to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights' 78th session in Geneva, and in May 2004 to the United Nations Commission on Education, Social and Cultural Rights. In late November 2002 Adalah sent a delegation to Brussels "to build a strategic EU lobby agenda focused on Palestinian rights in Israel." This built on several years of close contacts between the EU and Adalah. Adalah was also prominent in drafting many of the anti-Israel accusations (calling Israel a nation plagued by "apartheid" and "institutional racism") made in the NGO Declaration that was issued in parallel to the September 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban.
Adalah prepares material for use by Israeli Arab politicians and assists them in shaping ideological arguments into the language of human rights issues. A notable recent example was the move to ban the Arab Knesset members Azmi Bishara and Ahmad Tibi from the Knesset elections of 2003. Adalah presented these cases as as violations of "freedom of representation and expression," but made no mention of the parallel move to ban one of the Jewish candidates, Baruch Marzel, on the same ground: extremism and the threat to public order. Adalah thus introduced a racial dimension into a debate that in fact regarded only the right of political extremists to participate in government. Bishara, Tibi, and Marzel all represent extreme factions, and the Knesset elections committee decided to question the candidature of all three, as is common practice throughout Europe. Ultimately the Supreme Court upheld their right to stand for election, and Bishara and Tibi were elected, but Adalah did not issue an updated report to inform its readers of this development.
This profile is adapted, with permission, from NGO Monitor.