Founded in 1988, the Nazareth-based Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) seeks “to promote and protect the political, civil, economic, and cultural rights of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel, and to further the domestic implementation of international human rights principles …” HRA literature alleges that Arabs in Israel are “routine[ly]” victimized by Israeli-perpetrated, racially motivated attacks, and that Israeli authorities are oblivious to the plight of Arabs.
HRA’s “core programs” include the following:
(a) International Advocacy: “The discourse about the ongoing violence in Israel/Palestine is dominated by the hostilities resulting from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. … Our main goal is to put the human-rights issues related to the Arab minority inside Israel on the international agenda and to impact the international discourse towards a more rights-based approach concerning Israel.” (b) Human Rights and Civic Education Project: Led by HRA-trained student facilitators, this program reaches more than 16,000 Palestinian Arab schoolchildren and teachers throughout Israel via semester-long courses, workshops, lectures, summer camps, and “human-rights days.” The purpose of the program is to “raise [public] awareness” of HRA’s contention that Israeli policies have caused Palestinian pupils to be “educated in a school system … [that] offers fewer facilities and educational opportunities than its Jewish counterpart, which lead[s] to a general education deficit among the Palestinian minority citizens.”
(c) Working Group on Women’s Rights: “In the Arab community in Israel, women face violations to their rights on multiple levels: Their rights are violated in Israel as members of a minority in a Jewish state; their rights are violated as Arab women in a patriarchal society based on traditional authority; and they share the violations practiced against all women – Jewish and Arab – within the state. These sources of marginalization … combine to make Arab women in Israel the lowest paid, least educated, and least represented portion of Israeli society.”
(d) Research and Reporting (R&R): Launched in 2003, this program “monitor[s] human rights violations against the Palestinian minority in Israel. The methodology relies on field research — interviews with victims, collection of testimonies — and analysis of domestic and international law concerning human rights.” R&R reports consistently portray Israel as an oppressor nation. In May 2004, for example, HRA published “‘Let Them Suffocate’ — Police Brutality during House Demolition in Upper Galilee Village of al-Bea’neh,” which charged that “the [Israeli] police continue to treat Palestinian citizens of Israel as an enemy that can only be addressed through the use of excessive force.”
To supplement its R&R publications, HRA also produces Fact Sheets addressing various issues of relevance to Arabs in Israel. For instance, a fact sheet titled “Discrimination in Israeli Law” holds that Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel are “discriminated against in a variety of forms and denied equal individual rights because of their national belonging.” Another fact sheet, titled “Land Planning and Policy in Israel,” claims the following: “In 1948, the Palestinian Arab community owned and used most of the land within the State of Israel. Today it owns less than 3% of these lands. Palestinian Arab citizens’ ability to own or use the rest is severely restricted by a series of discriminatory laws and practices … a continual process of land expropriation from private (Arab) owners, that has systematically reduced Arab land ownership to cement Jewish control over all parts of the country.”
An HRA press release of March 15, 2006 condemned Israel’s seizure of Ahmed Saadat, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader who ordered the 2001 assassination of Israeli Cabinet Minister Rehavam Zeevi. Making no mention of the fact that this seizure was prompted by the Palestinian Authority‘s Hamas-led government’s announcement that it was contemplating releasing Saadat from prison, HRA accused the United States and United Kingdom of complicity in the operation, and called on the international community to “put pressure on Israel to retract from this illegal action and to return the prisoners to PA jurisdiction.”
On July 31, 2006 — in the midst of an intense Israeli military operation against the Lebanese-based organization Hezbollah — HRA issued a press statement accusing Israel of perpetrating “war crimes,” “violent massacres,” “collective punishment,” and “blatant breaches of international law.” The press release further asserted that “more than 60 civilians” had been killed by an Israeli Air Force attack on the Lebanese village of Qana. The figures provided by the Red Cross on July 30 stated that 28 people had been killed, but HRA never issued a correction.
HRA is a member organization of such NGO umbrella groups as the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network and Ittijah. It has also collaborated with the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
Parts of this profile are adapted, with permission, from NGO Monitor.