Photo by Yotam Ronen,Activestills
About The Association for Civil Rights in Israel
Established in 1972, ACRI is Israel’s oldest, largest human rights organization, and the only one dealing with the entire spectrum of rights and civil liberties issues in Israel and the Occupied Territories. An independent and non-partisan organization, ACRI’s mandate is to ensure Israel’s accountability and respect for human rights, and is committed to promoting and defending the human rights and civil liberties of all, regardless of religion, nationality, gender, ethnicity, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background.
Since its inception, ACRI has been consistently successful in bringing precedent-setting litigation to the High Court of Justice and has contributed significantly to the protection of human rights in Israel and the Occupied Territories. ACRI is widely respected within the legal community and among decision makers, the media and the public at large.
Groundbreaking Recent Achievements
Guaranteed Social Security: The National Labor Court accepted our stance and determined that it is illegal to deny a person their social security income support benefits because he or she also receives financial assistance from relatives or charities.
Aging in Dignity: Following our campaign with partner organizations, the Nursing Care Law was amended and the National Nursing Program approved: raising the number of caregiving hours, improving the quality of services, eliminating the burden on families to pay for nursing after hospitalization and dental care.
Pride Parades: Following our petition with Israel’s LGBT Task Force and youth activists from across the community, Kfar Saba held it’s first-ever Pride Parade.
Equality in Housing: Following our petition, the Israel Land Authority imposed a fine on a construction company that discriminated against an Arab client, and in a separate lawsuit, an Arab couple were compensated after being discriminated against by a construction company.
Due Process of At-Risk Minors: Following our petition, the Ministry of Welfare published a new and much more balanced procedure regarding the activities and decision-making committees of the Ministry of Social Affairs, which discuss placement of minors at risk. This updated procedure is a great improvement upon that which we originally petitioned.
Halting Compulsory Conversions in the IDF: Following our petition, the IDF was instructed to stop compelling soldiers not officially recognized as Jewish under Jewish Law to participate in preparation courses and conversion to Judaism programs – a practice that soldiers reported as being humiliating, offensive, and invasive.
A Win for Freedom of Expression: Following our appeal, the Supreme Court held that a municipality cannot prohibit organizations operating in its buildings from holding public discussions on controversial issues such as coexistence.
Electricity for All: Israeli Electricity Market Regulatory Authority adhered to ACRI’s request and published, for the first time, guidelines regulating the practice of cutting families off the electricity grid due to debts owed.
Arabic in Matriculation Exams: The Ministry of Education adhered to ACRI’s demand that matriculation exam questionnaires be translated into Arabic, affording students equal opportunities for academic advancement.
The Best of the Sciences: The “Excellence in Science” program in Kfar Saba, traditionally reserved exclusively for boys, responded to requests from ACRI and partner organizations and officially opened the program to girls.
ACRI in Academia: ACRI ran an academic course in anti-racism education at the University of Haifa, and a similar course will be held at Tel Aviv University.
Social Services for People with Impaired Mental Functioning: As a result of our work with other organizations, ACRI succeeded in repealing a discriminatory policy which prevented people with impaired mental functioning from receiving social services at social welfare offices.
Postal Services for East Jerusalem: Following our petition, the Ministry of Communications will begin laying the foundations for new local post offices and distribution centers to be opened in East Jerusalem for local residents.
Precedent-Setting Legal Work
ACRI’s Legal Department takes on cases that have the potential to set precedents, raise issues of principle, and effect broad-based policy change. Every year, ACRI argues dozens of precedent-setting cases before the Supreme Court, and also seeks redress before district and labor courts, government ministries, and Knesset committees.
ACRI is highly regarded in the Israeli legal community for its professionalism and commitment to bringing landmark cases to the Supreme Court. Since its establishment, ACRI has achieved major advancements in a wide range of areas such as: freedom of expression; the right to privacy; freedom of and from religion; women’s rights; criminal justice; equality for Arab citizens; the gay and lesbian community, and other minority populations; migrant workers’ rights; and human rights in the Occupied Territories.
In-Depth Human Rights Education
ACRI believes that to foster a culture of human rights and to bring about real and lasting social change in Israel, we have to work in the educational arena to advance the key values we advocate for in the legal and public arenas. Awareness and appreciation for human and civil rights must be promoted widely and early on and among all sectors of Israeli society. As such, ACRI’s Education Department conducts human rights training programs for thousands of individuals across the country each year, produces high-quality educational curricula in Hebrew and Arabic, and organizes conferences and lectures on human rights education. We believe working with key agents of change – teachers in the Jewish and Arab school systems, students, security forces personnel, and social and community workers – is an effective method to influence attitudes and contribute toward building a more tolerant and just society.
ACRI also operates a program on International Humanitarian Law (IHL), in order to raise public awareness of the harsh implications of harming a civilian population in the course of armed combat, and of the military’s obligation to prevent such injuries. ACRI offers IHL educational workshops to social activists, students, educators, youth movement counselors, and students at pre-military academies. The overriding objective is to enhance the participants’ knowledge of IHL, and to provide opportunities for discussion and for developing their positions on the issues involved.
Extensive Public Outreach
ACRI believes that a public more aware of the complex fields of civil liberties and human rights is better equipped to stand up for its rights, and more prepared to respect the rights of others. To achieve this, ACRI publishes high-profile reports and information leaflets; organizes lectures, conferences, film screenings and other public and community events covering a wide range of human rights issues; and runs a public hotline to assist people whose rights have been infringed.
ACRI recognizes the crucial role that the media plays in shaping public opinion. Therefore, an integral part of ACRI’s organizational strategy involves mobilizing the media to place human rights high on the public agenda to stimulate debate and awareness. ACRI’s work appears on a daily basis in a wide range of domestic and international print, broadcast, and electronic media outlets.
ACRI also maintains Israel’s largest collection of civil and human rights materials, much of which can be accessed through this website. To inform the public and decision-makers of our activities and crucial human rights issues, ACRI regularly publishes online newsletters, reports, and position papers in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
Strategic International Advocacy
Complementing our work inside Israel, ACRI undertakes a broad range of activities in the international arena, including: submitting shadow reports and providing information to UN committees and representatives regarding Israel’s compliance with its human rights obligations; meeting with foreign diplomats and government representatives; participating in international conferences and NGO networks; and raising awareness of human rights issues by generating ongoing international media coverage. Through such activities, ACRI acts as an important conduit of accurate and reliable information concerning the human rights situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories.