Israeli-Palestinian Symposium of Partners for Progressive Israel With the Participation of Zulat’s Executive Director Einat Ovadia

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On 23 October 2022, ahead of the November elections, Partners for Progressive Israel held a symposium on the subject of Israel’s human rights violations as part of its “Conversations With Israel and Palestine” series. The event was addressed by Zulat’s Executive Director Einat Ovadia, Givat Haviva’s Director of Strategic Planning Mohammad Darawshe, Jerusalem City Councilor Laura Wharton, and moderator Gili Getz. Following are highlights of Einat’s remarks:

“We see a long process, which has been spanning over more than a decade, of delegitimization of Arab society, the Palestinian citizens of Israel, human rights organizations, and self-proclaimed leftists. The upcoming elections are an opportunity to stop the authoritarian trend we have discerned since the beginning of Netanyahu’s second term in 2009. We ask ourselves: What kind of democracy are we talking about anyway? Zulat published a report that asked that very same question, and concluded that there has never been a liberal democracy here. From day one, democratic trends have coexisted alongside authoritarian ones, and have now grown stronger.

“Soldiers break into the homes of Palestinians who are denied the right to decide their own fate, some political parties believe that women are second-class citizens and do not allow them to run for office. The powerful right-wing Kohelet Forum influences decision-makers and pressures Ayelet Shaked not to sign the Istanbul Convention on fighting violence against women.

“The upcoming elections will decide whether we can strengthen and protect democracy, the right to equality, freedom of protest and expression, and the resilience of social organizations. It is feared that one of our parties will not meet the electoral threshold and that Itamar Ben-Gvir’s party, bolstered by Netanyahu, will continue what it started. We sent proposals for reforms to those party leaders who declared their commitment to uphold liberal values, ​​and we hope they will gain positions that will allow them to promote them. In our opinion, Israel needs a constitution, but this is not enough. We have a long way to go, many laws need to be passed to protect human rights and equality.”

In response to a question from the audience about whether Israel is a theocracy, Einat said: “I understand how people who don’t live here ask themselves how we can call Israel a democracy, but it’s not like we don’t have any liberal and democratic foundations. There is a separation of powers, a supreme court, certain freedom of the press, and we are not thrown in jail for voicing our views. At the same time, there are illiberal elements and these can get stronger. We are trying to influence the discourse in Israel to be more pro-human rights, to restore the legitimacy to talk about it without being considered traitors. We work from within civil society to influence the way different narratives are presented, as well as to change the law and policy or else it will be impossible to change the reality in Israel.”

 

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Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi

 

Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.

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Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.

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Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.

 

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Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.