Knesset Constitution Committee’s Discussion on the Report “Fake News and the Violation of Human Rights: Challenges and Responses”

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On 3 January 2022, the Knesset’s Constitution Committee held a special discussion on Zulat’s report “Fake News and the Violation of Human Rights: Challenges and Responses.” Representing Zulat in the discussion were: Einat Ovadia, Zulat’s executive director; Dr. Michal Evron Yaniv, the author of the report; Prof. Amit Schechter, a member of the report’s steering team; and Attorney Eitai Mack, who drafted the legislative proposals contained in the report.

Also present in the meeting were MKs from various factions of the House. MK Gilad Kariv, the committee’s chairman, said in his opening remarks that “there is government support for legislation on the issues that we will be discussing today.”

Watch executive director Ovadia’s remarks on how fake news violates the right to health and the right to free elections:

Here are excerpts of what the other speakers on our behalf said at the meeting:

Prof. Amit Schechter: “Freedom of expression is the engine of the democratic system. In the absence of freedom of expression, no other rights can exist. Freedom of expression derives in several other ancillary rights. Figuratively speaking, freedom of expression consists of a set of rights that only if complied with is this freedom said to be realized. This is particularly true at the point we are today in terms of the development of the technological means we use to express ourselves. On the face of it, the situation would appear to be wonderful given that freedom of expression is flourishing. However, it can actually be compared to, say, democratizing driving. If we compare freedom of expression to the engine of the democratic system, then we should remember that on the road, which everybody is free to drive and has the right to use, there are those whose driving endangers the lives of other persons, and the question is how we deal with this danger. If we are to use the same metaphor, here too we propose to restrict freedom of movement on the road of freedom of expression of those who utter falsehoods that are intended to harm others.”

Dr. Michal Yaniv Evron: “Democracy is based on the option of electing representatives based on reliable information. The introduction of digital platforms into political campaigns has created a great many problems. Without any transparency, profiles are used to target information at voters and maliciously manipulate them.” Referring to the right to health, Dr. Yaniv Evron said: “Only two days ago we were told about an unvaccinated pregnant woman who had contracted corona and was in mortal danger. The virality of fake news is dangerous. Most anti-vaxxers feed on disinformation. Our right to health is sabotaged under the shield of freedom of expression.”

Attorney Itay Mack: “Our proposed legislative amendments are designed to strengthen and upgrade the toolbox in existing laws, to deal with extreme cases where an organization, group, or individual disseminates fake news with a real potential to endanger the public and the elections.”

>> Click here to read the full report: Fake News and the Violation of Human Rights: Challenges and Responses

 

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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.