ACRI Israel fails citizens human rights in favour of left wing politics
In one of the most insipid elections for decades, political parties have been courting each other in order to try form a government before voters go to the polls. It has become a ground for just left or right, religious or secular.
Meanwhile on the ground, police brutality continues as democratic protests are curtailed and violence is carried out almost daily by police. One would assume that ACRI - the association for civil rights in Israel, also known as Human Rights Defenders Israel would be springing into action to protect the civil and human rights of the Israelis.
Members of the board are linked heavily to the left wing Meretz political party, a former founder of Bet S'lem is married to the chairwoman; and the New Israel Fund pays for training and donates heavily, but not one single Israeli Jewish activist has had any support. Time and time again, lip service has been paid to the pleas of Israelis who have turned to them for help.
The only declared human rights defender organization for Jewish Israelis in Israel says violations from corruption is not in their mandate. This seems surprising as the UN themselves have been working on Committees to combine Corruption and Violation of Human Rights.
In the past, they have encouraged men to protest outside judges home against violations of family court decisions, but didn't report the ensuing arrests, nor expose corruption. They appear to be just a political watchdog supporting left wing anti government rhetoric but not standing up against the ministries and their public officials, which affects citizens the most. Who really defends human rights defenders in Israel? Not ACRI.
The common misconception is that Israel is flooded with NPGs working for human rights and protecting human right defenders. Research performed by CCF-Israel a UN recognized civil society reveals that really there is nobody to lend a hand and none of the NGOs are really doing much other than paying hefty salaries to their employees.
Following an appearance at the UN pre-session conferences to discuss the State of Israel's violations of the U.N. Convention on Social Economic and Cultural Rights in march 2019 in Geneva, representatives of the non-funded Coalition for Children and Family (Israel), Marianne Azizi and Attorney Meir Mickey Givati, had been contacting European funding organizations for human rights defenders to solicit financial help for some of the defenders in Israel who are arrested or in house arrest for criticizing the Israeli Judiciary. It appears that these organizations require a letter of recommendation from an NGO in Israel. Frontline Defenders based in Dublin, for example refers calls for assistance to "Human Rights Defenders of Israel". It turns out that this is a fake NGO, a dummy set up by ACRI, the "Association for Civil rights in Israel". ACRI's dominant person in charge is attorney Dan Yakir.
It has been stated by academics, ex social workers and professionals that there is not one single NGO in Israel which stands for Jewish Israeli citizens fighting corruption. Whistle blowers are ignored, as are citizens and even lawyers.
When questioned in emails Dan Yakir quotes as follows when asked to give a recommendation for Frontline, who were in the process of trying to assist Attorney Givati as a human rights defender.
Marianne Azizi: (MA): After the presentation in the Committee, they expressed a major concern for his safety, especially as he has 4 terabytes of evidence in welfare and juvenile cases. I provided a wealth of information to them in English, but the stumbling block of Frontline Defenders and any others, is the need for a 3rd party NGO to corroborate the information. We have found no such organisation who focus purely on the civil and human rights violations of Jewish Israelis as a main priority. Members of the Zehut Party have confirmed this is so, and I provided various individual references.
Dan Yakir (DY). I cannot write a letter of recommendation because I don't know any of the persons involved.
M.A. If he comes to meet you, would that help?
M.A. May I ask why? This is a lawyer who has exposed the judicial corruption and targeted.
D.Y. Meeting him will not enable me to write a recommendation.
M.A. What would you need?
D.Y. It's elementary - I'm unable to write a recommendation regarding persons I don't know.
M.A. Please can I ask, what is the process for approaching ACRI with any issues for Human Rights Defenders? As an Israeli Civil Society, we do reports and requests for individuals who face harassment, and with special cases which may go to Frontline or other organisations, they also like another reference.
So, how would we refer cases to you, so to corroborate with a third party?
D.Y. Anyone can call our hotline in regard to a HR violation but corruption is not part of our mandate.
M.A. So just for my clarity, if a person has been targeted and harassed due to being either a victim or a whistleblower on corruption, this is not part of your mandate? Most of the people who we have tried to help are victims of corruption. For example exposing judicial corruption on an individual level, not just blogging, or the harassment a person gets which affects their lives.
D.Y. I can't continue this correspondence. Anyone whose rights were infringed, can approach us and get a response. All the relevant details are on our website.
So, what does ACRI really do? It turns out nothing much other than paying huge salaries to its main principals. Out of 7.5 Million NIS ($2.15 Million USD), each of the five main principals collects between 200,000 to 300,000 NIS ($56,000-$84,000). In the year 2017, ACRI ended up the year at 950,000 NIS ($266,000) in deficit. According to their reported non-audited financial report, 5.3 Million NIS was spent on salaries ($1.5 Million USD). Another 1.1 Million NIS ($300,000) was spent on administration. Rent paid was another 950,000 NIS ($265,000).
In contrast ACRI reports spending on actual work for the core agenda for which it exists 465,000 NIS ($130,00) in legal activity, 150,000 NIS ($42,000) in educational activity, probably rounds of lectures in schools, and 240,000 NIS ($67,000) in unspecified public activity. Arguably this was the upkeep of the web site. That's it. Nothing was spent on defending human rights defenders although ACRI presents itself under the title "Human Rights Defenders of Israel".
Some of the donors of ACRI for 2018 are: The European Union $187,000 for elimination of institutionalized racism and discrimination, $30,000 for freedom of speech, and $25,000 for human rights "in planning", $267,000 from "Bread the world" for Arab minority rights, $41,000 from Christian Aid for general purposes, $56,000 from the Embassy of Norway for advocating a solution for Jerusalem, and $3,000 from the embassy of Canada towards a conference commemorating 70 years for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Also, in 2017 a deceased person bequeathed an apartment in Jerusalem to ACRI.
So, what does ACRI really do? A review of their web site shows they simply monitor Israeli press, pick up articles of interest and paraphrase them into entries into their web site. This is how they create an impression of a multitude of activity, when there really is very little. In 2019 they appeared at the Supreme court on behalf of 32 parents and children who want to compel a city with Jewish majority to open an Arab speaking school. They also took to the Supreme Court a decision of the Mayor of Haifa to remove from public display a controversial statue of Jesus. They sent a letter to the Ministry of Interiors demanding to translate more web pages into Arabic. In a case of a mini-settlement Mitzpe Kramim built on Palestinian lands, they filed an Amicus Curiae brief together with another NGO who actually wrote the brief. In another case in beer Sheva where a woman's football team wanted to compel the city of Beer Sheva to grant them more funds, they jumped on the wagon and also filed an amicus curiae brief claiming that women in sport suffer discrimination.
All in all, ACRI does not appear to deliver on its promises. Other than a few letters here and there, or joining other NGOs campaigns in pre existing court petitions and lending their name to the cause ACRI and Dan Yakir do not appear to do much to justify their salaries. Human Rights Defenders receive zero assistance from ACRI, and in recent years they have not started any meaningful court challenges to change the way Israeli judges simply defy human rights and make a mockery out of them.
The abuse of major whistle blowers in Israel has had no support from ACRI. As corruption is not in their mandate, the fact that these activists are beaten, abused, imprisoned and some held without trial, has not raised an eyebrow in the organisation. Yet, they are the gatekeepers for international defenders groups as they are the only point for references to support the reports of violations by the only non funded civil society who does stand for the Israelis - Coalition for Children & Families Israel. The civil society has reported the abuse of the disabled in protests, the tax authority fraud, false imprisonment of Roman Zadorov, judicial corruption, the welfare and removing of 20,000 children from home - the previous CEO of the welfare confirming that a huge majority are taken to fill beds and make private profit. They have made countless videos from lawyers and individuals showing a pattern of abuse.
When headlines appeared in Israel exposing the Court Administration keeping a secret database on citizens who criticised the system on social media; and had even admitted using the data to tip of judges and create bias in court - not a word from ACRI on this appalling abuse of freedom of speech.
When martial law was declared in the city of Petach Tikvah, and a supreme court appeal was raised to allow democratic protests - not a comment or any support.
When headlines across the country showed the abuse of bloggers held without trial for over 2.5 years, in prison and now house arrest - silence from ACRI
Yet, they advertised themselves as being the first and only organisation to fight for the rights of parents and children in juvenile courts. But refused to meet the juvenile lawyer who has fought for a decade against corruption - as it is NOT their mandate. The list goes on.
Due to this position, no European organisations are prepared to help Israelis who are fighting to get the news out of human rights violations across the country, in order to make change and save lives.
Officially, it can now be said that there is not one single NGO in Israel to help the Israelis themselves. Frontline were quoted as saying they had never had a case like this in their history.
The only democracy in the Middle East has put a block on any free speech on Judiciary and Welfare, and other major corruption and punishes those who speak out, and their watchdog ACRI is supporting the block.