Executive director of Israel’s leading human rights organisation to make first visit to Australia for NIF - New Israel Fund Australia

Executive director of Israel’s leading human rights organisation to make first visit to Australia for NIF

One of Israel’s leading human rights champions, Hagai El-Ad, the executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), will make his first visit to Australia next month for a speaking tour on behalf of the New Israel Fund.

Mr. El-Ad, who has been executive director of ACRI since 2008, will deliver a series of addresses to diverse audiences in Sydney and Melbourne between October 5 and 18.

Robin Margo, NIF Australia president, said: “The Association of Civil Rights in Israel is the New Israel Fund’s largest grantee and its work goes to the heart of NIF’s purpose. We are therefore delighted to have Hagai El-Ad come to Australia to tell us first hand about ACRI’s work safeguarding fundamental democratic principles and human rights in Israel.”

Hagai El-ADACRI is the flagship grantee of the New Israel Fund. It was founded in1972, making this its 40th anniversary. ACRI is Israel’s oldest, broadest and largest human rights organisation.

ACRI's legal accomplishments have shaped core policies in key areas over the years, including:

  • Successfully demanding recognition of Reform conversions to Judaism performed in Israel in registering citizens as Jewish in the Population Registry.
  • Successfully petitioning the Supreme Court for the equal provision of rent support for Arab and Jewish families.
  • Successfully petitioning the Supreme Court for the right of women to participate in Air Force pilot aptitude tests.
  • Winning a judgment against El Al prohibiting the airline from refusing to consider a female pilot as a candidate for a position.

ACRI is currently petitioning the Supreme Court to prevent the government from building seven new towns in the Negev, which would destroy five existing Bedouin villages that are home to 8,000 people.

Last year ACRI won the prestigious Gruber International Justice Prize, only the second Israeli organisation or individual to do so since Justice Aharon Barak in 2006.

Born in Haifa, Mr. El-Ad studied astrophysics, earning a Bachelor of Science and a Master’s of Science at the Hebrew University. Between 1997 and 2000 he was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astro-Physics in Cambridge, MA. He did not continue his doctoral studies, deciding instead to return to Jerusalem to take up the fight for human and civil rights.

Over the last decade, Mr. El-Ad has become an influential advocate whose views on Arab-Jewish relations, human and civil rights, LGBT rights and equality in Israel have been widely published in Israel and abroad.

A trailblazer since he was a student at the Hebrew University, Mr. El-Ad was the first executive director of the Jerusalem Open House, the community and advocacy centre for the city’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. In June 2002, he launched what has now become Jerusalem’s Annual Pride and Tolerance March. In June 2010, he was one of 17 protesters wrongly arrested in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem while opposing the eviction of Palestinians from their homes and their replacement with Jewish families.

Mr. El-Ad said Israel’s democratic reputation is maintained by foundations such as NIF and the organisations it supports. “Anyone who defames NIF may think they are damaging it; but in fact, they are causing tremendous damage to our democracy – and to its image throughout the world,” he said.