The Israeli Defense Ministry’s order issued on October 19, 2021, labelling six Palestinian non- governmental organizations as ‘terrorist organizations’ and ordering the closure of their offices, is an affront to human rights, freedom of expression and association, and a thinly-veiled move to shut down legitimate criticism of Israeli human rights abuses. The order allows the Israeli military to shut down the offices of Al-Haq, Addameer, Defense for Children-Palestine (DCI-P), the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, the Union of Palestinian Women Committees, and the Bisan Center for Research and Development. These prominent organizations – some of whom have been in existence for decades – have won international awards for their work defending human rights. Human rights organizations around the world have learned from and aspire to attain the skill, experience, knowledge, and dedication that the staff and leadership of these human rights organizations have displayed in the face of the extreme oppression of the Israelioccupation.
Currently, members of the U.S. Congress are deliberating a bill, spearheaded by Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn), Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, on which they, and Congresswoman McCollum, worked closely with DCI-P. Congresswoman McCollum has just issued a statement condemning the shut-down of the Palestinian NGO’s, and we echo her call to the Biden administration to urge “the Israeli government to reverse the decision and restore these organizations’ ability to continue their important work.”
These organizations have collaborated with a vast number of human rights institutions around the world, including on cases and projects, workshops and conferences, and human rights reports. They are our colleagues in the global human rights struggle. Some of us have worked with them directly, while others have benefitted from their human rights reporting and expertise in the region. Others know them by reputation. Even before the October 19 order, they faced constant harassment and efforts by the Israeli government and government-supported parastatal organizations to cut off their funding and discredit their work. Until now, they have persevered, in part because they have the support of international partners and funders, who recognize the critical importance of their advocacy on behalf of ordinary Palestinians suffering under Israel’s occupation. They have documented human rights violations committed by both the Palestinian Authority and Israeli security forces, litigated on behalf of Palestinians detained indefinitely without trial, and sought to protect the rights of women and children. Without their presence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, ordinary Palestinians will be left without skilled, experienced legal advocates to defend them—and the world will be deprived of critical information about the human rights situation throughout the region.
Addameer, founded in 1992, advocates for Palestinian political prisoners who suffer long-term arbitrary detention—without charge or trial—and has documented severe abuse and torture of detainees, including children, by Israeli authorities. Addameer has worked closely for years with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the World Organization against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).
Al-Haq, founded in 1979, is the West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists- Geneva. Al-Haq has won, among many other international awards, the Human Rights Prize of the French Republic, the Danish PL Foundation Prize, the Geuzenpenning Prize for Human Rights Defenders, and the Gwynne Skinner Human Rights Award from the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable. Al-Haq has issued dozens of meticulously documented reports on topics such as the right to life and bodily integrity, the right to housing, freedom of movement,the annexation wall, and settler violence.
The Bisan Center for Research and Development has been in operation since the late 1980's, and has a particular focus on the most marginalized communities in Palestine. It has centered its work on economic and social rights of women, youth, and workers in the most rural and deprived areas, advocating for their development needs. The Center has conducted pioneering research on attitudes toward gender-based violence in the health community, and has partnered with UNIFEM on work to end violence against women.
The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) is one of the oldest Palestinian NGOs that supports and advocates for Palestinian farmers' rights to sovereignty of their land and products. They have played a leading role in documenting settler violence against Palestinian farmers, work that is even more important now as Palestinians across the West Bank are facing massive settler violence as they try to harvest their olive crops. Since August 2021, settlers have injured at least 22 Palestinians and have destroyed over 1,800 Palestinian trees. UAWC has received the UNDP Equator Prize and the US Food Sovereignty Alliance's Food Sovereignty Prize for its contribution to global sustainable food development based on its unique seed bank initiative.
The Union of Palestinian Women Committees (UPWC), established in 1980, is the umbrella organization for all Palestinian women's groups in the Occupied Territories. Its staff have supported Palestinian women's rights, equality between men and women, and equity between social classes. UPWC has been a major force in the women's rights movement in Palestine, and plays an active role in the global movement for women's rights.
These organizations would not have the international recognition and global network of partners and collaborators in their human rights work if the pretext Israel has given for declaring them to be ‘terrorist organizations’ were credible.
We urge the Biden Administration to immediately demand that Israel rescind the October 19 order, and restore the rights of Al-Haq, Addameer, DCI-P, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, and the Bisan Center for Research and Development to carry out their work. We also call upon the donor community to maintain their support for these organizations so they can continue their vital work.
Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
CLEAR Clinic, CUNY School of Law
Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute
Cornell Law School Gender Justice Clinic
Cornell Law School International Human Rights Clinic
Cornell University Labor Law Clinic
International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School
International Human Rights Clinic, Boston University School of Law
Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law
Robert and Helen Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, NYU School of Law
University Network for Human Rights
Afsaneh Rigot, senior researcher, ARTICLE 19
Alice M. Miller, Co-Director, Global Health Justice Partnership of the Yale Law and Public Health Schools, Yale University
Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University
Anthony Tirado Chase, Young Initiative, Occidental College
Arang Keshavarzian, Faculty member, New York University
Astha Sharma Pokharel, Clinical Teaching Fellow, International Human Rights Law Clinic, University of California at Berkeley
Atalia Omer, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
Avidan Y. Cover, Professor of Law, Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Aziza Ahmed, Professor of Law
Bassam Khawaja, Co-director, Human Rights and Privatization Project, NYU School of Law
Benjamín Juárez, Professor Emeritus, Boston University
Bert Lockwood, Distinguished Service Professor and Director, Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, University of Cincinnati College of Law
Christine Bustany, Senior Lecturer in International Law , The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University
Darryl Li, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and in the College // Associate Member, Law School, University of Chicago
Deborah M. Weissman, Reef C. Ivey II Distinguished Professor of Law School of Law, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Deena R. Hurwitz, Esq.
Diane L. Moore, Director Religion and Public Life, Harvard Divinity School
Elisabeth Ward-Herman , International Human Rights Law Institute of DePaul University College of Law
Fred Moten, New York University
Gianpaolo Baiocchi, Professor of Individualized Studies and Sociology, New York University
Hannah R. Garry, Director, USC International Human Rights Clinic
Helga Tawil-Souri, Associate Professor, New York University
Ioannis Kalpouzos, Visiting Professor, Harvard Law School
Karen Musalo, Bank of America Foundation Chair in International Law, Professor & Director, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, U.C. Hastings College of the Law
Lisa Wedeen, University of Chicago
Mary Ellen O'Connell, University of Notre Dame
Meg Satterthwaite, Faculty Director, Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, NYU School of Law
Mindy Jane Roseman, J.D., Ph.D., Director, Gruber Program for Global Justice and Women's Rights, Yale Law School
Noura Erakat, Associate Professor, Rutgers University- New Brunswick
Obiora Okafor, Professor, School of Advanced international Studies, Johns Hopkins University
Pablo de Greiff Senior Fellow and Director, Prevention Project; Transitional Justice Program, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York University School of Law and former UN Special Rapporteur for the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence (2012-2018)
Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor, Gallatin & MCC, NYU-AAUP
Rabea Eghbariah, Harvard Law School, Adalah
Ramzi Kassem, Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law
Randa Wahbe, Department of Anthropology, Harvard University
Rebecca E. Karl, Professor of History, New York University
Ritty Lukose, New York University
Sandra L. Babcock, Clinical Professor, Cornell Law School
Sarah H. Paoletti, Practice Professor of Law and Director, Transnational Legal Clinic*, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
Sinan Antoon, New York University
Stephanie Barbour, International Human Rights Lawyer
Stephen A. Rosenbaum, MPP, JD, Frank C. Newman Lecturer, School of Law, University of California, Berkeley
Sukti Dhital, Executive Director, Bernstein Institute for Human Rights, NYU School of Law
Swethaa S. Ballakrishnen (they/them), Assistant Professor of Law and (by courtesy) Sociology, Asian American Studies, and Criminology, Law and Society, Faculty Co-Director, Center for Empirical Research on the Legal Profession, University of California Irvine School of Law
Tally Kritzman-Amir, Visiting Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Law
Tarek Z. Ismail, CUNY School of Law
Vasuki Nesiah, Professor of Human Rights and International Law, The Gallatin School, New York University
Zohra Ahmed, Assistant Professor, University of Georgia School of Law
In addition to the Biden Administration, we call upon leaders and governments abroad to immediately demand that Israel rescind the October 19 order, and restore the rights of Al-Haq, Addameer, DCI-P, the Union of Agricultural WorkCommittees, the Union of Palestinian Women’s Committees, and the Bisan Center for Research and Development to carry out their work.
DITSHWANELO - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
Dorothy Estrada Tanck , Assistant Professor of International Law and International Relations, Director of the Legal Clinic of the Faculty of Law, University of Murcia, Spain
Dr Gearóid Ó Cuinn, Director of the Global Legal Action Network
Dr Koldo Casla, Director, Human Rights Centre Clinic, University of Essex, UK
Dr. Ardi Imseis, Assistant Professor of Law, Queen’s University
Dr. Daragh Murray, Director, University of Essex Human Rights Centre Clinic Digital Verification Unit
Dr. Raed Abubadawia
Dr. Robert Heinsch, LL.M.; Director of the Leiden International Humanitarian Law Clinic at Leiden University, The Netherlands
Eva Rieter, International Human Rights Scholar
Heidi Matthews, Assistant Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, Pan-African human rights organization based in Banjul The Gambia
Jacob van Garderen, human rights lawyer, South Africa
Sari Bashi, Israeli human rights lawyer and scholar
Southern Africa Litigation Centre
The Centre for Applied Legal Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand
The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria