Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI): 35 Years

“ACRI Celebrates 35 Years of Civil Rights Achievements in Israel”, read the headline. The front-page story in Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s largest daily newspaper, reflects the success of NIF’s flagship grantee the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).

Since its establishment in 1972, ACRI has brought about a revolution in the Israeli human rights sphere. Known colloquially as the “ACLU of Israel,” ACRI has pioneered social change in the most challenging areas of Israeli life, including rights for minorities, women, the disabled, the LGBT community and foreign workers.

Legal Landmarks

Just a few of the numerous precedent-setting court decisions won by ACRI that have shaped Israeli society and ensured enhanced freedom:

* 1986 - ACRI’s petition to the Supreme Court resulted in the abolishment of censorship for theatrical plays.

* 1987- ACRI successfully appealed to the Supreme Court demanding a change in policy that required women to retire from the workplace at age 60 while allowing men to retire at age 65.

* 1989 - ACRI successfully petitioned the Supreme Court for the recognition of the rights of Conservative and Reform Jews to serve on religious councils.

* 1994 - ACRI successfully petitioned the Supreme Court together with IWN for the right of women to participate in Air Force pilot aptitude tests.

* 1997 - ACRI petitioned the Supreme Court demanding that the police investigate complaints by foreign workers that employers withheld their passports. The petition led to police procedures for processing such complaints.

* 2000 - In response to ACRI’s petition, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision prohibiting the discriminatory allocation of State land, the first time that the Arab community’s equal right to State-allocated land was articulated by the courts.

* 2002 - ACRI, along with other organizations, succeeded in persuading the Supreme Court to ban the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields by the Israeli Defense Force.

* 2004 - As a result of ACRI’s litigation, the State imposed regulations restricting access of government offices and commercial banks to confidential personal information contained in the population registry.

* 2005 - ACRI achieved a first-time ruling by the Supreme Court, which called for the dismantlement of an existing section of the Separation Fence, and for the determination of an alternative route to lessen the violations of the rights of the local Palestinian residents.

* 2006 - ACRI achieved a landmark ruling obligating the Interior Ministry's Population Registry to register the marriages of same-sex couples who marry outside Israel.

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