Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may have declared the peace
process “clinically dead,” but two of Israel’s top human rights attorneys have
proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Arabs and Jews can cooperate for peace on
a grassroots level.
Attorney Hassan Jabareen, founder and director of
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and attorney Dan
Yakir, chief legal counsel at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI),
were declared the winners on Monday of the 2012 Victor J.
Prize for Peace in the Middle East.
US-based nonprofit the Institute of
International Education (IIE) awards the prize annually to one Jew and one Arab
who have collaborated to advance peace in the region.
On Monday, IIE
praised Jabareen and Yakir for “demonstrating a unique ability to work together
to bring the perspective of both Jewish and Arab citizens before the Israeli
IIE Trustee Victor J. Goldberg said that while there was
no “magic solution” to the Arab- Israeli conflict, grassroots partnerships such
as that between Yakir and Jabareen could be a “positive
“Throughout the years, Dan and Hassan have been such a positive
force, and their work is an inspiration to human rights lawyers and to social
justice activists alike,” Goldberg added.
Jabareen founded Adalah,
Israel’s first Arab-run legal center, whose name means “justice” in Arabic, in
Through Adalah, Jabareen and his colleagues litigate civil and
human rights cases focusing on Arab rights.
His major High Court cases
have included petitions against the Citizenship Law, which limits Arab family
reunification in Israel.
Yakir, who began working for ACRI in 1989, has
brought many landmark cases to the High Court of Justice, covering issues such
as discrimination against Arab Israelis in the allocation of state
Working together, the two lawyers have “forged new ground both
legally and in public discourse and impact,” IIE said.
Jabareen told The
Jerusalem Post on Monday that he was “very happy and proud” to be chosen as this
year’s Goldberg Prize winner.
ACRI’s executive director, Hagai El-Ad,
said the prize was a “remarkable achievement” and praised Yakir’s and Jabareen’s
“dedication, conviction and courage.”