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Jabareen, Hasan (1964–) - PERSONAL HISTORY, INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS, BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS, PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:, THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE, LEGACY

rights legal arab israel

Hasan Jabareen (also Hassan Jabarin) is the founder and general director of Adalah—The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. He conceptualized the legal framework of group rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and implemented it in litigation brought by Adalah. Jabareen is mostly known for his special contribution to reshaping the judicial treatment of the Palestinian Arab community in Israeli courts. He introduced new patterns of legal thinking and behavior into Arab society, demonstrating a high level of professionalism and commitment to human rights. His litigation of constitutional and administrative law cases before the Israeli Supreme Court has made him a prominent lawyer in Israel and abroad. Jabareen litigates on issues of discrimination, political rights, land rights, and economic and social rights on behalf of Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as humanitarian cases involving the protection of Palestinian civilians under occupation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Many of these cases have resulted in landmark, precedent-setting decisions and in significant changes in Israeli constitutional law. Jabareen supervises a large legal staff and has trained more than fifteen lawyers in human rights litigation. He is the editor in chief of Adalah’s Review (a trilingual legal journal) and the editor of Adalah’s Newsletter (a monthly trilingual electronic journal).

PERSONAL HISTORY

Jabareen was born on 9 April 1964 in Umm al-Fahm, the second-largest Arab village in Israel. His father, Rafiq, is a lawyer who was politically active and established the local magazine Fikr (Thought). His mother Afaf is a housewife. Jabareen grew up in Umm al-Fahm; he is the oldest son and has three brothers and three sisters. He went to elementary school in the village. From his early years, he was exposed to the complexities of the political situation of the Arab minority in Israel. Being a lawyer, his father used to deal with legal cases of severe discrimination against Arabs in land and planning issues. From his early years Jabareen was exposed to the deep interrelationship between political and legal issues. Therefore, when he was sent to the Orthodox high school in Haifa, he was already politically conscious, something that influenced his relationships with his schoolmates. The new atmosphere in the city exposed him to the Israeli Jewish society on the one hand, and to the lack of willingness among his schoolmates to admit and fight for their Palestinian identity on the other. Jabareen was suspected of being affiliated with the Palestinian nationalist movement Abna al-Balad (Sons of the Village) and in 1981 was arrested and interrogated by the Israeli police when he was still seventeen. The police alleged that Jabareen had connections with activists in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which was considered at that time to be an illegal terrorist organization. He was released after fifteen days in prison and was never charged. This experience intensified Jabareen’s political awareness, especially the emphasis on his Palestinian identity.

After finishing high school, he returned to Umm al-Fahm and assisted his father in his law office in Hadera. After a long debate with his parents about his wish to study physics, Jabareen was convinced to continue in the family tradition and study law. His father wanted him to study law and become a lawyer for three main reasons. First, he did not want him to become a teacher, dependent on the political will of influential people in the Education Ministry. Second, his father believed that Jabareen would not be appointed as a teacher because he comes from an active political family. Third, his father wanted economic independence for his son.

Jabareen’s experience in living in Jewish cities—Haifa and Hadera—made it easier for him to move and study law at the faculty of law at Tel Aviv University starting in 1986. During his studies, Jabareen, being an Arab, became a popular figure, expected to represent and explain the Palestinian and Arab position vis-à-vis Israel. In an interview he explained that, in every debate among students regarding any aspect of the Israeli-Arab conflict, especially after the outbreak of the first intifada in 1987, his classmates expected him to stand up and present his analytical views regarding the topic discussed. Having to defend his views in front of a large number of Israeli-Jewish students on a regular basis strengthened his rhetoric and his speaking abilities and helped him advocate for his position in any political or legal forum. In his fourth academic year, Jabareen was appointed a teaching assistant in labor law. He completed an LL.B (law) and a B.A. (philosophy) in 1991. He later obtained an LL.M. in law from the American University in Washington, D.C. in 1996.

INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS

After completing law school, Jabareen began his practice in a well-known commercial law firm in Tel Aviv—Reshef and Reshef. After two years, he moved to work for the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) instead of opening a new law office or joining his father. The main reason behind his decision to forgo private practice and to work for a human rights organization is the importance he saw in constitutional law and human rights issues. Soon he became a lawyer for ACRI in Haifa.

BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Name: Hasan Jabareen (Hassan Jabarin)

Birth: 1964, Umm al-Fahm, Israel

Family: Wife, Rina

Nationality: Palestinian

Education: LL.B (law), B.A. (philosophy), Tel Aviv University, 1991; LL.M. (law), American University, Washington, D.C., 1996

PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:

  • 1986: Starts his studies in law at Tel Aviv University
  • 1991–1992: Articled law clerk, Reshef and Reshef Law Offices, Tel Aviv
  • 1992–1994: Staff attorney, Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Haifa Branch
  • 1995: Legal intern, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Washington, D.C.
  • 1996: Founder and general director, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Jabareen’s experience in ACRI, which he views in positive terms, convinced him that there is a need for a legal center that deals with Arab collective rights. His urge to establish a legal center to answer the needs of the Arab population in Israel mirrored his legal philosophy and political thinking. Jabareen was critical of the liberal legal approach of ACRI. Despite the fact that he viewed ACRI’s work as important, he viewed it as too limited if he was to treat the legal needs of the Arab population seriously. He claims that the Arab population is discriminated against not as citizens only. They are discriminated against because of what they are, namely Palestinian. Therefore, liberal legal approaches are insufficient to answer the national, cultural, religious, and linguistic discrimination against Arabs in Israel. Jabareen adopted a communitarian legal philosophy that views the common good of the community as a fundamental and basic right that should be defended if the rights of each individual in the community are to be protected. In Jabareen’s view this legal philosophy is right in particular in minority societies that are discriminated against merely based on their identity. Therefore, Jabareen sought to establish Adalah and to set its goals as “to achieve equal individual and collective rights for the Arab minority in Israel in different fields including land rights; civil and political rights; cultural, social, and economic rights; religious rights; women’s rights; and prisoners’ rights.” These goals mirror the emphasis on the particular identity of the Arab community and its collective rights.

In order to implement his personal philosophy and achieve the goals of Adalah, Jabareen leads a team of lawyers, bringing cases before Israeli courts and various state authorities regarding the rights of the Arab minority. He advocates for legislation that will ensure equal individual and collective rights for the Arab minority and provides legal consultation to individuals, nongovernmental organizations, and Arab institutions. He also brings Adalah to appeal to international institutions and forums in order to promote the rights of the Arab minority in particular, and human rights in general. Furthermore, Jabareen is well known for his intensive involvement in organizing study days, seminars, and workshops, and in publishing reports on legal issues concerning the rights of the Arab minority in particular, and human rights in general. Many Arab law students were trained by him and became well known for their professionalism and commitment to human rights.

Jabareen served as lead lawyer, co-counsel, or supervising attorney in over 100 major human rights/civil rights cases before the Supreme Court of Israel and other legal forums. It is impossible to illustrate the depth and breadth of his legal thought without pointing out some of the legal cases he led and is still leading. One of the most important legal cases that Jabareen led was before the Or Commission of Inquiry into the October 2000 Protest Demonstrations. The government established this official commission of inquiry after the killing of thirteen Palestinian citizens of Israel and the injury of hundreds of others by the Israeli police in October 2000 during protest demonstrations. The commission was comprised of three members and chaired by Supreme Court Justice Or. Jabareen and the Adalah legal team represented the family members of the thirteen victims and for all of the Arab political leaders including Arab Members of the Knesset (MKs) and the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel (the highest Arab representative institution). After three years of proceedings that included hundreds of hearings and investigations, the commission issued its eight hundred-page final report in September 2003. This report is the first official Israeli legal document that relates in a comprehensive way to the historical discrimination against Arab citizens of Israel. The commission concluded, among other things, that police officers and commanders were responsible for the killings and injuries, and ordered the opening of criminal investigations. The commission also recommended that the government initiate affirmative action programs to remedy historical discrimination against the Arabs in Israel, including issues of land matters.

Another important legal case is H.C. (High Court) 2773/98 and H.C. 11163/03, the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel, et al. v. the Prime Minister of Israel (Supreme Court of Israel). In this case, Jabareen filed a petition on behalf of the High Follow-up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel and others asking to cancel an Israeli governmental decision that divided the country into National Priority Areas A and B. Towns designated as Area A receive enormous financial support from the government for social, economic, and education projects, and their residents enjoy numerous tax benefits. More than 500 Jewish towns were classified as Area A, whereas only four small Arab towns were included. Jabareen argued that the governmental decision divided the country in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner, without legislative authorization or clear, written, objective criteria, and should be based on socioeconomic need. The attorney general argued that this decision has been part of the government’s political program since the early years of the state, and is thus legitimate policy. The goal, the attorney general argued, is to disperse the population and to support development towns, border communities, and those settlements that absorb new Jewish immigrants. After eight years of litigation and tens of hearings, in February 2006 an expanded panel of seven Supreme Court justices unanimously decided to cancel the decision ruling that it had a discriminatory effect on Arab citizens of Israel, and that the government does not have the authority to divide the country on this basis without Knesset legislation. This judgment will affect every governmental decision and hinder the executive’s ability to circumvent the rule of law to arbitrarily violate the rights of Arab citizens, especially in the fields of social and economic rights. Following this decision, some Israeli legal scholars argued that this case should be considered as the Brown v. Board of Education of Israel.

A third important case that Jabareen led as a lawyer is the Criminal Case 5196/01, The State of Israel v. Azmi Bishara, et al. ; Criminal Case 1087/02, The State of Israel v. Azmi Bishara (Magistrate Court, Nazareth, 2001–2003); and H.C. 11225/03, MK Azmi Bishara, et al. v. the Attorney General, et al. (Supreme Court of Israel). In these cases Jabareen represented MK Dr. AZMI BISHARA, the head of the National Democratic Assembly Arab political party, on two indictments after his parliamentary immunity was lifted by the Knesset. The Magistrate Court dismissed the first indictment, which charged him under emergency regulations with assisting Arab citizens of Israel to travel to Syria to see refugee relatives through his connections with the Syrian government. The court accepted his argument and ruled in 2003 that MKs are exempt from being prosecuted under these regulations. A second indictment charged MK Bishara with supporting a terrorist organization based on political speeches he made in his capacity as a public representative in which he arguably praised the resistance of Hizbullah against the Israeli army in South Lebanon. The Magistrate Court refused to dismiss the second indictment. Jabareen petitioned the Supreme Court asking to cancel the indictment on the grounds that MK Bishara has parliamentary immunity and must enjoy absolute freedom of political expression. In February 2006, the Supreme Court, in a split 2-1 decision, ruled that MKs have full immunity for political expression, even when they praise terror organizations, but their speech may not support the armed struggle of these groups. The court found that MK Bishara’s speech did not amount to supporting the armed struggle of a terrorist organization, and therefore dismissed the indictment. Some Israeli legal scholars consider this case as one of the foundations for freedom of expression and immunity for parliamentarians.

Jabareen conceptualized the legal strategy and supervised Adalah attorneys on a series of cases brought before the Supreme Court during the Israeli army’s heavy military incursions in the Occupied Territories in 2002. The cases raised many issues of international humanitarian law, including the denial of medical treatment for the sick and wounded; the denial of access of medical personnel; the right to a proper burial for the dead; the demolition of homes in the Jenin refugee camp; the Israeli army’s shelling of Palestinian civilians and civilian targets; the inhumane treatment of one thousand Palestinian detainees held at the Ansar III detention center; and the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields by the Israeli army.

THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE

Jabareen is perceived positively by his professional community. He is considered an expert in constitutional law, comparative constitutional law, civil rights and civil liberties, discrimination, minority rights, political participation, and laws related to terror activities. He is invited to many conferences, symposiums, and faculty workshops at Israeli universities, as well as at academic institutions abroad in which he gives lectures on human rights issues. Jabareen was named by Globes (a leading Israeli economic daily newspaper) in 2000 as one of the ten top lawyers in Israel and as a potential candidate to serve as a justice on the Supreme Court of Israel. That same year he was awarded the Peter Cicchino Award for outstanding advocacy in the public interest at the American University, Washington College of Law. In 1996 he received a New Israel Fund Law Fellowship.

LEGACY

There is no doubt that Jabareen has introduced new legal thinking into the Israeli legal system. He challenged fundamental legal and judicial conceptions and managed to bring change to the dominant patterns of legal philosophy in Israel. His legal activity inspires many young lawyers and several of his cases have become landmarks in the struggle of the Palestinian-Arab community for equal rights in Israel. As it seems for the time being, his legal contribution will certainly continue in the courtroom, as well as in the academic world.

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