|Written by Ruby Ong|
The Israel-U.S. Civil Liberties Law Program, established by NIF in 1984, was described by the Israeli daily Ha’aretz as one of the “[t]wo crucial decisions [that] have changed the face of public law in Israel.” The fellowship now has more than 50 graduates. These alumni form the core of the civil rights bar in Israel – as academics, founders and leaders of non-profit organizations, litigators, public defenders and judges. Fellowship alumni have successfully argued dozens of landmark cases, affected legislation, and shaped public policies that have changed the course of Israeli human rights, environmental and disabilities law, and made lasting contributions to religious freedom and pluralism in Israel.
Cosponsored by the Washington College of Law at American University in Washington, D.C., the Law Program offers two years of academic and professional experience to Israeli lawyers specializing in civil rights advocacy. The program's hallmark is the intensive exposure it provides to both the theory and practice of civil rights law.
Participating attorneys spend one year in the United States, obtaining a Master's in Civil Rights Law (LL.M.) and serving internships with American public interest groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights’ Watch, Council on American Islamic Relations, Children's Defense Fund and Mental Health Law Project. The Law Fellows then return to Israel and, with a stipend from the New Israel Fund, they spend their second full year interning with Israeli social change organizations. Recent fellows have interned at a wide range of organizations, including: Adalah - the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights; ACRI - the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Itach-Maaki - Woman Lawyers for Social Justice, IRAC - the Israel Religious Action Center, SHATIL - NIF’s own training center, and others.