After a legal battle, Israel’s High Court of Justice ordered Israeli TV stations to air an ad about human rights. The ad was produced by NIF’s flagship grantee, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), ahead of International Human Rights Day in December.
We won! After a long legal battle, our ad that was disqualified will be broadcasted!
Listen to this story – about a year ago, in honor of Human Rights Week, we asked the television channels to broadcast an ad that we produced.
The video features a few celebrities who talk about what human rights mean to them: Ethiopian-born model Titi Aynaw speaks up against discrimination, actor Adir Steiner talks about equal rights for the LGBTQ community, actress Galit Guttman demands equal rights for women, and Israeli Arab singer-songwriter Mira Awad talks about the right to speak Arabic in the public sphere.
It turns out that today in Israel, the sentence “even if I’m gay,”is unacceptable for broadcast because it is “controversial.” The sentences “the right to speak Arabic without fear” and “No equality, no liberation, no dignity” were also deemed unacceptable. These dangerous sentences led the Second Authority for television and radio to reject the video we wanted to broadcast during Human Rights Week.
Today, the High Court of Justice agreed to defend the freedom of expression and accepted our argument that it is inconceivable that a message promoting human rights is considered controversial in a democratic state. The High Court of Justice agreed that sentences such as “the right to speak Arabic without fear” and “the right to love, even if I am gay,” should not be disqualified. However, we were disappointed to see that the High Court thinks that the word “to marry” in the context of same-sex couples is still controversial.
In Israel in 2017, statements such as the right to equality, the right to speak in Arabic in public and the right to same sex marriages cannot be disputed, and we will continue to fight for precisely that!
Posted by Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) on Wednesday, September 13, 2017
ACRI sought to screen the ad on Israel’s Channel 2 and 10 TV stations.
The public service ad was screened several times by Channel 2 before the Second Television and Radio Authority, the regulator for commercial TV in Israel, banned the ad on the grounds that it was “controversial.”
ACRI petitioned the High Court against the disqualification, arguing that in a democratic country such sentences as “the right to speak Arabic without being afraid” and “the right to love, even if I’m gay” should not be considered “controversial”.
The video features Israeli celebrities who talk about what human rights means to them including an Ethiopian-born model who speaks out against discrimination, an actor who talks about equal rights for the LGBTQ community, an actress who demands equal rights for women. Mira Awad, an Israeli-Arab singer, also stands up for the right to speak Arabic in public places.
ACRI Legal Advisor Dan Yakir said, “By accepting ACRI’s petition, the High Court has not only defended ACRI’s freedom of expression to present its position on television, but it has also defended the public’s right to be exposed to the message of human rights for all humans.”
In handing down the High Court’s decision Justice Anat Baron stressed, “We cannot accept the position that a public service announcement that promotes human rights will constitute a controversial social and political message; recognition of and commitment to human rights are inherently related to the very existence of a democratic society; this is certainly the case in the reality in which we live.”
The ruling, however, was not a complete victory. The High Court ruling did not bar the regulating body from banning discussion of gay marriage.