High Court Reverses Ban on Human Rights Ad

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.

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.

October 2017