30th Anniversary of the Herman Schwartz Israel Human Rights Fellowship

This year marked the 30th Anniversary of the U.S./Israel Human Rights Law Fellowship. The event was celebrated in September with the renaming of the fellowship in honor of its creator, Professor Herman Schwartz.

Herman Schwartz and family
Professor Schwartz with his wife, Mary Schwartz, and daughter, Susan Levin.

The Israel Human Rights Law Fellowship was founded by Herman Schwartz in 1984 as a joint initiative between AUWCL and the New Israel Fund (NIF). Since its founding, the Fellowship has been the major force in the establishment of human rights in Israel. It has been described as being “one of the two ‘crucial decisions [that] changed the face of public law in Israel." Passionate and skillful, the more than sixty human rights Fellows have created numerous new organizations and movements, often based on their experiences interning in the United States. These organizations have focused on the rights of Palestinians, women, the elderly, people with disabilities, the rights of the accused, and many others. They have become judges and members of the Knesset, and have held many other important positions. They have also helped change legal education in Israel. The program has served as a model for similar human rights training programs in Eastern Europe and Africa.

A New Israel Fund committee of Israeli lawyers selects two Israeli attorneys each year, one Palestinian and one Jewish, to come to AUWCL to participate in an intensive academic and professional experience earning a Masters in Law with a specialization in Human Rights. They normally have two different internships with American public interest groups such as: the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Prison Project, Human Rights Watch, and many other major human rights groups. The following year the Fellows are placed in a paid internship with an Israeli public interest organization such as NIF’s training center, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah, the leading Palestinian human rights organization, which was also founded by a Fellow.

For more information about the Herman Schwartz Israel Human Rights Law Fellowship please see the 25th anniversary publication: Raising the Bar: Twenty-Five Years of Strengthening Human Rights in Israel available from the AUWCL Center on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.