On April 17, 2020 the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP) hosted a webinar entitled “Surveillance and the Fight Against COVID-19 in Israel and Around the World” featuring Sharon Abraham-Weiss (Association for Civil Rights in Israel) and Marwa Fatafta (Access Now), and Nadim Nashif (7amleh) in conversation with FMEP non-resident fellow Peter Beinart. Panelists discussed new surveillance programs implemented by the Israeli government w aimed at tracking the spread of the spread of COVID-19 throughout Israel. While some of these techniques had previously been used by the Israeli military against Palestinians, the public introduction of such invasive and widespread domestic surveillance is raising global concerns regarding its future implications for privacy – in Israel and in democratic countries that may emulate Israeli policies. In parallel, and pre-dating the COVID-19 crisis, concern continues to grow about the role of Israeli companies in the development of new surveillance technologies – often based on tools developed by the Israeli military and tested on Palestinians in occupied territory — that in the hands of both governmental or private actors threaten privacy, political organizing, activism, and protest.
Further resources on these topics can be found below.
- ACRI website: https://www.english.acri.org.il/
- 7maleh website: https://7amleh.org/
- Access Now website: https://www.accessnow.org/
- ACRI: “Corona and Human Rights: What is ACRI Doing?“
- Access Now Report: Recommendations on Privacy and Data Protection in the Fight against COVID-19
- Joint statements of civil societies: States use of digital surveillance technologies to fight pandemic must respect human rights
Attorney Sharon Abraham-Weiss took the helm of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) in May 2014. Sharon brings a wealth of experience to the job, including 7 years as staff attorney at ACRI (2001-2008). Before returning to ACRI Sharon served as the Tel Aviv and Central Israel Region Equal Employment Opportunity Commissioner (2009 – 2014). Sharon was among the founders and a board member of “Itach-Maaki – Women lawyers for social justice.” In 2005, she was featured in “The Marker” newspaper as one of the top 10 most influential people working for social change in Israel. In May 2014 she was featured in the “Ha’Aretz” newspaper as one of 66 prominent women leaders in Israel. Sharon holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School where she was a Wexner fellow, an LL.M magna cum laude from Tel Aviv University, and LL.B and B.Sc degrees from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
Marwa Fatafta leads Access Now’s work on digital rights in the Middle East and North Africa region as the MENA Policy Manager. She is a policy analyst at Al-Shabaka, The Palestinian Policy Network working on questions of leadership, governance and accountability, and an advisory board member of 7amleh: The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media. Before joining Access Now, Marwa worked as a MENA Regional Advisor at Transparency International Secretariat in Berlin, and previously as a Communications Manager at the British Consulate in Jerusalem. She was a Fulbright scholar and holds an MA in International Relations from Syracuse University and MA in Development and Governance from the University of Duisburg-Essen.
Nadim Nashif is the executive director and co-founder of 7amleh: The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media. Nadim is a committed Digital Rights Defender and long time community organizer, who has worked on youth and community development issues for over 20 years. Nadim founded and previously served as director of Baladna, The Association for Arab Youth. He founded and coordinated the youth wing of the Balad political party before becoming Director at the Committee for Educational Guidance for Arab students. He is also the co-founder of Wusol Digital Academy, a digital marketing educational center.
Peter Beinart is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Foundation for Middle East Peace. He is also a Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York, a Contributor to The Atlantic, an Editor-at-Large at Jewish Currents, and a CNN Political Commentator.