Israel: Anat Biletzki

For the past years I have been engaged in the effort to intertwine philosophy with politics, gradually drawing the desired idealism closer to the existing realism.

— Anat Biletzki

Professor Anat Biletzki is a leading human rights activist. She is chairperson of the board of the B'Tselem and has been involved in peace-building projects in Israel for over 25 years. She stands firm in her uncompromising defense of Palestinian human rights and desire to educate the Israeli public to respect human rights. Biletzki's academic and public work is intertwined to mobilize and accompany the constant commitment to these pursuits.

Professor Biletzki was voted chairperson of the board of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, a few months after the start of the current Intifada (Palestinian Uprising). A steep deterioration in human rights was accompanied by a polarization of Israeli and Palestinian societies, increasing support among Israelis for harsh measures against the Palestinians and increasing hostility towards anything relating to human rights. This reality posed - and still poses - a great challenge to B’Tselem and its goal of protecting human rights and generating any sort of commitment to human rights in Israeli societies. The board of B’Tselem views these agendas as crucial for progress in developing a climate conducive to peace. In this context of furthering any activity that will promote peace, not only via human rights, Biletzki has also been vocal in the academic arena, working with faculties at Tel Aviv University to raise anti-occupation voices on campus. Several years of such work have now brought about a change in students’ attitudes, with a new Coalition of Anti-Occupation Student Movements becoming active in these very issues. Since B’Tselem serves as a model for professional human rights research and documentation, other organizations look to it for trustworthy and reliable information. In her educational endeavors the B’Tselem mouthpiece has assisted in furthering human rights awareness in universities in Israel. Several symposia, conferences and workshops have taken place during the past few years, all dealing with human rights and the consequences of the occupation. As chairperson of B’Tselem, Biletzki views herself as representing the organization in all contexts and all circumstances.

The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories (B'Tselem)