2019 Fellowship: Adalah - The Center for Arab Minority Rights

Joshua Eisen

2019 IHRP Fellow Joshua EisenJoshua Eisen. Credit: Rebecca Dickey.

What year are you in?

Which organization did you work for, and in which city and country?
I worked for Adalah - The Center for Arab Minority Rights in Haifa, Israel-Palestine.

What were the highlights of your fellowship?
Conducting legal research in support of litigation dealing with everything from freedom of movement to free speech. Helping lead tours with Adalah's advocacy department to unrecognized Bedouin communities in the Naqab-Negev Desert. 

What were some of the challenges that you faced this summer?
The main challenge I faced was language-barriers. While Adalah definitely needed help conducting English-language legal research, the fact that I didn't speak Arabic or Hebrew meant that I often couldn't work on some of the most interesting and challenging cases. The fact that much of Adalah's day-to-day business is conducted in Arabic also left me feeling frustrated with my lack of language skills, although I should stress that people went out of their way to communicate in English when I was around.

What were some of your first impressions of the country/city where you completed your fellowship? How/Did these impressions change over time?
At first Haifa was an extremely confusing city. It's built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, and is divided into a bunch of distinct neighbourhoods, each with its own unique vibe and community. It took me a while to figure out where everything was and where I fit in. Haifa is also a fairly segregated city, which is normal for Israel but seemed unfortunate to me as an outsider. I ended up spending a lot of time on Masada Street, a laid back area with lots of cafes and bars that attracts a mix of young Jews and Palestinians.

Share anything interesting about your experience (best meal, favourite memory, etc.) 
One of my most memorable experiences was going on a political tour of the old city of Jerusalem with Green Olive Tours. It was fascinating (and disturbing) to learn how the religious right in Israel is buying up Palestinian homes in an attempt to "judaize" the Old City. Also, amazing hummus at Abu Hassan in Jaffa.

What advice do you have for students hoping to be an IHRP fellow next year?
Make sure you put a lot of thought into choosing an organization that is working on something you are passionate about. While much of the work I did was interesting and engaging, there was also some menial stuff; if I wasn't passionate about the issues, I might have gotten a little frustrated.