2009 Oak Fellow: Hadas Ziv

Hadas Ziv​

“It is a memory that I keep with me when I want to get perspective. I say, ‘Let’s breathe and think about Maine,’ because really it’s a marvelous place.”

The Oak Institute for Human Rights at Colby enthusiastically welcomed Hadas Ziv of Israel as our 2009 Oak Fellow. Ms. Ziv is the Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel). Born in Israel to parents of Jewish and Christian faith, Ms. Ziv has worked with PHR-Israel for 14 years. She began work at the organization in 1995 as an Intervention Coordinator where she received appeals from Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) whose right to health had been violated by Israeli practices. From 1998 to 2004, she served as Director of Projects at PHR-Israel, when the organization led advocacy campaigns for – among others issues – the right to health for residents in unrecognized Bedouin villages; the prevention of deportation of migrant families of chronically ill children; the prevention of deportation of refugees, children, and other migrants from Tel Aviv; prevention of torture; access to health care for Palestinians under the Israeli closure system in the OPT; and the right to health for Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who were threatened with deportation. She was promoted to Executive Director of PHR-Israel in 2004. As such, she is responsible for guiding the mission of PHR-Israel and managing a full-time staff of 17 and over 1,500 members.

Even as Executive Director, Ms. Ziv remained on the front line of human rights work, leading her team in their campaigns including, but not limited to: helping Palestinians under siege in Gaza to gain access to health care; the promotion of health rights of Palestinian women married to Israelis, but denied civil status; the promotion of the rights of migrants living with HIV/AIDS in Israel without health insurance; and perhaps most successful, a campaign to pressure the Israeli Health Ministry to support health care provision for the influx of refugees and migrants from African conflict zones seeking asylum in Israel. Hadas, her husband Sani, and their three children joined the Colby Community for the fall of 2009 as the Oak Fellow.

Upon her return to Israel, she re-entered the field to work as a public outreach and ethics committee director rather than maintaining her role as executive director. According to Ziv, “I started to work much more on public outreach education and medical ethics,” she said. The new position entails working with students in medical fields to make human rights part of their professional practice, which is resonant with her experience with students at Colby.

In Israel, the lingering discussion is about who is entitled to receive healthcare from the government, she said. The organization helps treat those who have trouble accessing healthcare, and provides aid for Palestinians who need to travel to Israeli territory for treatment, and finds volunteer doctors to treat asylum seekers who have no resources. “It’s always like a jigsaw,” Ziv said. “You have to take charity from here and there.”

In hard times, she looks back on her Colby experience. “It is a memory that I keep with me when I want to get perspective,” she said. “I say, ‘Let’s breathe and think about Maine,’ because really it’s a marvelous place.

PHR-Israel’s Work

Healthcare Conditions in Israel and the Occupied Territories

Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and Medical Ethics