About

About Bizchut

Bizchut, The Israeli Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities works to enable people with physical, intellectual, sensory, mental and learning disabilities to participate as fully and independently as possible in the life of the mainstream community. The name “Bizchut” (by right) reflects our belief that all people are entitled to the same rights and that the needs of people with disabilities must be met on the basis of entitlement rather than from a charity-based perspective.

Bizchut was founded in 1992 by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and shortly after became an independent organization. Since then, Bizchut has become the main the address in Israel for individuals whose rights have been violated in light of disability, their family members, professionals and organizations working in the field and decision makers in the Knesset and government. Bizchut represents people across the entire spectrum of disabilities, regardless of age, gender, ethnic or religious background.

According to recent research 16.9% of the population of Israel define themselves as having some kind of disability while the general estimate around the world is 10% of the population. Despite their presence as a significant minority, people with disabilities still suffer from discrimination and deprivation in many areas of life. We at Bizchut are striving to remove the physical and social barriers that stand in the way of people with disabilities in Israel. We aspire to ensure equal rights, full inclusion and participation in society in education, employment, housing, health and leisure services and access and to raise public awareness of the rights and needs of people with disabilities.

Areas of Activity

Inclusive education and ensuring the rights of children of special needs; housing in the community; employment for people with disabilities; making investigative and legal procedures accessible to people with intellectual and mental disabilities; promoting the rights of people with mental disabilities and widespread activity in the Arab community – all these are areas in which we are active at the moment. Our comprehensive hotline provides information, personalized guidance, consultation, legal advice and representation in all these areas and more.

How Bizchut Works

Bizchut uses a combination of legal activity, community outreach and educational initiatives to address issues central in the lives of people with disabilities and of us all. Our activities include:
• Promoting policy and legislation that ensure equal rights for people with disabilities
• Providing legal representation, including potentially precedent setting cases
• Operating hotlines that give information, guidance and representation in Hebrew and Arabic in more than 2,000 cases every year
• Empowerment workshops for people with disabilities and family members
• Training seminars to professionals working with people with disabilities
• Lectures to professionals, other organizations and the general public
• Representing the rights of people with disabilities in public forums
Our activity is carried out by our skilled and professional staff, committed volunteers and students.

Milestones in our Activity

Bizchut’s most significant achievements in our struggle to promote equal rights for people with all disabilities include:
The Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law (1998) that began its life as a draft law drafted by Bizchut and continued as a government sponsored bill represents a milestone of Israeli legislation. This was the first time that Israeli law recognized the basic rights of people with disabilities to dignity and equality. The law establishes the right of people with disabilities to equality in employment and to accessible public transportation, and laid the foundation for the establishment of the Commission for Equal Rights of People with Disabilities.

Enactment of the Accessibility Chapter of the Equal Rights Law in 2005 instigated a real revolution by obligating the authorities, the government and private agencies to ensure that every public place and service provided to the public is accessible to people with physical, intellectual, sensory or mental disabilities. Enactment of all original chapters of the law has not yet been completed and we anticipate additional legislation in years to come.
Making polling stations accessible: Thousands of people with disabilities were able to vote for the first time in general elections held in Israel in 1999 thanks to a petition submitted to the High Court of Justice by Bizchut in the name of four individuals with mobility impairment who use wheelchairs. As a result of the petition, a law that establishes the rights of people with disabilities to vote at any accessible polling station was passed by the Knesset.
Accessible Urban Public Transportation: In light of a petition submitted to the High Court of Justice under the Equal Rights for People with Disabilities Law, the Minister of Transportation announced that all urban buses brought into service from 2001 would be fitted with ramps accessible to people who use wheelchairs.
Inclusive Education: An amendment to the Special Education Law promoted by Bizchut and passed in 2003 established that every child with a disability has the right to receive assistance that will enable them to learn in the regular school system. This amendment to the law together with a number of petitions to the High Court of Justice in light of the law enable children with special needs to be included in mainstream frameworks and provide for funding for assistance services similar to resources they would have received in a segregated framework.
Investigation and Testimony Procedures for People with Disabilities Law: This law promoted by Bizchut, the first of its kind in the world was enacted in parallel with and in light of experience gained through a Bizchut project that provides crime victims and suspects with intellectual or mental disabilities with adaptations that enable them to take part in investigative procedures and to give testimony in court.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Bizchut played an active role in the drafting of this important document and was instrumental in bringing about Israel’s signing of this UN Convention on the rights of people with disabilities. The Convention was approved by the UN General Council in December 2006. The State of Israel signed the Convention in March 2007 but has not yet ratified it. Bizchut staff made a significant contribution to the drafting of the clause that deals with making judicial procedures accessible to people with disabilities, making our mark in the international disability rights arena around the world.
Children Confined at Home are Also Entitled to Education: Following a petition submitted by Bizchut in 2009, children suffering from serious illnesses who are confined at home are also entitled to teaching hours equal to the hours given to children studying in the special education framework. The petition, in the name of one specific child from Hadera, brought about a policy change that impacts on approximately 2,000 children every year.

Organizational Structure

The Board of Trustees

Bizchut is managed by a board of trustees comprised of people with and without disability, parents of children with disabilities and professionals. The board defines policy directions of the organization, establishes its objectives and discusses fundamental questions concerning activity. All board members carry out this role in a voluntary capacity.

Our board members are:

Ofer Dahari: Ofer joined Bizchut’s board in 2006. He lives in Jerusalem and manages the community based assisted housing frameworks for people with disabilities run by Shekel (Community Service for People with Special Needs). Ofer has an M.A. in clinical psychology, uses a wheelchair and is a sports enthusiast.

Jonathan Gillis

Mandy Leighton Bellichach: Mandy has been a member of Bizchut’s board since 2002 and an active volunteer in the organization for more than 12 years. In the past Mandy lobbied for disability rights legislation promoted by Bizchut in the Knesset. In 2004 she established the Israeli Society for Fighting Pain of which she is chairperson. The Association works to advance the interests of chronic pain sufferers by raising awareness of chronic pain as a disease in its own right, to support chronic pain sufferers through a range of services and to improve the quality and accessible of services. She is one of the founders of Partnership for Safer Healthcare that works to encourage partnership patients and those treating them as a means of promoting safer and more appropriate healthcare. She is also on the Public Council of the Social Economy Academy. In 2008 Mandy was awarded the Zusman Prize for Voluntarism and Philanthropy. Mandy uses a wheelchair and lives with severe chronic pain all over her body. She lives in Jerusalem with her husband and young daughter.

Ari Paltiel: Ari was born in Montreal, Canada in 1950 and after many stages finally moved to Israel at the end of the seventies after studying at Ottawa and Oxford Universities in Canada and England respectively. He is among the founders of Bizchut, at that time representing the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and is responsible for suggesting the name Bizchut to the new organization. Ari is a Senior Deputy Department Director at the Central Bureau of Statistics and lectures on demography at the Hebrew University. He is also on the board of Ir Amim and enjoys sailing.

Mossi Raz: Mossi has been the chairperson of Bizchut since July 2010. An accountant and economist by profession, he is one of the founders of the radio station “All for Peace” which he now runs. Mossi is a former member of Knesset. He also served as the General Secretary of Peace Now and Deputy Director of Givat Haviva. Today he serves as the chairperson of the Israeli Forum for Ecological Art and the chairperson of Life and Environment – an umbrella organization for environmental groups. He is also on the board of Transportation Today and Tomorrow and the Israeli Forum for Environmental Justice, Peace Now and chairperson of the Meretz’s board and the Israel-Syria Peace Society.

Yehoshua Schoffman: Yehoshua was the Legal Counsel of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel when Bizchut was founded. He subsequently joined the civil service serving, among other positions, as Deputy Attorney General (Legislation). With his retirement from the Ministry of Justice in 2009 he joined Bizchut’s board. Today he is the chairperson of the Privacy Protection Council and on the board of Kol Zchut (Every Right), an internet initiative that publishes information about rights for Israelis.

Rivkah Sneh: Rivkah has been a member of Bizchut’s board since the founding of the organization. As the mother of a child with Down Syndrome she was among the founders of “Yated, Children with Down Syndrome” and also serves on their board of trustees. Yated was responsible for promoting the Special Education Law and National Insurance benefits for children with disabilities. Rivkah is also the chairperson of Yated Jerusalem and sits on the board of Akim Jerusalem. As a journalist she worked in the past as a senior director on Channel 1 of the Israel Broadcasting Authority and wrote a column in a local newspaper. Today she reviews books for Kol Yisrael and a column for “Makor Rishon”.

Doron Tamir: Doron Tamir became a lawyer in 1992 and has been a partner in the law firm Yigal Arnon and Co since 1997. Doron specializes in representing public and private entities in infrastructure projects and international tenders and has written legal articles and books on the issues tender law and case law for bills of exchange. Doron is a member of the Jerusalem District Committee of the Israel Bar Association and chairman of the Ethics Committee of the Jerusalem District. He has served on Bizchut’s board since 2002 and is the head of the organization’s Finance Committee and an active member of its Legal Forum. Doron lives in Mevasseret Zion and is married with three children.

Vered Windman: Vered is the Legal Counsel for the National Council for the Child and manages the Council’s Center for the Child and the Law. She is an external teacher in the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare at the Hebrew University and at the Radzyner School of Law at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. Vered has an M.A. in law from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and wrote her thesis was on compensation to crime victims as part of the criminal process. Vered represents the National Council for the Child on Bizchut’s board which she joined in 2005.

The Staff

Daud Alyan: Fieldworker, East Jerusalem Project daud@bizchut.org.il
Yakira Avrch: Coordinator, Mental Health Project yakira@bizchut.org.il
Sameh Aweadah: Coordinator , Mental Health Project sameh@bizchut.org.il
Samer Badawi: Director, East Jerusalem Project samer@bizchut.org.il
Suzanne Cannon: Director of Resource Development suzanne@bizchut.org.il
Gali Cochavi Ronen: Lawyer gali@bizchut.org.il
Oren Ganor: Spokesperson oren@bizchut.org.il
Abir Joubran Dakwar: Lawyer on a scholarship from the New Israel Fund abir@bizchut.org.il
Victor Lederfarb: Finance Director victor@acri.org.il
Naama Lerner: Director of Community Outreach Department naamalerner@bizchut.org.il
Milka Mozes-Shavit: Coordinator of Human Rights Hotline mail@bizchut.org.il
Sharon Primor: Legal Counsel and Director of Legal Department sharonp@bizchut.org.il
Idit Saragusti: Director, Mental Health Project idit@bizchut.org.il
Esther Sivan: Executive Director esther@bizchut.org.il
Yotam Tolub: Lawyer yotamt@bizchut.org.il
Tsivia Wajsbarg: Coordinator of project Making Medical Services Accessible, workshops and lectures tsivia@bizchut.org.il

How can you support Bizchut?

Bizchut is supported by donations from individuals, foundations and businesses in Israel and abroad. Bizchut does not accept government funds in order to maintain our position as an independent non-profit organization.

Please support our efforts to promote and protect equal rights for people with disabilities by making a contribution towards our work.

Donations within Israel
Please send a check payable to Bizchut to: Bizchut, 3 Kanfei Nesharim Street, Jerusalem 9546406.
Donations can also be made on-line at
https://israelgives.org/custom/makedonation/cart?MakeDonation=1&AmutaGovId=580303824
Please note that within Israel donations are recognized under clause 46 of the income tax regulations.

We invite you to sign up to “round-up” and every time you use your credit card (Leumi Card, Isracard and American Express) any odd figure will get rounded up to the next shekel and the tiny extra bit will reach Bizchut as a donation.
http://www.round-up.org.il/?categoryId=37781&itemId=69968
This is another way for you to invest in activity you believe in!

Donations from outside Israel
Tax-exempt donations may be made from outside Israel through the New Israel Fund, PEF or on-line through Israel Gives. Checks should be made payable to the appropriate fund, marked as donor-advised to Bizchut and sent to:
PEF Endowment Funds
317 Madison Ave, Suite 607, New York, NY 10017, USA

The New Israel Fund (US)
330 Seventh Avenue, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001, USA

The New Israel Fund (UK)
26 Enford Street, London W1H 2DD< England

On-line donations can be made in NIS, US dollars or sterling through
https://israelgives.org/custom/makedonation/cart?MakeDonation=1&AmutaGovId=580303824

Bizchut has been awarded Midat Hashkifut (Measure of Transparency) by Midot, an award given to organizations that demonstrate openness to the public and publish information about their activity and business practices.