Oak Fellow Advocates for Marginalized Residents in Israel


By Jenny Chen '12

Hadas ZivIt was 1967. Hadas Ziv was 4 when the Six-Day War between Israel and Jordan, Syria, and Egypt broke out. “I remember going through an old market in Palestine and seeing the Palestinians,” Ziv said. “I told my mom, ‘They don’t want to see me. We are not wanted.’” But her mother dismissed Ziv’s worries and told her that the Israelis helped the Palestinian economy. Ziv didn’t buy it.

And as Colby’s 2009 Oak Fellow for International Human Rights, she still doesn’t. Now 42, Ziv is executive director of the nonprofit Physicians for Human Rights-Israel. The organization provides health care to marginalized people in Israel, including Palestinian refugees and Arab Bedouins, under the organization’s founding principle that every resident of Israel has a fundamental right to health.

In a country with so much political history, the work Ziv does is inevitably political. When it comes to the Israeli occupation, the soft-spoken crusader is not one to mince words. “The Israeli occupation is unjust,” she said. “When we victimize someone it takes a toll on the victimizer. ... We are losing solidarity in Israel. ... We control, we oppress, and still we don’t have the society we want.”

The daughter of a Christian father and a Jewish mother, Ziv has worked for PHR-Israel for 14 years. Still, she’s not one to romanticize her work. “You can’t change the world,” she said. “You can only make the right choices personally. ... When you have hope and it’s taken away from you, you begin
to despair.”

Jenny Chen ’12
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