Hanny Ben Israel
After two years as a human rights lawyer in Israel advocating for migrant workers, Hanny Ben Israel wanted to pause and reflect on her work.
“Sometimes as a practitioner, you can miss the broader issues,” she said.
The Human Rights Fellowship at Columbia Law School was “a wonderful opportunity” to take that pause, she said.
Kav LaOved (“Worker’s Hotline”), the nongovernmental organization where Hanny works in Israel, provides legal services to migrant workers, Palestinian workers from the Occupied Territories and low-paid Israelis. At Columbia, she researched guest worker programs with Professor Mark Barenberg, comparing the Israeli and American approaches, lessons she will bring back to Kav LaOved. She also interned with the Legal Aid Society where she assisted in the representation of immigrants facing deportation.
She observed striking parallels between the stories of her clients in New York and those at home in Israel. Whether Nepalese “guest workers” in Israel or Cubans who came to the United States on the Mariel Boatlift, “The narrative of immigration, this desire to strike better luck somewhere else, has a universal quality,” Hanny said.
While Hanny loves New York City, the year away gave her greater perspective into life as an outsider.
“It was interesting to think about immigration law while being something of an immigrant myself,” she said. “I am heartbroken about leaving New York. It’s been a most extraordinary and rewarding year.”