Human rights charity faces fight for survival

By Jessica Elgot, March 3, 2011
Maya Jaffe and Simone Abel

Maya Jaffe and Simone Abel

The co-chair of human rights charity René Cassin has warned that its "very survival" is at stake.

Maya Jaffe told supporters at its human rights gala: "It would be a terrible shame for the Jewish community if we were to disappear. These are challenging times for human rights and we need Jewish values and Jewish voices to educate and challenge people on these issues."

Ms Jaffe added that new René Cassin director Simone Abel had implemented "significant changes to ensure René Cassin continues to grow".

A former lawyer for Human Rights Watch in New York, Ms Abel said she had taken a "leap of faith" coming to René Cassin, but she believed in having a Jewish voice on human rights issues. Raising the profile of the charity both inside and outside the community would be her focus.

As well as continuing human rights education work in Jewish schools, the charity is launching a "toolkit" for Jewish human rights activists. It has developed a Haggadah supplement for Pesach, to discuss how slavery is an issue, even in developed countries. René Cassin, which does not focus on Israel, also intends to be active on discrimination issues facing gypsies and asylum seekers.

The charity's trustees declined to elaborate on its finances.

Last updated: 2:16pm, March 3 2011