Israel Supreme Court expels human rights activist

Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch Israel and Palestine Director, looks up before his hearing at Israel’s Supreme Court in Jerusalem, Sep 24, 2019. (photo: Ammar Awad / Reuters)
The government’s real motivation was to hamper Human Rights Watch activities in the country. Previously, Shakir had been forced to leave Egypt and Syria over his human rights work, and was denied an entry visa to Bahrain.

By Steve Hendrix and Ruth Eglash | The Washington Post | Nov 5, 2019

‘The Supreme Court has effectively declared that free expression in Israel does not include completely mainstream advocacy for Palestinian rights. If the government now deports a Human Rights Watch’s researcher for asking businesses to respect rights as we do across the world, there’s no telling whom it will throw out next.’
— Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch executive director

Israel’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the government could expel the head of Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine office after accusing him of supporting boycotts against the country.

The ruling represents the likely culmination of the protracted effort to remove Omar Shakir, a US citizen, and marks an escalation in Israel’s determination to prevent critics from operating in the country under new laws that equate support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) with challenging Israel’s right to exist.

Others have been denied entry visas under the laws, including two US congresswomen in August, but Shakir, who first had his work permit revoked in May 2018, would be the first to be expelled. He has 20 days to leave the country. . . .

Shakir told The Washington Post the government had mined social media postings from his days at Stanford University to portray him as a BDS activist. In his four years as an employee of Human Rights Watch, he said neither he nor the organization have advocated for boycotts against Israel or companies doing business here. They do call on companies, including Airbnb, not to operate in Israeli settlements, which they characterize as violating international humanitarian law.

Read the full article here →