Israel to deport human rights official over BDS activities

A Human Rights Watch activist is being deported from Israel over his alleged anti-Israel boycott activity. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Israel is deporting the Human Rights Watch (HRW) regional director, known as an anti-Israel activist, who was denied entry to the country earlier last year, but was granted a work visa after that battle.

On Tuesday, Omar Shakir was given 14 days to leave the country by Israeli authorities after being accused of involvement in the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, a charge he denies.

Israeli authorities based the decision on a seven-page dossier it compiled on Shakir’s activities spanning over a decade. HRW alleges that almost all of these activities predate his HRW employment.

Interior Minister Arieh Deri charged Shakir with being a “boycott activist” and said he “will act to expel people like this from the country” with all means at his disposal.

The decision comes a year after Shakir was granted a work permit by the Interior Ministry, after it initially refused to issue the document.

Human Rights Watch applied in January to extend Shakir’s work visa, which was due to expire on March 31. On March 29, the Interior Ministry extended the visa for a month pending a decision on revocation.

The May 7 letter notes that the decision “does not constitute a principled or sweeping refusal for the organization to employ a foreign expert,” but rather relates specifically to Shakir.

Iain Levine, deputy executive director for program at HRW charged that the Israeli move was “not about Shakir, but rather about muzzling Human Rights Watch and shutting down criticism of Israel’s rights record.”

HRW called on Israeli authorities to reverse the decision. “Human Rights Watch stands fully behind Shakir and has retained counsel to challenge the decision before an Israeli court,” the organization stated.

This is the first time in HRW history that Israel is deporting one of their activists.

Shakir, a US citizen of Iraqi descent, is a consistent supporter of a binational one-state framework in Israel and is an advocate for BDS tactics, fitting the longstanding HRW practice of hiring anti-Israel activists to serve in key positions relating to Israel.

On Youtube, Shakir can be seen calling Israel an apartheid state and promoting anti-Israel boycotts.

Human Rights Watch has published a series of reports that were highly critical of Israel and biased against it, especially after wars or periods of heightened violence with Palestinian terrorists. For instance, it accused Israel of committing war crimes during fighting with Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. Israel rejected the findings of that report.

In August 2016, Israel established an inter-ministerial team tasked with deporting anti-Israel activists who come to the Jewish State for the purpose of harming the country. The team also works to prevent the future entry of activists who operate for the BDS movement.