Israeli Court Halts Deportation Order For Human Rights Watch Worker

Human Rights Watch organizer Omar Shakir could get deported because Israel says he's promoting a boycott against the nation. Shakir denies ever doing so.

UPDATE: An Israeli court has temporarily blocked a deportation order for the regional director of Human Rights Watch for Israel and Palestine, who was going to be expelled from the nation due to claims over his promoting a boycott of Israel itself.

Omar Shakir, an American citizen working in the region, admitted that he has, in the past, promoted boycotts against Israel. However, he promoted those boycotts before he took up his current position with HRW.

Israel has, in the past, prevented individuals from entering their nation. But this would have been the first instance of the country revoking a visa for an individual while they were currently doing work after already being allowed in.

The Jerusalem District Court, which issued the injunction, has yet to make a final ruling on whether Shakir can be deported or not. Their order preventing the government from doing so, however, is the right action to take, allowing all of the facts to be gathered before a harmful action against Shakir can be made, justly or not.

Israel is expelling a human rights worker from the nation, claiming he is promoting a boycott of the country.

After being refused entry into Israel last year, after which the nation granted him a one-year work visa, Omar Shakir, an organizer with Human Rights Watch, tweeted out to his followers that the Israeli government is now deporting him over the allegations.

“Israel has ordered me deported after compiling 7-pg intel dossier on me,” Shakir wrote.

Shakir, who is a United States citizen of Iraqi descent, denies ever promoting a boycott of the nation of any kind.

“I have not called for any form of boycott of Israel during my time at Human Rights Watch and the interior ministry acknowledged this in its letter to me ... in which they informed me of their decision to deny an extension to my work visa,” Shakir said.

The organization that Shakir works for is backing his claim and suggesting it has nothing to do with calls for a boycott at all.

“This is not about Shakir, but rather about muzzling Human Rights Watch and shutting down criticism of Israel’s rights record,” HRW Program Director Iain Levine said in a statement.

Indeed, Israel has long-justified its disregard for human rights using questionable means, including once making the dubious claim they had the right to ignore international law because they were at war with Palestine.

Ironically, the calls to boycott Israel may become exacerbated because of the very action to remove Shakir from the nation in the first place. Government leaders in Israel must tread carefully, while simultaneously rededicating themselves to treating Palestinians fairly in the future.

If their plans don’t include ways to improve their actions, then there will undoubtedly be more calls for boycotts against the nation instead. In short, human rights of all humans must be respected.

Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

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