First International Human Rights Observer Expelled Under BDS Law Leaves Israel

Omar Shakir will remain in his job as Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine director even after he is deported from Israel, but will continue doing his work from a neighboring country, the organization has decided.

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 50

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 50Haaretz

Shakir will leave Israel on Monday, about a year and a half after deportation proceedings against him began. He will be the first human rights representative ever deported from Israel for promoting anti-Israel boycotts.

The Supreme Court recently upheld the government’s decision not to renew Shakir's work visa because of his support for such boycotts, and rejected his request to stall his deportation until the court rules whether a hearing with an expanded panel of judges is held to discuss his expulsion. 

Nevertheless, HRW has decided to keep Shakir in his job, which involves monitoring human rights violations in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Thus the deportation won’t prevent him from continuing to file reports on behalf of one of the world’s largest and most influential human rights organizations. He will be based in another HRW office in the region, most likely in Jordan.

Moreover, in the 10 days following Shakir’s deportation, he will be briefing the European Parliament in Brussels and meeting with government officials in Sweden, Denmark, France and Britain.

– Omar

Today Israel deports me, culminating 2.5 year effort to muzzle human rights advocacy. But its done the opposite: it has made plain Israel's disdain for intl norms, unified human rights community & @hrw work on Israel/Palestine will continue w/ me at helm from outside #WhoisNext

— Omar Shakir (@OmarSShakir) November 25, 2019


Today is the day.

Today is the day that Israel deports Human Rights Watch's Israel-Palestine Director, @omarsshakir, for doing his job.

It won't stop us investigating and reporting human rights abuses there.

— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) November 25, 2019

The Interior Ministry declined to renew Shakir’s work visa in May 2018 at the recommendation of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, on the grounds that “he frequently retweets and shares material about BDS.” The decision was made under a new law that allows prominent advocates of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement to be denied entry to Israel.

However, the Foreign Ministry initially opposed the decision. It argued that Shakir, a U.S. citizen, should be granted a visa, out of fear that doing otherwise would undermine Israel’s foreign relations and its public diplomacy, especially given HRW’s prominence.