(April 17, 2019 / JNS) An Israeli court upheld on Tuesday the deportation of the director of the Israeli office of Human Rights Watch, Omar Shakir, who has been accused of supporting the anti-Israel BDS movement.
“The appellant continues to call publicly for a boycott of Israel, or parts of it, while at the same time asking [Israel] to open its doors to him,” ruled the Jerusalem District Court.
Shakir, a U.S. citizen, has worked with Human Rights Watch since 2016 and has two weeks to leave the country.
Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan celebrated the decision.
“We will not allow the promotion of boycotts under the disguise of ‘human rights activists’ as Shakir did,” he tweeted.
However, Human Rights Watch decried the outcome, as “a new and dangerous interpretation of the law.”
“The decision sends the chilling message that those who criticize the involvement of businesses in serious abuses in Israeli settlements risk being barred from Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank,” said deputy program director Tom Porteous.
Human Rights Watch said it will appeal the decision to Israel’s Supreme Court and request an injunction to let Shakir remain in Israel pending any appeal being heard.