PCHR: “Silence or Deportation…Israel’s Message to Human Rights Defenders”

12:00 Apr 16 2019 Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (oPT)

PCHR: “Silence or Deportation…Israel’s Message to Human Rights Defenders” PCHR: “Silence or Deportation…Israel’s Message to Human Rights Defenders” PCHR: “Silence or Deportation…Israel’s Message to Human Rights Defenders”
Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch (HRW) Israel and Palestine Director. Published by IMEMC News.

Omar Shakir. Courtesy of Omar Shakir. Published by 972Mag

Palestinian protesters take part in the weekly Great Return March demonstration near the Israel-Gaza fence, east of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 22, 2019. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90) Published by 972Mag

by IMEMC News
Published April 22, 2019 10:20 PM

The Palestinian Center For Human Rights (PCHR): In a new and unprecedented move, an Israeli Court on April 16, 2019 has decided to uphold the revocation of the work permit of Human Rights Watch (HRW) Israel and Palestine Director, Omar Shakir, ordering him to leave the country within 14 days based on allegations that he supported a boycott of Israel.

The ruling was based on a lawsuit filed by Human Rights Watch in May 2018 to challenge the decision of the Israeli government to revoke the work permit of Omar Shakir, who assumed his role as Director of HRW in Israel and Palestine in October 2016, as well as the law upon which the ruling is based, the anti-boycott law, a 2017 amendment to Israel’s Law of the Entry which bars entry or the grant of residence or work permit to foreign nationals who allegedly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The court found that Shakir has “continuously” been calling for boycotts of Israel, citing his student activism as well as his subsequent work for HRW particularly through his social media posts.

The court found as “boycott-promoting activities” HRW’s research on the activities of businesses such as Airbnb,, and Fifa, and its recommendations that they crease operating in settlements in the West Bank as their continuation will make them complicit in violating Palestinians’ human rights and constitutes a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. Moreover, the court held that the anti-boycott law applies equally to boycotts directed at Israel and those directed at the settlements.

This ruling sets a dangerous precedent and is a reflection of the shrinking space for human rights defenders, who work on monitoring and documenting violations of international humanitarian and human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

In recent years, particularly in the aftermath of 2014 Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, Israel has increasingly targeted civil society organizations and human rights defenders, particularly those who have submitted evidence to the ICC, including PCHR, by launching attacks in the form of false accusations, defamation, and smear campaigns intended to undermine their legitimacy, silence their independent voices, and limit their donor funding.

The rights and responsibilities that protect the work of human rights defenders are well-entrenched in international law.

Among other primary human rights instruments, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have proclaimed the inalienable freedoms of opinion and expression, and movement.

Those foundational instruments do not only champions all people rights, but also the activities of human rights defenders. Furthermore, the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly in 1999, provides a range of rights and protection for human rights defenders and imposes duties and responsibilities on states to protect them even if they are openly critical of government entities, policies, or actions in the name of promoting and protecting human rights (Article 12).

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the measures taken against Omar Shakir, whose case represents the latest assault by Israel on human rights defenders. PCHR calls upon the international community to pressure Israel to abide by its obligations under international law by taking measures to repeal the 2017 amendment to Israel’s Law of the Entry and to cease hampering the work of human rights defenders and organizations.

What kind of democracy deports human rights workers?

Israel is trying to deport Human Rights Watch’s Omar Shakir, claiming democratic states have every right to defend themselves. The only problem? Israel is neither democratic nor acting in self-defense.

By Hagai El-Ad, executive director of B’Tselem
Published by 972Mag, April 28, 2019

At the heart of the Jerusalem District Court’s recent ruling to authorize the deportation of Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director of Human Rights Watch, one can find the self-victimizing lie that views Israel as a “defensive democracy.”

The ruling, handed down by Judge Tamar Bazak-Rappaport, did not reinvent the wheel; she is only following the path paved by the Knesset members who legislated, the attorneys who defended, and the Supreme Court justices who made this all possible. Yet, as a glimpse into bankruptcy, self-righteousness and whining of Israel in 2019, the ruling is well worth reading.

The ruling is based on two items of legislation, as per Bazak-Rappaport: “The Entry into Israel Law refers to the definition of a boycott of the State of Israel in the Prevention of Boycott Law, which indicates the connection between the two legislative texts, which are based on the doctrine of ‘defensive democracy,’ and the right of the state to defend itself and protect its citizens.”

And what is the state defending itself from? From “a political-diplomatic boycott by non-state actors who wish to undermine the foundations of the existence of the state in question.”

But Israel is not a democracy, it is not defending itself, and the risk to the foundations of its existence stems from the moral decay it is engulfed in — not from “non-state actors.”

Israel is not a democracy, as these elections proved once again. Democracy is the rule of the people, not the rule of one people over another. When the Yesha Council — the umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish settlements in the West Bank — recently highlighted the polling data on the settler vote, it made a point of celebrating the fact that “the residents of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley placed their voting envelopes in ballot boxes placed inside the settlements.”

Except it was not “the residents” who did so, rather only Jewish citizens. Millions of residents, subjects, non-citizen Palestinians — whose lives are determined by the very same regime – do not get to vote. No one takes them into account. Calling this a “democracy” is a falsehood divorced from reality.

Israel is not defending itself. How much cynicism and indifference is needed to describe the constant violence Israel perpetrates against the Palestinians whose lives it controls as “defense?” Israel is not defending itself when its soldiers kill Palestinian youths by shooting them from a distance in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel is not defending itself when it demolishes Palestinian homes, claiming it is only enforcing the law, after carefully creating a reality in which obtaining a building permit for Palestinians is an imaginary option.

Israel is not defending itself when its settlers, in conjunction with the army, raid Palestinian villages in the West Bank. Israel is not defending itself when it externally controls the largest open air prison in the world in the Gaza Strip. And Israel is not defending itself when it controls — with absolute arbitrariness — every aspect of Palestinian life. Control, dispossession, violence, and tyranny are not “defensive”: they are part of an organized, ongoing aggression.

Israel’s doctrine of “defensive democracy” is a lie, devoid of any intellectual integrity. Israel is carrying out a large-scale, violent national project, and the government seeks not only to protect this despotic project from criticism, it also refuses to pay any price for its cultivation. The Palestinians foot the bill; this is their exclusive domain. To achieve this, the state not only administers a tyrannical regime on the other side of the Green Line, it also legislates tyrannical laws. These laws have no moral validity and they have nothing to do with “defensive democracy.”

Yet Israel understands that for the sake of propaganda, it is worthwhile to continue holding on to this label of “democracy,” since it affords it economic, diplomatic, and public relations benefits. And it is precisely this brand that makes it easy to reject Israel’s comparison to countries such as Cuba, North Korea, Sudan, Iran, or Venezuela, which have also prevented access to Human Rights Watch.

Bazak-Rappaport’s ruling is effectively a propaganda document based on previous propaganda documents in the form of High Court rulings. This is neither law nor justice — it is hasbara.

So, memorize this from now on: Israel is a democracy. A defensive one. We are the victims. The boycott seeks to destroy us. The Europeans are anti-Semites. The Palestinians are terrorists. Leftists are traitors. There is no occupation. The decision of the interior minister to deport Shakir is reasonable under the circumstances. The petitioner must leave Israel. Who’s next?

Hagai El-Ad is the executive director of B’Tselem. Translated from Hebrew by Yoni Molad for Middle East News Service, Melbourne, Australia.
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