Human Rights Watch’s Political War Against Israel
In response to the Israeli government denial of a work visa for its new hire, Human Rights Watch (HRW) is pushing a self-serving image as a professional and apolitical player in the Arab-Israeli conflict. In contrast, the evidence clearly shows that both the individual in question and the organization are deeply implicated in BDS and other forms of political warfare against Israel, noted Jerusalem-based research institute NGO Monitor.
“For two decades, Human Rights Watch has been one of the most blatant and aggressive anti-Israel NGOs in the world,” said Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor. “Their defenders need to ask why they systematically hire pro-BDS activists for key Israel-related ‘research’ positions, while lobbying to isolate Israel through false allegations.”
In October 2016,HRW hired Omar Shakir, who has been denied a work visa by the Israeli government, to serve as its “Israel and Palestine Country Director.” Shakir is a consistent advocate of a “one-state framework” and strident supporter of BDS (boycotts, divestment, sanctions) tactics. For more details, see NGO Monitor’s website.
The most recent HRW campaigns targeting Israel include joining the Palestinian effort to punish Israel at FIFA (the world football body) and promoting a United Nations blacklist of companies that do business with Israel.
In 2009, HRW founder Robert Bernstein published an article in the New York Times (“Rights Watchdog, Lost in the Mideast,” October 19, 2009) strongly criticizing the organization for ignoring severe human rights violations in closed societies, for its anti-Israel bias, and for “issuing reports…that are helping those who wish to turn Israel into a pariah state.”
This was triggered by, among other issues, the hiring of a “researcher” who was also an obsessive collector of Nazi memorabilia; using its attacks against Israel and the specter of “pro-Israel pressure groups” to fundraise in Saudi Arabia; and lobbying for the discredited “Goldstone report” on the 2008/9 Gaza war.
“The only ‘shocking’ aspect of this incident is that HRW, despite repeated exposure, continues its unprofessional and obsessive practices,” continued Steinberg. “If HRW and its backers wish to be taken seriously, they need to start acting in a manner consistent with the principles of universal human rights, including with respect to Israel.”
UPDATE: According to the Times of Israel:
Israel walks back barring Human Rights Watch worker from country. NGO’s regional director Omar Shakir, who previously campaigned against Israel and led BDS efforts, may now enter on a tourist visa and then seek work visa.
“This is to clarify that the HRW representative may enter Israel with a tourist visa,” said Itai Bar-Dov, the spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Washington. “With regard to the working visa, this may be reconsidered if the organization appeals the Ministry of Interior decision.”