Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir/TPS
Omar Shakir,

Israel dismissed the latest report by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization accusing the Jewish State of various wrongdoings as “a report drafted by a man known for his hostile and biased attitude toward Israel.”

HRW on Tuesday published a report titled “Born Without Civil Rights: Israel’s use of Draconian Military Orders to Repress Palestinians in the West Bank,” in which its author Omar Shakir accused Israel of using “military orders that criminalize nonviolent political activity, including protesting, publishing material “having a political significance,” and joining groups “hostile” to Israel.”


HRW, in the report, examined several case studies that supposedly prove that Israel “unjustifiably relies on these sweeping orders to jail Palestinians for anti-occupation speech, activism, or political affiliations; outlaw political and other nongovernmental organizations; and shut down media outlets.”

HRW called on “other governments and international organizations concerned with the rights of Palestinians should endorse a civil rights framework to highlight the impact of Israel’s restrictive military orders in the West Bank and press Israel to grant Palestinians full civil and other rights at least equal to what it grants Israeli citizens.”

Responding to an inquiry by TPS on the report, Israel’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lior Haiat stated that “this is a report drafted by a man who is known for his hostile and biased attitude toward Israel, whose sole purpose is to defame Israel.”

“There is not enough time or space to cover all Shakir’s disapproving statements against Israel and in support of boycotts against it,” he added.

“Among other things, he signed a petition calling ‘to support delegations to Palestine with the aim of emphasizing the reality of the occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing,’” Haiat noted.

NGO Monitor’s Legal Advisor Anne Herzberg dismissed the report as ”simply bizarre.”

“It extensively whitewashes terror, even from Hezbollah, and appears to recommend that Israel annex the West Bank,” she stated.

Regarding the main thrust of the publication which is that Israeli authorities rely on broad provisions of military law to ban associations as ‘hostile organizations,’ NGO Monitor dismissed the accusation as “bewildering.”

HRW’s examples of the targets of these alleged Israeli actions are individuals who are members of internationally recognized terrorist organizations or groups closely linked to these organizations and who have been convicted of incitement, terror financing, and membership in terrorist organizations. These include Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), NGO Monitor pointed out.

“In order to whitewash these individuals’ involvement in terrorism, HRW misleadingly truncates quotes and withholds vital information,” NGO Monitor charged.

Furthermore, NGO Monitor pointed out that “as with many other HRW campaigns, the publication exposes HRW’s legal creativity.”

Some of the measures criticized by HRW are required under international law, namely UN Security Council Resolution 1701, to combat terrorism. Moreover, and contrary to HRW’s intention, many of the examples discussed in the publication demonstrate the urgent necessity of certain restrictions to prevent violence against civilians and material support for terrorist organizations, NGO Monitor said.

Herzberg further noted that “it is no surprise that such an extreme report was authored by HRW’s in-house BDS activist Omar Shakir, demonstrating that this once venerable NGO continues to move further and further away from its original purpose of publishing credible reports in service of universal human rights” and accused Shakir of “engaging in unprofessional research, minimizing terrorism and whitewashing terrorists, and recycling false and discriminatory arguments made by other NGOs.”

Shakir, Israel and Palestine Director at HRW, left Israel last month after months of legal proceedings and court hearings

This is the first instance in which a new Israeli law enabling the deportation of anti-Israel activists had been enacted and upheld by the courts.

The High Court of Justice’s final ruling on the issue stated that Shakir is a long-standing Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) activist and that his role at HRW has been to advance BDS and related anti-Israel campaigns.

Shakir has a long history of advocating against Israel. Before joining HRW when he was a student at Stanford University, Shakir established an organization calling for boycotts and divestment from Israel. Over the years he has consistently called for the support of the BDS movement.

On YouTube, Shakir can be seen calling Israel an apartheid state and promoting anti-Israel boycotts.

Even after joining HRW and entering Israel, he continued to encourage boycott activities through comments on Twitter. He was personally involved in the activity to oust Israeli clubs from FIFA, the international governing body of football, and worked to bring about Israel’s suspension from the organization.

On Twitter, he urged the High Commissioner of the UN Human Rights Council to publish a UN database that includes names of companies operating in Judea and Samaria, exposing them to boycotts.

In addition, HRW prepared a report on Israel’s banking activity in Judea and Samaria, which recommends that investors ensure that their business relationship does not contribute to “serious human rights violations or international humanitarian law.”

Finally, Shakir praised Airbnb’s decision to remove its listings of Judea and Samaria properties, a decision it has since reversed, and called on other companies to follow suit.

Former Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon has called HRW a “blatantly hostile anti-Israeli organization whose reports have the sole purpose of harming Israel with no consideration whatsoever for the truth or reality.”


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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.