Photo Credit: Ed Schipul via Flickr
Carroll Bogert, Associate Director of Human Rights Watch

Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority, on instructions from the Foreign Ministry, this week refused to award a work visa to an employee of international group Human Rights Watch, accusing HRW of working in the service of Palestinian propaganda. The employee, an Iraqi-American named Omar Shakir, was replacing a retiring employee. The work visa request was made by HRW seven months ago.

This week, according to Ha’aretz, Moshe Nakash, who is in charge of service permits to employers and foreign workers at the Population and Immigration Authority, refused the visa request, but not based on the identity of the specific employee, but based on an opinion from the foreign ministry saying the public activities of the organization are “political and serve Palestinian propaganda while waving the flag of human rights in vain, therefore we recommend refusing the request.” Nakash followed a consequent recommendation issued by the advisory committee which examines visa requests by professional foreign workers.


Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emmanuel Nahshon told Ha’aretz the decision had been reached over “the organization’s extremist and anti-Israeli agenda.” According to Nahshon, HRW has “placed itself in the service of the Palestinian Authority, acting in a significant, clear and unambiguous fashion against the State of Israel, in a completely biased way. This is the reason we are no longer prepared to turn the other cheek and will not issue a work visa to a person who arrives here with a clear goal of damaging Israel and its good name.”

According to NGO Monitor, Human Rights Watch is a “powerful NGO, with a massive budget, close links to Western governments, and significant influence in international institutions. Its publications reflect the absence of professional standards, research methodologies, and military and legal expertise, as well as a deep-seated ideological bias against Israel.”

HRW is active in 80 countries, with an annual budget of close to $80 million. In 2010, when donor support to the group was eroding, billionaire George Soros pledged $100 million over 10 years, beginning in 2010.

According to NGO Monitor, In 2009, HRW held a fundraising dinner in Saudi Arabia, using HRW’s anti-Israel bias and the specter of “pro-Israel pressure groups” to solicit funds from “prominent members of Saudi society.” At the event, Sarah Leah Whitson, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division, boasted that HRW allegations of human rights violations were instrumental in the Goldstone mission.

HRW’s Website lists organizations that provide “partnership and support” including: Open Society Institute, Ford Foundation, and others. However, following the Saudi funding controversy, HRW removed the names of donors as well as donation amounts from its annual financial reports posted online.

According to NGO Monitor, HRW uses distorted legal rhetoric to regularly accuses Israel of “war crimes,” “serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law,” “collective punishment,” and fostering a “culture of impunity.” The group applies double standards and unique standards to Israel as part of its broader delegitimization campaign. Systematic NGO Monitor analyses demonstrate that HRW disproportionately focuses on condemnations of Israel and that publications related to Israel often lack credibility. Promotes an agenda based solely on the Palestinian narrative of victimization and Israeli aggression.

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