Israel's Human Rights Watch director expelled over BDS claims

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"The decision not to let him into the country was made for a series of reasons in connection to his activity in the BDS movement and his promotion of boycotts against Israel", Israel's interior ministry said in a statement, according to media reports. Rather, his removal is simply an opportunity for Gilad Erdan-the head of make-work "Strategic Affairs" ministry given to the Likud #2 after he didn't receive a real cabinet post-to pander to the right-wing base by showing up the Israel haters.

Human Rights Watch applied in January 2018 to extend Shakir's work visa, which was due to expire on March 31.

In a response to Israel's interior ministry, Human Rights Watch stated that "neither HRW - nor Shakir as its representative - advocate boycott, divestment or sanctions".

HRW said it supported Shakir.

"It is inconceivable for a boycott activist to get an Israeli visa so he can do whatever he can to harm the country", Dery said in a statement. Human Rights Watch also defends individuals' right to express their views through nonviolent means, including participating in boycotts.

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Israel's strategic affairs ministry has been allocated $36m to combat the BDS movement.

HRW's Executive Director Kenneth Roth accused Israel of trying to "silence" the organisation. Palestinian rights defenders have received anonymous death threatsand have been subject to travel restrictions and even arrest and criminal charges.

Last month, Human Rights Watch accused Israel of carrying out a "calculated" campaign of killing unarmed Palestinians taking part in the Great March of Return protests in the Gaza Strip. Human Rights Watch has for almost three decades had regular access without impediment to Israel and the West Bank - though not Gaza, to which Israel has refused access to Human Rights Watch's researchers and other senior officials since 2008 except for a single visit in 2016.

HRW called on Israeli authorities to reverse the decision. The problem, Israeli officials said, was not with human rights activists writ large-of which there are thousands in Israel and the Palestinian territories-but rather with anti-Israel political activists like Shakir who seek the total isolation of the Jewish state while masquerading as impartial observers of its actions.

Human Rights Watch has published a series of reports that were highly critical of Israel and biased against it, especially after wars or periods of heightened violence with Palestinian terrorists.

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