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New Israel Fund CEO, VP Detained at Ben Gurion Airport Respond to Israel Denying Visas to Human Rights Watch:

"Only a Government With Something To Hide Would Keep Out Human Rights Workers"

24 February 2017

In response to the Israeli government’s decision not to grant visas to employees of Human Rights Watch, Daniel Sokatch, CEO of the New Israel Fund (NIF), said:

“Every country has the right to decide to whom to grant visas. But having that right doesn’t make it any less wrong for Israel to decide to bar the entry of our colleagues at Human Rights Watch.

“Healthy democracies welcome the free flow of information. They do not crack down on it, whether by gutting public broadcasting, offering sweetheart deals in exchange for favorable news coverage, or targeting human rights groups. The Israeli government has weaponized every ministry to mark its political enemies, and that’s simply not something a democracy does.

“Israel now finds itself in very poor company: Only a government with something to hide would work this hard to keep out human rights workers.”

Jennifer Gorovitz, Vice President for Finance, Operations, and Administration, who was detained at Ben Gurion airport earlier this month and questioned about her work with NIF, said:

“Two weeks ago, I learned firsthand what it means to be targeted politically at Israel’s border. But I also benefited from the privileged treatment Jews receive in entering the country, both before that night and through intervention on my behalf to secure my release. Omar Shakir didn’t, and in denying him a visa the Netanyahu government has proven that the test for entering the country is a political one — either you agree with Netanyahu’s ultra-right wing coalition or you’re out. This may be legal, but it’s morally unacceptable and anti-democratic.”

For additional information or interviews, please contact Sharon Goldtzvik: 202.500.6362 (phone/whatsapp) or [email protected].

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