Today, responding to news that the Israel and Palestine Director of Human Rights Watch Omar Shakir will be deported, Daniel Sokatch, New Israel Fund CEO released the following statement:
“A strong democracy is one that welcomes the free flow of information, including critical information. Omar Shakir should be working to help Israel become a stronger democracy. Instead, Israeli officials will silence and expel him, and make the work of guaranteeing human rights in Israel more difficult. This will inevitably hurt both Israelis and Palestinians.
“When the law used to expel Shakir was passed, we saw it for what it was: a political litmus test and a tool for witch hunts against anyone the government marked as undesirable masquerading as an entry law to ‘combat BDS.’ The legislators who passed it have officially put Israel in the poor company of countries like Cuba, North Korea, and Sudan who have blocked access to Human Rights Watch staff.
“It would appear that the Israeli government is afraid of human rights defenders. It is afraid of those who care about democracy and justice, Palestinians and Israelis who choose to struggle together rather than against one another. Those who will not accept the status quo that the Israeli right has so carefully constructed will be those who lead to the end of the politics of fear and cruelty. We stand with them.
“Only a government with something to hide would work this hard to keep out those with whom it disagrees.”