Israeli Supreme Court Chief Clerk, Idit Malul
Supreme Court Justices and Registrars
Sha’arei Mishpat St
Jerusalem 9195001 Israel
Dear Ms. Malul,
We write on behalf of five American Jewish organizations in support of Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine Director of Human Rights Watch. We call on the Israeli government to cease its efforts to deport Shakir and on the Israeli Supreme Court to reverse the lower court ruling that upheld the deportation.
As American Jewish organizations concerned about Israel’s future as a democracy, we know that it must keep its doors open to those who would criticize its abuses and hold it accountable to its founding values as a state. Transparency is essential for ensuring human rights and democracy. Human rights and civil society groups play a prophetic role, even if their words may not be ones governments want to hear. Our support for Shakir is grounded in our overall support for human rights defenders, who play a critical role in ensuring that Israel remains a free and open society that respects the rights of its citizens and those under its control. By deporting Shakir, Israel would join the dishonorable company of Cuba, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran and Venezuela, other countries that have blocked access to HRW staff.
A respected human rights organization that operates in 90 countries, Human Rights Watch performs the necessary function of monitoring government activities that violate human rights. Its research and advocacy ensure that no government can violate k’vod habriot, basic human dignity, without fear of accountability. Human Rights Watch has previously shown its commitment to rising above politics by criticizing the human rights record of both Israel and of the Palestinian leadership, including Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, the Israeli government has itself approvingly cited HRW’s work documenting Palestinian abuses and abuses in other Middle Eastern countries. If Shakir is deported, the ability of Human Rights Watch to monitor Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, in addition to the Israeli government, would be hampered. This result would hurt both Palestinians and Jewish Israelis.
Human Rights Watch, like the organizations on this letter, has never called for or supported a boycott of Israel. We support their call on businesses not to facilitate human rights abuses, whether in Israel and the West Bank or in any other country or conflict zone. Under this globally accepted paradigm, HRW’s Business and Human Rights program investigates corporate responsibility for human rights around the world and has found that businesses cannot operate in Israeli settlements in the West Bank without being complicit in rights abuses.
We call upon the Israeli government and Supreme Court to protect Israeli democracy and the human rights of Israelis and Palestinians by ceasing its attempt to deport Omar Shakir.
New Israel Fund
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Americans for Peace Now
The Reconstructionist Rabbinic Association