Israel bars Human Rights Watch director from entering country, calls org ‘Palestinian propaganda’

Israel/Palestine
on 29 Comments

Israeli authorities denied Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) Israel and Palestine director a work visa, the group announced in a statement on Friday. The group said Israel’s Interior Ministry accused  HRW of “Palestinian propaganda” and not being a “real human rights group.”

Omar Shakir was informed that he would be unable to obtain his visa, on Feb. 20, though the information was not public until Friday.

The Interior Ministry reportedly cited an opinion received from Israel’s Foreign Ministry, which stated that HRW’s “public activities and reports have engaged in politics in the service of Palestinian propaganda, while falsely raising the banner of ‘human rights.”

HRW, a well-known nonprofit, nongovernmental human rights organization made up of roughly 400 staff members around the globe, has a history of being critical of Israel’s many human rights violations, labeled so according to international law and conventions.

Shakir responded to the denial on social media, slamming the Interior Ministry’s decision.

“The Israeli government is hardly the only one among the 90+ countries we cover to disagree with our findings, but branding us propagandists and fake human rights advocates puts Israel in the company of states like Egypt, North Korea and Sudan who have blocked access for our staff members,” Shakir said. “Israel claims to be only democracy in the Middle East, but is barring us at a time when our staff is based in and freely operates in several other countries in the region.”

“While the denial comes as a surprise (we have had regular access to Israel/West Bank, though not Gaza for three decades), it comes amid increasing pressure on Israeli and Palestinian rights groups and a wide-ranging assault on basic democratic values. Blocking our access will not silence us,” he added, “We will continue to scrupulously investigate abuses, expose the facts and struggle every day to defend the inherent human dignity of all.”

Iain Levine, deputy executive director of programs at Human Rights Watch said the decision and the “spurious rationale” behind it “should worry anyone concerned about Israel’s commitment to basic democratic values.”

“It is disappointing that the Israeli government seems unable or unwilling to distinguish between justified criticisms of its actions and hostile political propaganda,” Levine said.

On Friday afternoon, Emanuel Nahshon, a spokesperson for Israel’s Interior Ministry told Mondoweiss that Shakir “may enter Israel with a tourist visa” adding that “with regard to the work visa, this may be reconsidered if the organization appeals the Ministry of Interior decision.”

A group of 17 Israeli human rights organization condemned the Interior Ministry’s actions, calling the visa denial a “cause of grave concern.”

“Israel seeks to portray itself as a card-carrying member of the club of democratic countries,” the joint statement said, “Yet what is democracy without free speech, robust public debate and open criticism? A state that defines itself as democratic cannot turn its border control into a thought police.”

The organizations that signed the document were listed as: Adalah Center, Akevot, Amnesty, International Israel, Bimkom, Breaking the Silence. B’Tselem. Coalition of Women for Peace, Emek Shaveh, Gisha, Hamoked: Center for the Defense of the Individual, Haqel-Jews and Arabs in Defense of Human Rights, Human Rights Defenders Fund, Machsom Watch, Negev Coexistence Forum for Civil Equality, Physicians for Human Rights Israel, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Yesh Din.

“Neither closing Israel’s borders to human rights organizations and activists nor other measures by the Israeli government against organizations that criticize the occupation will deter us from continuing to report human rights violations in the territories controlled by Israel,” the groups added. “Attempts to silence the messenger will not suppress our message.”

Letter signed by Israeli NGOs protesting the government’s decision to prohibit Human Rights Watch’s country director from working in Israel. (Photo: Facebook)

About Sheren Khalel

Sheren Khalel is a freelance multimedia journalist who works out of Israel, Palestine and Jordan. She focuses on human rights, women's issues and the Palestine/Israel conflict. Khalel formerly worked for Ma'an News Agency in Bethlehem, and is currently based in Ramallah and Jerusalem. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sherenk.

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29 Responses

  1. Ossinev
    February 24, 2017, 1:24 pm

    According to Haaretz the Zioland Foreign Ministry has done a U-Turn on this decision allegedly on the instructions of Herr Yahoo.
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.773639

    The reasons given for the initial visa rejection as outlined in the letter have presumably evaporated overnight. 24 hours is after all a very short time in the Zio life span. I suspect that someone in the Ziosphere pointed out to Herr Yahoo that this visa ban on an internationally respected organisation of HRW`s standing bought Zioland membership of very small and exclusive group of similar “democratic” nations such as North Korea. The Yahoo probably pooped in his pants and switched to his much used rapid damage repair routine.

    Too late sunshine. Damage done. Yet another reminder to the civilised world of the overtly Fascist destination which the Land of Desecration is heading for. Achtung ! negative reporting verboten ! Achtung!!

  2. DaBakr
    February 25, 2017, 12:38 am

    Make as much may as they possibly can from this. HRW in relation to its work in Israel and especially on behalf of the Hamas in Gaza has been totally fleshed out by both supporters of hrw and detractors. There is nothing surprising about the reasoning behind this rejection. Feel free to compare Israel to Egypt all you like. Many of you compare the US to a fascist regime too. It’s become a badge of honour to be accused by the intolerant far left. Funny how it’s doubtful many here would criticize their beloved Iranian mullah tyranny for far worse. There are still 1000s of workers living in Israel, enjoying its benefits while working to destroy its Jewish sovereignty . They work for any number of mostly EU ngo’s. So don’t cry too many years and the poor poor hrw

    • eljay
      February 25, 2017, 2:33 pm

      || @aBr: … Feel free to compare Israel to Egypt all you like. … ||

      Why not – you Zionists do it all the time:
      – you never fail to praise Israel as a “moral beacon”, a “light unto the nations” and a “Western-style democracy”; and
      – you never fail to defend Israel’s colonialism, supremacism and (war) crimes by comparing it to bottom-of-the-morality-barrel states like Saudi Arabia, Mali and African “hell-holes”.

    • Talkback
      February 26, 2017, 4:09 am

      DaBakr: “There is nothing surprising about the reasoning behind this rejection. ”

      Of course not. The Zionist regime has to cover up many to many atrocities and crimes against humanity.

    • oldgeezer
      February 26, 2017, 4:17 pm

      @dabakr

      It’s hard to know if Bernstein thinks he is being honest or if he is merely writing as propagandist or PEP. If he thinks he is being honest he needs some assistance in logic or a shrink.

      He claims that HRW was established to pry open closed societies, support dissidents, and advocate basic freedoms.

      Open societies may commit abusesbut have the means to self correct in his estimation. That claim is without any justification or even example.

      So far not a single acknowledge that Israel does, or may, commit abuses. Nor that it has denied basic freedoms to almost half the population it controls.

      He then goes on to criticize HRW wondering how they can determine that war crimes have been committed when access to military and political personnel has been denied. HRW has to rely upon witnesses who may have political motives.

      Not for a second has it dawned on him that Israel is functioning as a closed society, those witnesses are dissidents

      There is nothing intrinsically moral or immoral about a country which is a democracy (Israel is not a democracy by any reasonable definition). War crimes are war crimes.

      Kemp is not credible. Period.

      Whatever Bernstein is he is not a defender of human rights.

      • Mooser
        February 26, 2017, 7:16 pm

        “Whatever Bernstein is he is not a defender of human rights.”

        Gee, he sounds like he is defending somebody’s rights:

        “But how does White Rose and Red Cross know that these laws have been violated? In Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and other Nazi-occupied areas where there is no access to the battlefield or to the military and political leaders who make strategic decisions, it is extremely difficult to make definitive judgments about war crimes. ”

      • DaBakr
        February 26, 2017, 8:27 pm

        @og

        Lol. Of course you would dismiss Kemp as “not credible”. Hardly a surprise.

        As for open vs. Closed societies the reason comparing hrw reports on Israel to other countries like Egypt or KSA or North Korea, China, Russia, and dozens of others is that up until very recently hrw as well as many other ngo’s have had almost unrestricted access to Israel. Now that Knesset has passed a few provisions,which have all been divisive, restricting certain actors involved with certain ngo’s all of a sudden the hysterical Israel obsessed far left is appalled and immediately ranks Israel as ‘lower then the lowest’ abusers of rights on the planet, practically.

        Egypt doesn’t allow hrw unfettered access to sites. Nor does Putin or the Sauds or Khameini or Kim Jong etc, etc., but sure thing, Israel is really scraping the bottom. At least in the minds at mw.

      • talknic
        February 26, 2017, 11:37 pm

        @ DaBakr February 26, 2017, 8:27 pm

        Go gripe at the Zionist Federation and continuing co colonizers of Palestine for dragging Israel down to the level of a rogue state

  3. Jackdaw
    February 25, 2017, 1:46 am

    The correct question is not whether Israel is on par with North Korea or Egypt, rather, the correct question is whether or not HRW is biased against Israel.

    The answer to that question, is ‘yes’.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/20/opinion/20bernstein.html

    • Talkback
      February 26, 2017, 4:19 am

      Yeah, right. And Robert L. Bronstein writing this article in the New York Stuermer isn’t.

      And although he mentions:

      “But how does Human Rights Watch know that these laws have been violated? In Gaza and elsewhere where there is no access to the battlefield or to the military and political leaders who make strategic decisions, it is extremely difficult to make definitive judgments about war crimes. ”

      he has NOTHING to say about the fact that it is the criminal state that prevents HRW from being able to do their job.

      • Mooser
        February 26, 2017, 1:15 pm

        “But how does Human Rights Watch know…/…about war crimes. ”

        Would you believe +12 IQ? How about we round it down to + 10 , so there’s no quibbling?

    • diasp0ra
      February 26, 2017, 6:49 am

      @Jackdaw

      Reality has an anti Israel bias.

    • amigo
      February 26, 2017, 7:24 am

      Jokedaw,

      “The correct question is not whether Israel is on par with North Korea or Egypt, rather, the correct question is whether or not HRW is biased against Israel.”

      And the very next question should be , “WHY”.

      Here are some of the reasons .

      “Israel is currently in breach of, or has been the subject of, over 30 UN Security Council resolutions directed at it alone for violations which it has never taken action to remedy. ”

      http://www.ipsc.ie/israels-violations-of-international-law-a-brief-introduction

      • DaBakr
        February 26, 2017, 8:31 pm

        The next question would then be why doesn’t most of the developed and shone of the emerging members of the UN take these 30+ resolutions seriously and after passing them with much or little fanfare then ignore them and continue to do business and conduct relations with Israel and its closest allies? ;)

      • amigo
        February 27, 2017, 8:54 am

        duhbaker . “The next question would then be why doesn’t most of the developed and shone of the emerging members of the UN take these 30+ resolutions seriously and after passing them with much or little fanfare then ignore them and continue to do business and conduct relations with Israel and its closest allies “.

        Are you so thick , you have to ask.

        Here , try this for starters and just in case this all too confusing for you , allow me to give you the simple 2 word answer, —-“Jewish Money” buying off many of the political whores who do the bidding of the highest bidder versus that of their own constituents.

        It won,t last forever and I wouldn,t want to be one of those who sold out to the Jewish Lobby or one of those who interfered in our democracy.

        “https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20160513-new-report-breaks-down-the-israel-lobby-in-the-european-union

    • talknic
      February 26, 2017, 11:03 pm

      @ DaBakr February 26, 2017, 8:31 pm

      “The next question would then be why doesn’t most of the developed and shone of the emerging members of the UN take these 30+ resolutions seriously and after passing them with much or little fanfare then ignore them and continue to do business and conduct relations with Israel and its closest allies?

      Counter sanctions

      • talknic
        February 27, 2017, 4:29 am

        Counter sanctions by the US or whoever Zionist influence can muster

    • talknic
      February 27, 2017, 4:32 am

      @ Jackdaw February 25, 2017, 1:46 am

      “The correct question is not whether Israel is on par with North Korea or Egypt, rather, the correct question is whether or not HRW is biased against Israel.”

      Everyone should be biased against a rogue state, even if it claims to be Jewish

  4. Kay24
    February 25, 2017, 6:33 am

    So the American Jewish Congress wants to decide if Keith Ellison is pro Israeli enough to be head of DNC. Apparently he is not good enough for Israel.

    https://twitter.com/MaxBlumenthal

  5. Ossinev
    February 25, 2017, 1:45 pm

    @JLewisDickerson
    Thanks for the great cartoon – the only thing that is missing is a “Je Suis Elor Azaria” badge.

    @Jackdaw
    At the risk of offending your ZioSibling DaBakr with my “intolerant leftism” (FFS !) what the eminent Mr Bernstein says in his article is just a regurgitation of the usual Ziobollocks about poor little eternally threatened eternally victimised Zioland being unfairly singled out for “special” criticism by HRW.

    The article is overflowing with the usual crap whataboutery and the tired worn out Ziononsense about “Hamas” and “Hezbollah” choosing (as if they have a choice) to use densely populated areas to wage a war and the inevitable “using their people as human shields ” Note Bene in Ziothink it is always the opponents who chose to fight wars against poor little Zioland never the other way round. They have absolutely no right to do so , they are always the aggressors and never the heroic resistance fighters like the all time beloved murdering thugs of the Irgun and Stern Gang who largely orchestrated the theft of Palestine from the native population – they of course in the Zio mindset were at all times honorable,courageous and moral and have been greatly misrepresented and maligned by intolerant lefties in the West. They never of course took on the British or the Palestinians from built up heavily populated areas but always in open areas .The bombing and massacre of the KDH was entirely down to British ineptitude and the cold blooded cowardly murder of a UN peace envoy deliberately planned by a future ZIOPM was just one of those silly mistakes that happen.

    The simple truth is that Zioland has aggressively marketed itself as a light unto the nations thus deliberately asking the world to judge it differently from its darkness to the world neighbours in the region.But it kicks up a shit storm of weeping and wailing about being singled out when organisations such as HRW reveal its true darkness.

    At the end of the day Zioland is no more no less than a crappy little Fascist and Racist cult colony which in time the civilised world will look back on as an unfortunate stain on human history just like Nazi Germany and Apartheid South Africa.

  6. Maghlawatan
    February 25, 2017, 2:13 pm

    Given Judaism’s tortured history as a powerless minority, one would have expected Israel to champion human rights defenders. This would be a logical approach. But Zionism always takes the cheap and easy option.

    there was another example a few years ago when the bots fought to deny recognition to 2 Gazan journalists they killed.

    http://www.theblaze.com/news/2013/05/13/newseum-news-museum-reverses-plan-to-honor-hamas-cameramen
    “Terrorism has altered the landscape in many areas, including the rules of war and engagement, law, investigative and interrogation techniques, and the detention of enemy combatants. Journalism is no exception”

    Chemi Shalev describes himself as a very worried Israeli.
    . Jews may well be targeted again. The miserable cult of Zionism isn’t worth the fingernail of a human rights defender.

  7. DaBakr
    February 26, 2017, 8:35 pm

    @m

    Two gazan so-called ” journalists ” that were given funerals as soldiers by the military wing of Hamas. It’s those little details that always seem to slip through the maze of holes in Israel-haters brains that is not just curious but so predictable.

    So, they may well have been providing some information to media outlets but enjoyed absolutely no protection under any military or rules of combat. If they were simply gazan citizen journalists the Hamas would have made a much bigger deal out of it rather then simply holding military funerals….AFTER…. the reports that ‘ idf killed journalists’ were covered by the gullible or complicit msm.

    • Annie Robbins
      February 26, 2017, 10:19 pm

      Two gazan so-called ” journalists ” that were given funerals as soldiers by the military wing of Hamas. It’s those little details that always seem to slip through the maze of holes in Israel-haters brains that is not just curious but so predictable.

      dabakr, do you have any source link for this allegation about the journalists targeted by israel? because there was an investigation by human rights watch that found no evidence the targeted journalists were soldiers and determined their targeted killing was a war crime. https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/12/20/israel/gaza-unlawful-israeli-attacks-palestinian-media

      The Israeli military said that Mahmoud al-Kumi, 29, and Hussam Salama, 30, were “Hamas operatives” but gave no information to support the claim.

      Four Israeli attacks on journalists and media facilities in Gaza during the November 2012 fighting violated the laws of war by targeting civilians and civilian objects that were making no apparent contribution to Palestinian military operations.

      The attacks killed two Palestinian cameramen, wounded at least 10 media workers, and badly damaged four media offices, as well as the offices of four private companies. One of the attacks killed a two-year-old boy who lived across the street from a targeted building.

      The Israeli government asserted that each of the four attacks was on a legitimate military target but provided no specific information to support its claims. After examining the attack sites and interviewing witnesses, Human Rights Watch found no indications that these targets were valid military objectives.

      “Just because Israel says a journalist was a fighter or a TV station was a command center does not make it so,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Journalists who praise Hamas and TV stations that applaud attacks on Israel may be propagandists, but that does not make them legitimate targets under the laws of war.”

      The four attacks struck a car containing two cameramen whom the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) alleged were “Hamas operatives”; antenna towers atop two buildings housing media that the IDF alleged were Hamas “operational communications infrastructure”; and two floors of a building housing media in which the IDF said it had “surgically targeted” a Hamas “intelligence and command center.”

      btw, we covered this story

      http://mondoweiss.net/2012/11/nyt-predictably-comes-under-attack-for-reporting-israel-targeted-journalists-in-gaza/

      http://mondoweiss.net/2013/05/supporters-palestinian-journalists/

      http://mondoweiss.net/2013/05/newseums-investigation-thorough/

      As HRW reported:

      The two men’s families, interviewed separately, said the men were neither participating in the fighting nor members of any armed group. Human Rights Watch found no evidence, including during visits to the men’s homes, to contradict that claim. Hamas’s armed wing, al-Qassam Brigades, has not put either man on its official list of killed fighters– an unlikely omission if the men had been playing a military role.

      http://mondoweiss.net/2013/05/pressure-cameramen-journalists/

      newseum caved to pro israel groups. and israel deliberately slays journalists. that always seem to slip through the maze of holes in Islamophobic anti palestinian brains (such as your own) that is so very predictable.

      • just
        February 27, 2017, 6:43 am

        Thanks, Annie.

        “What Does Israel Have to Hide? …

        … The foreign and interior ministries exploited a personnel change at Human Rights Watch, attempting to block the entry of the new Israel researcher. A spokesman cited the group’s “extreme, hostile and anti-Israel agenda.”

        This administrative decision of government officials reflects the policy of their political bosses and the paranoid, isolationist disposition of the Netanyahu administration. It is the conduct of regimes that seek to conceal human-rights violations. Israel, friendly foreign governments and representatives of world Judaism were among the main forces opposing disruptions to the monitoring of rights violations against Jews in the Soviet Union and in Arab states. Tyrannical regimes prioritize the suppression of their citizens above their international reputations.

        Beyond the fact that Israel is assuming characteristics of dark regimes, this archaic approach ignores the accessibility of information. Does anyone in the Foreign Ministry serious believe that the violation of human rights in Israel and the territories would remain secret if the researcher were to be kept out? That no one would know, or be able to provide proof, and that Israel would be acquitted due to a lack of evidence? Just the opposite, in fact: When Israel fails to cooperate, only its accusers’ side is heard. Even when the United States uses its veto power to defeat an anti-Israel resolution, it does not erase the accusations and only causes more damage to Israel’s image.

        It seems that the Trump administration, which seeks to shut America’s gates to foreigners, is giving the Netanyahu government a shot in the arm. Just as the fence that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu built along Israel’s border with Egypt anticipated the wall that President Donald Trump plans to build against Mexico, Netanyahu can claim primacy in this area too: In the past five years, the number of people refused entry into Israel rose ninefold. Trump still has a way to go.

        After U.S. officials expressed dissatisfaction with the Foreign Ministry’s decision, Netanyahu had to make a U-turn. Within hours, a firm refusal turned into willingness to issue the researcher with a tourist visa, a sort of suspended sentence whose erasure depends on the organization’s attitude toward Israel. But the destructive trend led by the right for the past several years continues, from a state that invited the world to come and marvel at its achievements, under Netanyahu Israel has become a state that is closed and closed off, fearful of foreigners who arrive and of Israelis who travel abroad (representatives of Breaking the Silence). It wants only visitors who won’t criticize it.”

        read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/editorial/1.773862?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

        “Beyond the fact that Israel is assuming characteristics of dark regimes…”

        Israel has long evidenced those “characteristics”.

      • Talkback
        February 27, 2017, 8:15 am

        Annie, how can you quote HRW to question DaBakr’s reality? He prefers someone who isn’t biased. The Israeli military for example. The most moral army in the world.

    • talknic
      February 26, 2017, 10:47 pm

      The things Hasbarristers attempt and say

      @ DaBakr February 26, 2017, 8:35 pm

      “Two gazan so-called ” journalists ” that were given funerals as soldiers by the military wing of Hamas. “

      Ah yes. Of course “so-called”. Unsupported accusations and speculation aren’t evidence. They do tell a lot about what you wish to be true

      “It’s those little details that always seem to slip through the maze of holes in Israel-haters brains that is not just curious but so predictable.”

      Like terrorists who become a certain country’s Prime Minister and have all manner of things dedicated to their alleged heroism

      “So, they may well have been providing some information to media outlets but enjoyed absolutely no protection under any military or rules of combat.”

      Oh. Were they carrying hidden arms? They didn’t wear uniforms or have an insignia? They were n’t under any order? What exactly disqualified them from the protections afforded other belligerents?

      If they were simply gazan citizen journalists the Hamas would have made a much bigger deal out of it “

      Uh? Civilian journalists being slaughtered for publicity, you wish. How nauseously Naziesque! There never seems to be enough innocent bloodshed for some

  8. Maghlawatan
    February 27, 2017, 6:26 am

    Israel: Philadelphia Jewish cemetery desecration shocking, a source of worry
    http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.773996

    Except desecrating cemeteries is Zionist to the core.
    Israel built a museum of “tolerance” on a Palestinian cemetery

    This is classic example of Zionist groupthink taking a rare tour around reality

  9. just
    March 1, 2017, 5:18 am

    Israel bars HRW.

    Just this month the US objected to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ pick of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad as the UN’s representative to Libya.

    Today, I read this:

    “U.S. Reviewing Role in UN Human Rights Council: End Your ‘Obsession With Israel’
    Senior U.S. official tells Human Rights Council it has to move away from ‘unbalanced and unproductive positions.'”

    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.774615?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    Nothing to see here … s.o.s.

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