Today, Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced that it was initiating legal proceedings against Israel over the decision to cancel the work permit of Omar Shakir, one of its employees. In response, Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, stated:

Petitioning the courts on this matter may be counterproductive for Human Rights Watch, demonstrating their false denials on continual support for BDS campaigns against Israel. As documented systematically by NGO Monitor, HRW’s and Shakir’s statements include several substantial omissions and misrepresentations, including the absurd claim that “neither HRW – nor Shakir as its representative – advocate boycott, divestment or sanctions against companies that operate in the settlements, Israel or Israelis (sic).”

HRW and Shakir have falsely portrayed this issue as Israel’s attempt to silence criticism. Rather, the decision follows directly from his and his employer’s promotion of demonization and political warfare against Israel. Campaigns include BDS targeting Israeli banks and soccer teams, support for the UN blacklist, and lawfare in the International Criminal Court.

Disagreement over Israel’s policy of denying visas to pro-BDS activists and groups is entirely legitimate and part of the democratic debate. However, this debate must be conducted through facts, and not on the basis of ideological spin and obfuscations by HRW and its supporters.