Court Upholds Deportation of BDS Activist

A view of the High Court building in Yerushalayim.

A Yerushalayim court has upheld the position of the Interior and Public Security Ministries, banning the extension of the visa of Omar Shakir, a BDS activist and head of the Israeli chapter of Human Rights Watch. Shakir will be deported within two weeks, as sought by the ministries. He has until May 1st to leave the country.

Commenting on the decision, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said that “anti-Israel activists must realize that there is a price for their BDS activities. No foreigner has the right to live in Israel and benefit from its society while his purpose is to harm its citizens.”

Israel has been trying to rid itself of Shakir, whose work visa expired in May 2018. The ministries sought to deport him then, but he appealed to the courts against the deportation, claiming that he was involved in human rights work and facilitating dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. In reality, the ministries told the court, Shakir has been a long-time BDS activist, starting his first anti-Israel group as a student as Stanford University. He was admitted to Israel several years ago in his capacity as local HRW director, but continued his BDS activism.

In a statement, HRW said that the deportation order was “chilling” and “undemocratic,” unreasonably punishing “those who criticize the involvement of businesses in serious abuses in Israeli settlements” and “risk being barred from Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.” HRW said it would appeal the order to the High Court.

Commenting on Wednesday’s decision, Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri said that “the court adopted what we have been saying for a long time – that Israel should not be hosting someone who calls for a boycott against it.”

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