The Case of Omar Shakir Shows That Israel Needs to Improve Its Defenses against Lawfare

Today, Israel’s Supreme Court hears the case of Omar Shakir, an American citizen who serves as the “Israel/Palestine director” for Human Rights Watch (HRW), a fanatical anti-Israel organization. The Israeli government wishes to deny Shakir’s request to renew his work visa on the basis of a law that forbids granting visas to those who promote boycotts of the Jewish state, and further claims that Shakir violated the terms of his expiring visa by doing so. To Gerald Steinberg, the case generates the difficulties Jerusalem has had at parrying the lawfare campaigns of HRW and similar groups:

Politically, this case is about HRW and the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS), and whether, after numerous defeats, the Israeli government has a viable counterstrategy. Had the various officials and ministries involved had a coherent strategy in place in 2016, Shakir would never have received a work visa in the first place, and the court sessions, media focus, and accompanying human-rights theater would have been avoided.

Shakir and HRW’s leaders have already waged a very successful campaign in the international media [around his visa application]. They project an invented image of a politically neutral organization promoting the moral principles of human rights, and overcoming intense opposition by the “far-right” Israeli government. Shakir has published opinion pieces in the mainstream media, including the Washington Post, in addition to numerous interviews in the New York Times [and elsewhere].

For [HRW], the case is a win-win: if the judges overrule the lower court, this will be presented as a great victory for HRW over the hated and “anti-democratic Israeli government.” And if Shakir loses and is deported, HRW will declare a great victory in showing the world how “Israel oppresses brave human-rights defenders.” Therefore, in the confrontation between HRW, as an NGO superpower working under a façade of human rights, and Israel, which seeks to counter and defeat multiple campaigns of demonization and delegitimization, this case should be recognized as a policy failure. Instead, a broader and more strategic approach is necessary, though it may be beyond the government’s capability.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: BDS, Human Rights Watch, Lawfare


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University