T’ruah condemns this week’s decision by the Israeli courts to allow the deportation of Omar Shakir, the Israel and Palestine director of Human Rights Watch, to proceed. Israel’s actions put it in the unenviable company of countries like Syria, Egypt, and Bahrain that have prevented Shakir and HRW from documenting human rights abuses. We echo the words of Michael Sfard, the respected Israeli human rights attorney who is Shakir’s lawyer, in stating how deeply troubling it is that Israel’s judiciary has now joined the Netanyahu government in silencing dissent and targeting those who struggle to end the Occupation.
Transparency is essential for human rights, and human rights and civil society groups play a prophetic role, even if their words may not be ones governments want to hear. 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 kavod 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 Palestinian leadership, including Hamas. We urge the Israeli government to to listen to and welcome Human Rights Watch and other such groups as critical voices that will ultimately push us toward justice and peace.
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights mobilizes a network of 2,000 rabbis and cantors from all streams of Judaism that, together with the Jewish community, act on the Jewish imperative to respect and advance the human rights of all people. Grounded in Torah and our Jewish historical experience and guided by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we call upon Jews to assert Jewish values by raising our voices and taking concrete steps to protect and expand human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories.