The next steps in ending Israeli apartheid: an interview with Human Rights Watch’s Omar Shakir

"Though there has been a shift in the narrative that is discernible, we actually have to translate that into action to dismantle apartheid."

Omar Shakir

Jeff Wright introduces the interview in Mondoweiss:

Human Rights Watch’s Omar Shakir participated earlier this week in a seminar on the campus of the University of Denver, where just a month ago, Professor Dr. Nader Hashemi, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the university’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies and associate professor of Middle East and Islamic Policy, announced his forced departure.

Korbel’s Graduate Students Association (KGSA) presented the seminar, Has Israel Been Mislabled an Apartheid State? The association had surveyed its membership earlier this year and discovered that, beyond any other topic, students wanted to learn more about what is happening in Palestine and Israel. Lynn Chlela, Lebanese Fulbright scholar 2023 and Program Manager for the Institute for Comparative & Regional Studies, told Mondoweiss, “This year has posed significant challenges in discussing the Palestine-Israel conflict within American campuses, particularly when it comes to academic freedom.”

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Readers are likely to know that Omar Shakir—38 years old, a former Fulbright Scholar in Syria who holds a law degree from Stanford Law School and an MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Affairs—serves as the Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW). Shakir was the principal author of the years-in-the-making, 213-page 2021 HRW report, A Threshold Crossed, that documented how Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians.

Prior to his current role, Shakir was a fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he focused on US counter-terrorism policies, including legal representation of Guantanamo detainees. In 2013-14, as a fellow at HRW, he investigated human rights violations in Egypt, including the Rab’a massacre, one of the largest killings of protesters in a single day.

In 2019, Shakir was deported from Israel because of his advocacy for human rights for Palestinians based on international law and human rights conventions.

Mondoweiss interviewed Shakir before the May 15 panel discussion that was moderated by Chletla and attended by over 70 students, professors, and members of the wider public.  …  The following has been edited for clarity.

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