Public Talk with Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch

Omar Shakir during the event

Georgetown University in Qatar (GU-Q), recently hosted a compelling public event featuring Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch’s Israel and Palestine Director, who reflected on the impact of his organization’s major report on Israel’s human rights record.

The latest event in the university’s Palestine Speaker Series, titled “Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians,” featured Omar Shakir sharing how Human Rights Watch reached its determination that Israel’s actions amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution. He also shared details about the global attention generated by the report, and the experience of being deported by the Israeli government for his human rights advocacy. 

In his opening remarks, Dr. Safwan Masri, dean of GU-Q, highlighted the university’s commitment to providing opportunities for its students and the broader community to engage with experts in various fields and to foster critical thinking and meaningful dialogue about important issues.

“Omar Shakir’s insight into the plight of Palestinians and the persistent violations of their human rights at the hands of the Israeli state was incredibly educational, and a powerful reminder that we must continue to strive for peace and justice for all people,” he said. 

Shakir is the author of the report released by Human Rights Watch in April 2021 titled “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution,” He explained the methodology that was used to reach this conclusion and outlined the legal basis for defining Israel’s actions as apartheid. He also provided a historical context for the situation in Israel and Palestine, with examples of the ways in which the Israeli government has used its power to deny Palestinians their rights.

The presentation was followed by a lively question and answer session, during which members of the audience had the opportunity to engage with Shakir and ask him questions about his report, the current human rights situation facing Palestinians, and what’s needed to help bring an end to apartheid and to forge a path to a peaceful future.

Led by Associate Professors Abdullah Al-Arian, Karine Walther, and Visiting Assistant Professor Nadya Sbaiti, and with the support of GU-Q dean Safwan Masri, the Palestine Speaker Series is part of a larger project at GU-Q which aims to provide a platform for dialogue and analysis of the historical and contemporary issues facing Palestine.

A former Fulbright Scholar in Syria, Omar Shakir was the 2013-2014 Arthur R. and Barbara D. Finberg Fellow at Human Rights Watch. He holds a Juris Doctorate and a Bachelor’s degree  from Stanford University and a Master’s degree in Arab Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington, DC.