Law professor Eugene Kontorovich has published an important op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (“A Selective Opponent of ‘Settlers,’ January 14, 2020), revealing the hypocrisy of Sarah Leah Whitson, Director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch (HRW). According to Kontorovich, Whitson is an active supporter of groups that support Armenian settlements in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, while pursuing rabid campaigns against Jewish communities in the West Bank.

He cites her role as emcee of the 2018 fundraiser for the Armenian National Committee of America, a group that reportedly refers to the contested territory as an “integral part of the Armenian homeland.”  Whitson also promoted on social media products produced in Armenian settlements, as well as was involved with the Armenian General Benevolent Union, identified in the piece as supporting Armenian settlement construction.

This promotion of Armenian settlement products and groups directly contradicts HRW’s assertions regarding Israel. In this context, HRW – and Whitson personally – argue that business activity in Israeli settlements violates international law. They have launched several BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions) campaigns targeting corporations that operate there, extensively lobbied for and promoted the UN Human Rights Council “database” of Israeli settlement businesses, and have lobbied the ICC to investigate Israel for war crimes because of its West Bank policies.

This is not the only example of Whitson’s human rights hypocrisy. She has a well-documented history of currying favor with despotic Middle Eastern regimes:

Whitson has also repeated antisemitic tropes, antagonizing American Jews and equating the situation in Gaza with the Holocaust: