Human Rights Watch’s Sara Leah Whitson has one standard for Israel, another for Armenia.
The Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch Sarah Leah Whitson is one of the sharpest critics of the Jewish state’s presence in the West Bank. Yet elsewhere, Ms. Whitson strongly supports settlements in occupied territories.
"The settlements Ms. Whitson supports are in Nagorno-Karabakh, an area that was within the borders of post-Soviet Azerbaijan until 1994, when Armenia occupied the region after a protracted war. Since then, the Armenian leadership in Yerevan has actively encouraged the movement of settlers into the area. Many Armenians regard Karabakh as their historic homeland. But the United Nations, international courts and the U.S. all consider it occupied Azeri territory," the publication reads.
According to the article Ms. Whitson, who is from an Armenian family, served as master of ceremonies at a 2018 fundraiser for the Armenian National Committee of America, a pro-settler charity that views Karabakh as an “integral part of the Armenian homeland.”
This explanation is at odds with HRW’s approach to Israel, where the group calls for boycotts of entire companies—including unrelated divisions—because some of their work is in settlements. She has celebrated the work of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, which supports new settlement construction to encourage “young families to set down their roots.” She specifically praised the group for helping Syrian Armenians who have “resettled in Armenia”; many or most such refugees have been resettled in the occupied territory.
Ms. Whitson isn’t alone in opposing occupation and settlements only in Israel. Nancy Kricorian, leader of a Code Pink boycott campaign against Israel, also turns out to be an Armenian settler activist. Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib urged a boycott of Israel while co-sponsoring a bill to normalize relations with Armenian settlements.