We in the pro-Israel community are certainly accustomed, by now, to the myriad of pro-Palestinian activists and political leftists who engage in rank hypocrisy when it comes to the Jewish state. In fact, the U.S. State Department’s working definition of anti-Semitism actually includes such hypocrisy as one example of anti-Semitic behavior: “Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”
Alas, someone ought to notify the folks at far-left Human Rights Watch.
Writing today at The Wall Street Journal, international law expert and law professor Eugene Kontorovich — scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem, professor at George Mason University’s Scalia Law School, and director of that law school’s new Center for International Law in the Middle East — opines that Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of Human Rights Watch, “promot[es] boycotts and international prosecution [of Israel] for the supposed crimes of occupation and settlement,” but “elsewhere … 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,” the international law scholar continued. “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.”
Kontorovich then unraveled the precise nature of Whitson’s hypocrisy. In response to Kontorovich asking Whitson about her work with Armenian National Committee of America, which Kontorovich labels a “pro-settler charity,” Whitson responded to the professor: “My personal support for Armenian diaspora organizations pertains to their charitable and educational work in Armenia and their efforts to advocate for recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”
But having none of it, Kontorovich then ripped Whitson for trying to have it both ways.
“This explanation is at odds with [Human Rights Watch’s] approach to Israel, where the group calls for boycotts of entire companies — including unrelated divisions — because some of their work is in settlements,” he wrote. “It is also at odds with the record: Ms. Whitson’s fundraising appeals for pro-settlement groups are in no way limited to educational issues. 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.”
“If [Human Rights Watch] were serious about its opposition to ‘settlers’ and ‘occupation,’ it wouldn’t have a supporter of them heading its Middle East division,” the professor continued.
Reached by The Daily Wire for exclusive comment, Kontorovich elaborated on leftist hypocrisy on the nexus of Israel, international law, and the law of “occupation.”
“It is not news that progressives, in the name of international law, target Israeli obsessively and exclusively for boycotts and delegitimization,” he told The Daily Wire. “But they dismiss such observation as ‘whataboutism,’ saying their efforts to enforce international law must start somewhere.”
“My revelations show that Rashida Tlaib [who is co-sponsoring a bill to normalize relations with Armenian settlements], Sarah Leah Whitson, and others are not simply ignoring situations of occupation around the world — they are promoting them, without having their progressive bona fides revoked. All of their talk about enforcing international law is just a euphemism for creating a Judenrein zone in Judea and Samaria.”