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Rights and Terror By: NGO Monitor
www.ngo-monitor.org | Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ken Roth and Human Rights Watch have employed Lucy Mair as a researcher in Israel/Occupied Territories. Ms. Mair's qualifications include writing for the "Electronic Intifada" and work with Grassroots International, a radical pro-Palestinian political organization. (Since HRW's employment process is secret, and not subject to independent review, we are unable to compare her credentials and expertise on universal human rights issues with the other candidates.) Her descriptions of Life in Palestine, and articles for "Palestine Now" etc., focus exclusively on Palestinian "fear and the loss and the humiliation and the despair", with no mention of terror, suicide bombings, and the human rights of Israelis. References to Israeli soldiers "protected by arrogance and hatred" are hostile stereotypes, and she echoes the false massacre claims in referring to Palestinians "killed in their homes in Jenin when the tanks and the bulldozers ate up their camp". In this extreme biased approach to Israel that extends far beyond legitimate criticism, she joins the other members of HRW's Middle East team, including Sarah Leah Whitson (from MADRE) and Joe Stork (from MERIP).

Writing for the "Electronic Intifada" in partnership with Robyn Long of the highly politicized Palestinian Environmental NGO Network (PENGON) and the "Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign", Mair excuses Palestinian responsibility for their situation. Using a simplistic hypothesis, she claims that "the Palestinian economy lay decimated from the three-year long Israeli military crackdown against the intifada". Referring to access gates in the security barrier, Mair makes unsubstantiated claims that "there have been reports of Palestinians shot, beaten, humiliated, and prevented from crossing." Mair even goes as far as stating opposition to the security barrier even if its route was moved to the Green Line, calling it "unacceptable to Palestinians, who recognize that even building the Wall along the Green Line, while perhaps minimizing the loss of land and damage to property, would make Israel's crippling closure of the West Bank and Gaza permanent and devastate the Palestinian economy."

Mair has previously demonstrated her politicized involvement in Middle East issues, sharing a platform with recognized anti-Israel activists such as Phyllis Bennis at a "Freedom and Justice for Palestine Conference on 31 March 2001. On 3 May 2003, Mair spoke at a meeting of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, again making allegations based on unsubstantiated Palestinian incitement claims. Speaking about water issues on behalf of the Center for Economic and Social Rights, Mair claimed that "the Israeli army had destroyed two wells in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, that provided nearly half of the city's drinking water. Drivers of water tankers and water maintenance personnel had been physically attacked and threatened by the Israeli army and illegal settlers." Then, representing the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights, she asserted that "The military forces were shooting at people, including newborn babies. Patients seeking medical assistance were dying at Israeli checkpoints because they were not given access to hospitals."

Thus, HRW has hired someone whose experience in 'human rights' is based upon a history of promoting the Palestinian cause with absolutely no regard for the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the rights of Israelis to defend themselves from Palestinian terror. Kenneth Roth has once again demonstrated his policy of filling HRW's Middle East department with like-minded politicized individuals whose priorities are not in keeping with the promotion of universal human rights values.

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