Experts or Ideologues? Lucy Mair
The references for this article are available here.
Hired in 2005 as a researcher, Mair’s qualifications included writing for the radical website “Electronic Intifada” and serving as International Program Coordinator for CESR (NGO Monitor Report Mar. 21, 2005; see also NGO Monitor Report June 19, 2006). Her work at CESR involved sharing a platform with anti-Israel activists such as Phyllis Bennis at a Freedom and Justice for Palestine Conference on March 31, 2001.32 At a May 2003 meeting of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Mair repeated (UNHCHR May 5, 2003) unsubstantiated Palestinian allegations 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.
At the same meeting, representing the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights, she alleged that “[t]he 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.”
Mair’s understanding of international law with respect to human shielding is weak. When NGO Monitor’s legal advisor pointed out that Mair’s interpretation of the law was incorrect and also inconsistent with HRW’s own definition of human shields, Mair ceased further contact and more senior HRW staff members intervened, ending the dialogue without engaging its substance.33
During her tenure at HRW (she left in 2007), Mair did “field research” for many of the MENA division publications on Israel, and authored Off the Map: Land and Housing Rights Violations in Israel’s Unrecognized Bedouin Villages in 2008 (HRW News Release Mar. 30, 2009).34 NGO Monitor’s detailed analysis of this 130-page report examined the deceptive use of human rights terminology, simplification of the complex challenge of integrating the Bedouin community, and the omission or distortion of factors that do not support HRW’s political message, including any mention of Bedouin issues related to Egypt or Jordan (NGO Monitor Report May 19, 2008).