Running from the truth …writes Emily Gian

November 21, 2017 by Emily Gian
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I accidentally found myself caught up right in the middle of the Run for Palestinian Human Rights event on Sunday. 

Emily Gian

Yes, me. A proud Zionist.

I was just trying to find a parking spot outside the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne on a beautiful, sunny Sunday morning when I saw small groups of people in matching t-shirts. I caught a glimpse of what looked like a Palestinian flag draped around a girl’s shoulders and joked to my friend, “what if we’ve turned up to an anti-Israel rally by mistake?”

I continued searching for a spot and caught another glimpse of the t-shirt and realised it read “Run for Palestinian Human Rights”.

So it was not a joke. We were there in the middle of pro-Palestinian event. I found my parking spot at last and we proceeded to walk to the entrance of the gardens with our kids holding our hands. We were walking the path with the walkers, all of them just continuing on their way.

One guy turned around to us and said, “oh are you joining us on our walk for Palestinian Human Rights?”

I had to think for a moment.

All of us care about human rights and want the human rights of all people to be protected and upheld. There is without a doubt, a crisis for the people living in Palestinian territories under the administration of the Palestinian Authority and in Gaza where Hamas still prevails despite the recent “unity” deal. Life is not easy for the people, not the least because their human rights are being violated on a day-to-day basis by a leadership that cares more about destroying Israel than creating a better life for their own people.

This was a nice, friendly looking event and I was not really looking for a confrontation on such a beautiful Sunday morning and in front of my kids.

“Uhhh, not quite,” I replied.

He looked over at my kids and back at me and smiled, “why, are you Israeli or something?”

I am not. But did it matter? Did I need to explain?

“Something like that,” I smiled back at him and, added, “Am Yisrael Chai (the nation of Israel lives)”, not knowing why I added that last part.

“Hey that’s ok!” he replied. “We’re all entitled to our views.”

“Yes, and we all want everyone to be afforded their human rights, we can agree on that brother,” I said as I shook his hand and walked off.

My friend turned to me. “Well that didn’t escalate the way I thought it would have.”

Working in Israel advocacy, I feel as though I live and breathe the conflict and have been ever since I started in 2001, incidentally after I had spent time in Israel at the height of the Second Intifada. But what could I have possibly said at that moment?

That I think that if people truly cared about the Palestinian people then they needed to stop placing the blame for their situation solely on Israel?

It was only later that I discovered that this event was an initiative of “Australians for Palestine” and “Australian Friends of Palestine”. A simple search of the former’s website uncovers that this group supports the antisemitic BDS movement, rails against the occupation, accuses Israel of practising “apartheid” and committing various crimes.

It seems to me that if these people really cared about human rights they should be getting to the root cause of the problem which includes a refusal on the part of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and the BDS groups to even recognise what Israel is and that “the other” also have the normal human right to go about their everyday lives with security and without the fear attack or the incitement to violence which are part and parcel of life in the region.

That they should be aware that the groups behind such campaigns simply exacerbate matters rather than help because they draw the people in the region further away from each other in opposing the “normalisation” of their relationships with each other?

That they should care more about the double war crimes committed every time a rocket is fired from a heavily populated civilian area in Gaza to a heavily populated civilian area in Israel?

Do they ever wonder what a peaceful Palestine would look like, and where would Israel fit into the picture of their Palestinian state?

I read an article late last week about how Palestinians had been trying to get FIFA to sanction Israel for having soccer teams that play over the Green Line in the West Bank. The request was rejected and FIFA President Gianni Infantino apparently sent a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, saying his organization was tired of being pulled into internal political matters. “We are not the playground of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

It made me think about all of the other arenas this is happening in. On an international political stage through the UN – with attempts to infiltrate different groups, then use that position to delegitimise Israel. The way resolutions are being passed that deny Israel’s claim on its holiest of places or how groups within our own country are trying put pressure on state governments and ultimately the Federal government to recognise Palestine in the absence of a political solution to the conflict.

The way forward is not by seeking to dehumanise one side with, for example, the same old tired lines about the Israeli “siege”, false comparisons with Apartheid or accusations against Israel of everything they can think of while ignoring the real rocket attacks, terror tunnels and incitement against Jews but forgetting the hundreds of trucks laden with goods for the people who enter each day from Israel.

The only way forward is through diplomacy, through both two sides involving themselves in mutual recognition and direct negotiations. The way to achieve a Palestinian state – one that exists side by side, in peace, with an Israeli state – is through dialogue.

It is certainly not through boycotts, bullying and censorship as Aussie musician Nick Cave noted at the weekend during his visit to Israel.

“It suddenly became very important to make a stand, to me, against those people who are trying to shut down musicians, to bully musicians, to censor musicians and to silence musicians.” He continued, “At the end of the day, there are two reasons why I’m here: one is that I love Israel and I love Israeli people, and two is to make a principled stand against anyone who tries to censor and silence musicians. So really, you could say, in a way, that the BDS made me play Israel.”

Yet the walkers and the runners pounded on with idea of Australians valuing their own freedoms which are not afforded to those in Gaza and in the West Bank, when the truth is, that many Palestinians are being held hostage by their own leaders and have been for a very long time.

Let’s run for Human Rights. Let’s run for global Human Rights. But let’s be honest about it, and in the meantime, start to care about what is actually going on there.

Emily Gian is the Media and Advocacy Director at the Zionist Federation of Australia


6 Responses to “Running from the truth …writes Emily Gian”
  1. Eleonora Mostert says:

    Oh my Gosh. More DIALOGUE, never ending dialogue Oops anybody noticed it’s NOT WORKING, hasn’t for donkeys ages. Emily it would be much better to put this onto the General Media, we all know what’s happening, try telling the the GENTILE WORLD. Hopefully one day they will find their ears and hear.

  2. Jack Chrapot says:

    Richard Middleton, you really didn’t address the article at all but instead went into autopilot with a potpourri of the sort of wild claims that we’ve come to expect from the anti-Israel propaganda machine, most of which bear not the slightest semblance to reality.

    I take it from your shambolic blovationing that you disagree with the proposition put that the way to achieve a Palestinian state – one that exists side by side, in peace, with an Israeli state – is through dialogue.

  3. Richard Middleton says:

    (Hello… My initial response was incomplete…
    Please substitute this corrected version.

    Oh, the shame!! That a proud Zionist could be “caught up” in a run for Palestinian Human Rights… Oh the shock, the anguish… “Caught up”, as in “captured, ensnared, trapped”? The language of fearful separateness in the first two lines?.

    If you are really interested in how Palestine-Israel-Judea-Samaria would look in the absence of the understandable and legitimate responses to occupation and oppression for almost 70 years, then perhaps go look at the historical records (Ilan Pappe and others have) and try and see in your mind’s eye the country that existed then.

    You would know that by and large, the people of Palestine had lived in a largely peaceful agrarian society for many centuries. You would know that Herzal knew that.

    You would know of the well documented policies of indiscriminate bombing of civilians (as in Terrorism .. the first uses of such, by the way), Jews, Muslims, Christians and proto-Atheists, by groups with names like Haganah, Irgun and Stern. These bombings served their purpose. To create division and fear.

    Read about those who opposed the policy of total land theft necessitating numerous massacres and other crimes against humanity that was Plan Dahlet, supervised from the Red House in Tel Aviv (now under the Hilton). You must also be aware that many Zionists are on record as admitting that the original plan required the complete removal of all Palestinians (as in Ethnic Cleansing).

    This anticipated crime was agonised over by one of the architect of the plan, Balfour, even as he pushed it through the British parliament. Zionist leaders also agonised over it, in so far as they failed to kill or drive every last Palestinian from the land of their forebears.

    There are so many facets of the tragedy that began back in 1897 when Herzal had the brilliant idea of taking the land of another people and all the blood and money (largely of others) wasted on bringing to fruition what is the last great colonialist exercise of the 20th and 21st centuries.

    I very much doubt that you will be aware of these histories because no amount of propaganda from birth about ancient tribal roots (no evidence for such exists in the archaeology of the Levant, by the way (Finkelstein and Silberman)) would prevent a truly honest and caring person from realising they have been fed nothing but lies. I understand that such a realisation can be traumatic but it is inevitable.

    That well positioned Israelis such as Uri Avnery, Miko Peled and Jeff Halpin to mention but a few, stand with the Palestinians should, if you really have an open mind, make you think. That many many Jews around the world, increasingly in the US and West, oppose Israel should also make you think. They can’t ALL be “self hating”, can they??

    That Israel is reviled around the world and BDS is now such a problem should tell you that the world has a very different understanding of what is being done daily to Palestinains in Occupied Palestine. If their (democratically elected) leaders are bad for them, the way to get around that is to give these bad leaders no excuses, nothing with which to beat, the kindly IDF, border police, judiciary and the entire edifice of occupation. But oddly, they don’t, because they can’t.

    The present situation, as Nelson Mandela said, is Apartheid. Who better to say?
    Opposing Zionist apartheid is no more “antijewish” than opposing South African apartheid was “antiDutch Reform-ish”

    The desperate, disparate and divided “Palistans”, the Apartheid laws and practices that Sharon is very very largely responsible for, will, paradoxically, be the end of the Zionists dream.

    If you really care about what is going on, just read some real history think about that for a moment. Then you might feel shame.

    • Emily Gian says:


      Although your error filled propaganda rant entirely missed the point I was making in the piece above, you have at least gone a long way towards proving it – i.e that sometimes the so-called “friends” of the Palestinian people are their own worst enemies.

  4. david singer says:


    Here is the link to support the demise of the Palestinian Authority

    The PLO shot itself in the foot and Oslo in the process when Abbas made the decision.

  5. david singer says:


    The Palestinian Authority ceased to exist on 3 January 2013.

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