The Age and Human Rights in Gaza

October 4, 2012 by Emily Gian
Read on for article

For perhaps the first time in recent history, and at least for the first time since Ruth Pollard took the reigns as Middle East correspondent at the Age, a story has run which portrays Hamas in a negative light…the last time this happened was most likely back in 2008, a good four years ago…writes Emily Gian.

Sadly, little on the topic has changed.

Emily Gian

The article, entitled ‘Torture part of Gaza justice system’ describes a report released by Human Rights Watch about the failures of the criminal justice system in Gaza. Joe Stork, the deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch stated that “after five years of Hamas rule in Gaza, its criminal justice system reeks of injustice, routinely violates detainee’s rights, and grants impunity to abusive security services… Hamas should stop the kinds of abuses that Egyptians, Syrians, and others in the region have risked their lives to bring to an end” (see more).

Pollard has enjoyed writing about alleged Israeli abuses of human rights in the justice system, and has never mentioned Hamas’ crimes in the same article, even though much of this information was available well before the release of this particular Human Rights Watch


Report (and indeed was reported by the previous Middle East Correspondent).

Perhaps I am just being cynical because I am so surprised that this article ever saw the light of day in a Fairfax publication, but I did not miss Pollard’s uncontested paraphrasing of the report’s author Bill Van Esveld, when she writes that according to him, ‘there are two major contributing factors to the situation on the ground in Gaza – the split between Fatah and Hamas, and the Israeli-imposed blockade’. I have the read the report, and the vast majority of the references to Israel (which are scant) are about Gazans who have been accused of collaborating with Israel, with their confessions to this “crime” being obtained by torture. But I will let this slide because of an otherwise factual and timely article. Sadly, Hamas did not respond to Ruth’s calls.

One cause that the Age has really relished in trumpeting over the past few years is the Free Gaza Movement, who, among other things, have been behind the flotillas to “break the blockade” of Gaza. If you recall, correspondent Paul McGeough even wrote a six-page spread back in 2010 which featured in the Good Weekend magazine entitled ‘Project Gaza’, focussing on six activists involved in the movement. We covered that story here.

Back then, McGeough wrote about the “motley crew of cash strapped activists” that united to form the Free Gaza Movement. One of those people was the Free Gaza Movement co-founded and Board Secretary Greta Berlin, who has now found herself in quite the pickle after posting an extremely antisemitic video on the Free Gaza Movement’s twitter page.

On the 30th of September, the Free Gaza Movement posted the following, “Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews”, with a link to a disturbing speech by antisemitic conspiracy theorist Eustace Mullins.

Among other disgusting claims, Mullins declares that Hitler “allied with the Zionist Party and the mission of the Nazis was to force the anti-Zionist Jews to accept Zionist. And this is what the concentration camps were about… So the concentration camps were run by the Zionists Jews in order to punish and get rid of the anti-Zionist Jews, which they did. And of course, that’s a part of the Holocaust that you’re never told”.

After the initial tweet was exposed by the Jewish Agency’s Avi Mayer, the tweet was removed, but not before screenshots were taken, reminding us that nothing can ever really be deleted on the internet! The Free Gaza Movement made no other comment on the issue until almost four days later when they tweeted “FG did not post tweet of 9/30. It’s been removed. Greta”.

It was then revealed that Greta Berlin had initially posted the link on her private Facebook page and did not realise that the Free Gaza Movement twitter page was connected to her private page. In other words, she meant to post the video, she just “accidentally” tweeted it to 19,000 people. She then clarified the situation by tweeting “I posted from my personal account something I did not watch. Again, I’m sorry. Greta Berlin.” As Avi Mayer so accurately put it “because the title ‘Zionists operated the concentration camps and helped murder millions of innocent Jews’ leaves so much room for ambiguity”.  To read the full timeline of events, please click here.

The Free Gaza Movement has been exposed a number of times, with this latest antisemitic video just the most recent incident on a list that includes their complicity into the violence perpetrated by members of the IHH on the flotilla in June 2010 and their perpetuation of the myth about the siege of Gaza. I am sure the Free Gaza Movement are not too pleased with this latest report from Human Rights Watch, which painted their friends in Hamas in such a negative light. Perhaps the Free Gaza Movement can make a detour on their next flotilla to Israel in Syria, and help out on a real humanitarian crisis.

Emily Gian is the Israel Advocacy Analyst at the Zionist Council of Victoria and a PhD Candidate in Israeli Literature at the University of Melbourne


12 Responses to “The Age and Human Rights in Gaza”
  1. david says:


    You are entitled to hate the Jewish people and their entitlement to have their own State in their own biblical, ancestral and internationally sanctioned homeland – as you make so absolutely clear in what must be the most hate-filled diatribe I have ever read.

    Let me just state some facts that stand in the way of answering your horrible views:

    1. The current arrangements existing in the West Bank have been mutually agreed between Israel and the Palestinian Authority pursuant to the Oslo Accords 1993. Three areas have been agreed on and the respective control of these areas assigned as part of a process designed to eventually allocate sovereignty where none has legally been internationally recognized since Great Britain withdrew in 1948.

    2. Israel does not occupy all of Palestine. Jordan occupies 78%. Hamas occupies 1%, The Palestinian Authority occupies about 2% and Israel occupies about 19%.

    3. Israel has legitimate borders between itself and Egypt and between itself and Jordan established under two signed peace treaties with those states.

    4. No one has internationally recognized sovereignty in the West Bank or Gaza. Both Jews and Arabs have competing claims that need to be resolved by negotiation.

    5. Israel is entitled in international law to determine who it allows to travel into and from its territory and to insert border controls to effectively police such movements – as Egypt and Jordan also do . Even the PA forbids Israelis entering Area A in the West Bank as they are perfectly entitled to do.

    6. There are no UN mandated borders between Israel and Gaza and between Israel and the West Bank. They are armistice lines only – marking the place where the cease fire lines were established between the armies of Israel’ Jordan and Egypt at the end of the 1948 War – and subsequently revised following the cessation of hostilities in the 1967 War.

    7. The Peel Commission and the UN Partition Resolution were unsuccessful attempts to resolve the division of Palestine between Arabs and Jews promulgated by the 1920 San Remo Conference, the 1920 Treaty of Sevres, and the 1922 Mandate for Palestine.

    8. Palestine was not a country in 1919. It had been divided into separate administrative Ottoman provinces for the previous 400 years as part of the Ottoman Empire – as had other huge tracts of land in the Arabian peninsular.

    9. The Mandate for Palestine and the Mandates for Syria and Lebanon and Mesopotamia were the processes by which 99.99% of the captured Ottoman territories were to be set aside for Arab self-determination and 0.01% for Jewish self-determination. These decisions by the victorious Allies in the first world war were unanimously endorsed by the League of Nations.

    10. The UN Plan did recommend that Jerusalem be internationalised in recognition of its special connection with the three monotheistic faiths. This was accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Moslems – who conquered and occupied it for 19 years – driving out the Jews, destroying Jewish cemeteries and Synagogues and forbidding Jews access to their holy places.

    11 The League of Nations and the UN are not perfect in many respects. However the failure of the Arab to accept their decisions has led to the continuation of the conflict. It is ironic that what is now demanded by the Palestinian Arabs – and considerably more – was offered in 1937 and 1948 and could have been obtained at any time between 1948-1967. Those offers have been lost forever.
    Their stubborn refusal to accept the Israeli offers made in 2000/1 and 2008 are also not likely to be repeated again.

    Regretfully fantasy and delusion caused by your ignorance or inability to comprehend and understand the above facts has led to your highly offensive and hate-filled views.

    One thing is certain – with view such as yours – encapsulated and endorsed in the hate-filled Charters of the PLO and Hamas – the 130 years old conflict is set to continue to the detriment of both Jews and the Arabs.

  2. Shirlee. says:

    Actually Roslyn, Jordan is Palestinian. It occupies 78% of the region of Palestine. There is no country named Palestine, nor are there any people called Palestinians.

    Before we go any further, I suggest you find out what a prison is. If anyone is imprisoned, it’s Israel. Who has had to enclose herself to preserve life.

    The security fence for Israelis is an unfortunate fact of life. It had to built to protect the lives of ordinary people who left the house daily with the thought they may never turn, thanks to the never ending suicide bombers.

    Even with that security in place they are still trying.!!

    The solution is simple. Stop the suicide bombers and the security fence can come down.

    As for Gaza being a prison. That’s a joke. Earlier this year I stood in Sderot looking into Gaza.

    Strange thing you know, I saw only high rise apartments and office towers. I saw nothing that in any way resembled a prison.

    You know the place, Sderot. Known as ‘The bomb shelter capital of the world’ The city which as we ‘speak’ is yet again under rocket fire.

    By the way, the prison of Gaza has managed to fire into Israel to date this year
    599 rockets, some of which were phosphorous tipped and 17 mortars rounds.

    STRANGE PRISON THAT, don’t you think?
    What a way to spent the millions in aid being poured into that prison.

    About 20% of the population in Gaza owns a personal computer – this is more than Portugal, Brazil, Saudi Arabia or Russia. They have access to ADSL and dial-up Internet service, provided by one of four providers.
    About 70% of Gazans own a TV and radio and have access to satellite TV or broadcast TV from the PA or Israel.
    Gaza has well-developed telephone landlines, and extensive mobile telephone services provided by PalTel (Jawwal) and the Israeli provider Cellcom.
    According to USAID report, 81% of households in Gaza have access to a cell phone. The PA-owned cell phone provider Jawwal has more than 1 million cellular subscribers.

    In prisons, they don’t have three-story retail complexes

    They don’t have nightclubs

    They don’t have large luxury hotels. Search for those they have plenty, all with their own Facebook pages.

    In its 9th year, EXPOTECH Technology Week started last week

    Last but not least an Arab web site

  3. michael says:

    Roslyn the Palestinians are solely the cause of their own problems.
    The Palestinians wish to play the victim, they would like to take Israeli Jews down to their level. The sympathy should be directed at Israeli Jews living on the borders and Israelis in general having to put up with Palestinian and Arab intransigence ,ignorance and violent behavior.
    Roslyn with out trying to sound like a broken record if the Arabs would have accepted the umpires decision on November 29, 1947 the Palestinians would have had their plot of land and the Jews theirs.
    We can now see after the so called Arab spring how Arabs can not get along with them selves and how they treat Christians, they will never ever accept Jews in their neighborhood no matter what is given to them.
    The only way for Israel to survive into the future is to have a strong IDF and control their own left wing 5 th columnists.

    Michael Burd

    • Roslyn says:

      Michael, can you explain to me why the Palestinians should have accepted the illegal and immoral partition of their country when no other indigenous people ever have and when most people in the world today accept that the European powers ‘dividing’ up Africa was a crime?A few Jews lived alongside Moslems and Christians in Palestine for centuries. Why should a small minority group be given its own State? More to the point, since religions don’t have land rights, how can it be argued that there was any morality in this decision which was imposed despite the resistance of the majority of the people – including some followers of Judaism?
      The simple reality is that Israel exists just like any coloniser and it needs to deal with that if it is to survive. It does have a right to survive as a coloniser if it gives justice to its indigene but it does not have a right to survive as a religious State – even more so because most Jews don’t live in Israel and don’t want to live in Israel and more than a million Jewish Israelis anyway have emigrated in the past couple of years.
      No-one can win a war of occupation in the modern age. Israel is doomed unless it creates one state with equal rights for all religions given the fact that the two-state solution is pretty well dead in the water. Occupations and colonisations only succeed where you can kill or drive out most if not all of the indigenous people. Israel cannot do that. If it tried world outrage would be so great that even the US would stop funding and the country would be a basket-case and there are many more millions of Palestinians living in refugee camps who would return to their restored country. Israel’s desire for a theocratic apartheid state has sadly, led to its own demise. A democratic Israel which incorporates Palestine might survive although given the resentment one still finds in South Africa from those who were ground under the coloniser’s boot it is hard to see Palestinians wanting to live in a country called Israel. Own goal really! Then again, perhaps the Palestinians are more forgiving and pragmatic. One can only hope so.

      • Shirlee says:

        Firstly Roslyn, there are no such people as Palestinians. Let’s get that very clear.

        There is not, nor has there ever been, a country called Palestine. Palestine has always been a region. It as so named by the Romans who conquered the region to rid it of its Jewish origins.

        The use of the term “Palestinian” for an Arab ethnic group is a modern political creation which has no basis in fact – and had never had any international or academic credibility before 1967.

        The majority of Arabs calling themselves Palestinians originate in Egypt . Hence the abundance of names like El-Masri, which are Egyptian names.

        “Hamas Minister of Interior and National Security Fathi Hammad recently said that the Palestinians actually came from Egypt, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. ”

        “In an attempt to gain Egyptian sympathy, he said that all Palestinians have Arab roots, blood ties in various countries on the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt. Hammad said that half of his family was Egyptian and over thirty large families are named Al-Matzri, from Egypt. Half of all Gazans came from Egypt; the other half came from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. He repeated and clarified: “Who are the Palestinians? We have many families named Al-Matzri, whose roots are Egyptian. Egyptians! They came from Alexandria, Cairo, Dumietta, the North, from Aswan and Upper Egypt. We are Egyptians. We are Arabs. We are Muslims. We are a part of you”.

        These statements stand in stark contrast to the common conception that the Palestinian Arabs have lived within the borders of the State of Israel from “time immemorial”.

        Click on the link below to view Hammad’s comments on MEMRI TV:

  4. Roslyn says:

    There is a reason for that. When was the last time you read a negative story about Aborigines or American Indians, indigenous people fighting against occupiers and colonisers? Admittedly that injustice happened hundreds of years ago and Israel’s occupation is happening today, but even when people look back, most of the focus goes on the oppressor.
    And that is why you rarely see negative stories about the Palestinians because in today’s world they are suffering just as Aborigines and American Indians did in centuries past. Generally one does not hold the oppressed and colonised responsible for the conflict although clearly attempts are made to do just that in the case of Palestine.
    It is called applying principles of justice and human rights. The Palestinians may not be perfect but they commit violence in a bid to gain their freedom and Israel commits it to prevent them having either justice or freedom. And if the Palestinians are dysfunctional then it is the fault of those who occupy, colonise and oppress them.

    • david says:


      You state:

      “Generally one does not hold the oppressed and colonised responsible for the conflict although clearly attempts are made to do just that in the case of Palestine.”

      There are 5 good reasons for regarding the Palestinian Arabs as responsible for their current plight.

      Unlike the Aborigines and the American Indians – the Palestinian Arabs missed the following opportunities for freedom and an end to their conflict with the Jewish people:

      1. 1937 – when offered by the Peel Commission
      2. 1947 – when offered by the United Nations
      3. at any time between 1948-1967 – when not one Jew lived in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem,
      4. at any time between 1967-1993 – when they refused to sit down and negotiate with Israel
      5. in 2000/2001 and 2008 – when offered by Israel.

      The inability of their aberrant leaders on any of the above occasions to compromise their claim to all of former Palestine and the continuing acceptance of those leaders with nary a whimper or any sign of protest from their long suffering constituency has brought nothing but death misery and suffering to the Palestinian Arabs – and also the Jews – over the last 130 years.

      This depressing state of affairs is set to continue whilst Hamas and Fatah are allowed to pursue their failed objectives of trying to erase any existence or recognition of a Jewish state in any part of the biblical and ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.

      Believe it or not – the Jews are also entitled to justice and human rights in their biblical, ancestral and legally recognized and internationally sanctioned homeland.

      You can lead a horse to water but alas you can’t make it drink.

      • Roslyn says:

        No, Australian Aborigines, New Zealand Maoris and North American Indians and all other indigenous people fought against their colonisers as long as they could. The difference is tin those countries ultimately an apology was given and one state with equal rights for all regardless of religion or race was created. The Palestinians are the only indigenous people held under occupation and continued colonisation and denied freedom.
        The Peel Commission and the UN Resolution were certainly immoral and arguably illegal. But for those who hold to the UN Mandate then that means since Israel has no legal borders the only potentially legal borders are the UN Mandate. I take it you support that.
        The Palestinians like all colonised people have sat down with their occupiers it is just that unlike other occupiers Israelis hold to some fantasy that they have rights to Palestine. They don’t, no more than as colonisers. Religions don’t get land rights and if they did the Christians would have Palestine and the Jews would have a slab of Iraq. There is no ancestral homeland for followers of Judaism just as there are no ancestral homelands for any religion. Race yes, religion no.
        It is very simple, Israel cannot maintain its Jewish theocracy apartheid State and must either negotiate with the Palestinians for legitimate borders which allow two fully independent, contiguous states – probably impossible – or it does what everyone else has done and creates one state with equal rights for all – a democracy where all religions are equal. The latter will come anyway and the longer Israel refuses justice to the Palestinians the better the chance that when it does the new state will not be called Israel but will return to its original name of Palestine. No colonised people have power and never have. Full responsibility rests with Israel for more than half a century of suffering and for any outcome.

        • david says:

          To Roslyn

          1. Israel has been “one state with equal rights for all regardless of religion or race” since 1948. The 1.2 million Arabs living in Israel are not “held under occupation and continued colonisation and denied freedom” as you wrongfully claim.

          In contrast 95% of the Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza are under the full civilian administration of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. They don’t seem to be able to have any say in their Governments being changed through fresh elections. They continue to be denied basic human rights by their own people as was made clear by the damning report of Human Rights Watch last week.

          2. The West Bank and Gaza are territories in which competing Jewish and Arab claims to sovereignty still remain to be negotiated and determined. Whilst the Palestinian Authority or any other Arab interlocutor refuses to negotiate with Israel then the current situation there is set to continue until Israel decides to make some unilateral move as it did in Gaza.

          3. Why do you say that the Peel Commission and UN Resolution were “certainly immoral and arguably illegal”?

          4. The only potential legal borders are not those set by the UN Resolution (I presume that is what you meant to say). They were rejected by the Arabs in 1948 and a lot has happened since then. The borders can only now be determined in negotiations between the parties. Going back to the armistice lines of 1948 or 1967 is not going to happen.

          5. If “religions don’t get land rights”can you explain why there are 57 Muslim states in the world today? Are these states regarded by you as being Islamic theocracy apartheid states?

          6. Your statement that “There is no ancestral homeland for followers of Judaism” is clearly rebutted by the unanimous decision of all 51 countries of the League of Nations in 1922 giving recognition “to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country; ” The failure of people like you, Hamas and the PLO to accept that decision has been and will continue to be the source of continuing suffering for both Jews and Arabs.

          • Roslyn says:

            David, Israeli Human Rights groups consistently reveal that non-Jewish Israelis are second-class citizens. However, the ‘one state with equal rights for all’ applies to the fact that Israel occupies all of Palestine and as yet has no legitimate borders beyond the UN mandate so most Palestinians live under Israeli rule where they most definitely do not get anything approximating rights let alone equal.
            You aren’t serious are you when you say the Palestinians living under Israeli occupation are under Hamas or PA control? Do you not understand the meaning of the term occupation? Do you not know that Gaza is a prison, the world’s largest and the IDF control the fence which holds the Palestinians in that prison? Do you not understand that Palestinians live behind checkpoints, fences, walls etc., in what amounts to ‘camps’ or ‘ghettoes’ and those areas are controlled by the IDF armed with guns, tanks and if needed, bombs? Are you seriously trying to say that Hamas and the PA control the IDF in those areas? Of course not. Occupation is occupation and Israel controls everything which happens in the bantustans, ghettoes and concentration camps where Palestinians live. There is euphemism and there is delusion.
            The West Bank and Gaza are not territories they are Palestine. In fact it is all Palestine still beyond perhaps the UN mandated borders and it is all occupied by Israel.
            The Peel Commission and the UN Resolution were immoral and potentially illegal because neither had any right to divide a country when the majority of the people living there opposed it. No-one would accept today such a body dictating that say Egypt or India or perhaps even the US should their original ‘home’ be found to be there, had any right to partition to give the Romanies a home. They remain stateless and as a race and a people they actually have a right to a homeland.
            Religions don’t get land rights in respect of indigenous rights. If Israel wants to be a Jewish theocracy and Saudi a Muslim theocracy that is a matter of religion and politics but no religion has rights to land per se: just because it was founded there or members of the religion, as with the Hebrews, lived there for a time. If religions did have land rights then Iraq would be the Jewish homeland, or a part of it, Palestine the Christian homeland and no doubt Saudi, the Muslim homeland – but they don’t have land rights because they are religions, not races.
            The League of Nations like the UN got it wrong. Judaism may have historical connections with Palestine but that gives the religion no rights to that land.
            The stark reality of it all is that the fantasy that Judaism has rights to Palestine is the source of Israel’s ultimate destruction. Without the religious delusion and denial of the truth of the colonial war which founded Israel on someone else’s land, there would have been a one state solution decades ago where everyone had full rights regardless of religion just as they do in nations founded through colonial wars today. Israel could have been a democracy like Australia, Canada or the US but religion has made it a theocracy and an apartheid State to boot and that cannot last. There is no place for theocracy in a modern world and no place for apartheid in a civilized world.
            Whatever ‘failures’ you may perceive the true failure is that of Judaism and its followers and supporters in trying to create a racist and non-democratic state in the modern age. Israel sadly has failed its people, the religion it espouses to represent, and its supporters and given Judaism a bad name. No doubt this is why most Jews don’t live there, most don’t want to live there and millions are returning to the countries from which they emigrated. That is the greatest failure of all and full responsibility for it rests with Israel and its supporters for denying not simply justice, common decency and democracy, but reason.

    • Emily says:

      Pamela, your argument is so flawed, that I feel responding is futile. How can I possibly start a discussion with someone who truly believes that Palestinian violence is justified? I can only guess from this that you support Hamas, and if that is the case, there is nothing to discuss here.

      Since we cannot agree on even that, what I will say is that your opening sentence is absolutely ridiculous – if Aborigines or Native Americans fired indiscriminate rockets from their own communities into other communities the media would not ignore the issue because of “politics”. More realistically, when interal issues arise in aboriginal communities, the media does in fact report on them. Take the Liam Jurrah issue, which has been reported extensively in the media over the last few months.

      And by the way throwing in words such as “principles of justice” and “human rights” does not make you any sort of expert on the issue. By your logic, the 3 month old baby murdered in her cot while she slept deserved to die, because some murderous Palestinian in the West Bank is allowed to express his desire for freedom.

      • Roslyn says:

        Emily, I think you were replying to me. No, violence is never justified although most people in the world believe, and it is enshrined in UN Resolutions on human rights, that violence carried out by those fighting to free themselves from oppression has mitigating factors. On that basis the violence carried out by Palestinians can be understood and regarded differently, although not condoned, than the violence carried out by Israel to maintain occupation and colonisation. At this point Israel’s State sanctioned terrorism has killed ten times as many Palestinians as they have killed Israelis.
        Your argument seems to suggest you have no problem with occupation and would have been on the side of Nazi Germany not the freedom fighters of Europe and the UK?
        And by the way, if Australia or America had done to its indigenous people what Israel does and locked them into open prisons like Gaza or into bantustans and ghettoes and subjected them to bombs, bullets, imprisonment without trial, torture etc., and they had fired a rocket or two into their occupied lands then world opinion would be on their side, not that of Australia or America just as these days world opinion is on the side of the Palestinians and not their military oppressor, Israel.
        And there is no logic to the death of a child but since you seem to react so powerfully to this can I take it that the slaughter of more than 400 Palestinian children by the Israeli Army when it attacked Gaza troubled you even more? And how about the hundreds of Palestinian children in Gaza shot or killed by sniper fire from Israeli soldiers guarding the electric fence which holds them imprisoned? Or is it okay for Israelis to kill Palestinians in order to maintain their occupation and colonisation?

Speak Your Mind

Comments received without a full name will not be considered
Email addresses are NEVER published! All comments are moderated. J-Wire will publish considered comments by people who provide a real name and email address. Comments that are abusive, rude, defamatory or which contain offensive language will not be published

Got something to say about this?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from J-Wire

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading