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Update – 4 October 2012

Posted by Emily Gian on 4 October 2012 at 2:27pm:

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. Sadly, little has changed).

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).

Fairfax 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.

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 anti-Semitic 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 anti-Semitic 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 anti-Semitic 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.

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