Are there adults in the room?

Radio New Zealand news reader: “An international relations expert says that it’s important that New Zealand is seen to be supporting the International Court of Justice’s ruling that Israel must immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah. The UN’s highest court made the ruling because of the risk to Palestinian lives in Gaza. Robert Patman of the University of Otago says the ruling won’t stop Israel attacking but may contribute to its growing isolation.

Robert Patman: Governments of Germany and the UK, all those governments are going to come under a lot of domestic pressure now. After all, it’s the western liberal democracies that believe in an international rules based order, and the highest court in the world hasn’t got enforcement powers, but it doesn’t look good for liberal democracy to effectively say that one’s actually above the law.

Radio New Zealand News 9:00am 26 May 2024.


Kia ora Trevor Baker,
Your formal complaint has been received by Radio New Zealand. Under the standards regime, we have 20 working days for audio and 10 days for text-based complaints in which to respond to you and I expect we will have our reply to you within that time. If for some reason, such as leave commitments or sickness, we are unable to respond to you within those times, there is a further provision for an extension of time and I will write to you again if that becomes necessary.

In the meantime, your formal complaint will be processed against the standards or principles which you have nominated.

A copy of your complaint can be seen below:

Radio New Zealand National

Broadcast time (if applicable):
Radio New Zealand News 9am 26 May 2024

On 29 February 2024 the New Zealand Government identified that in its entirety Hamas is a terrorist organisation. The operation in Rafah discussed in this news bulletin could be argued to be a police action against Hamas. The Radio New Zealand bulletin failed to present this alternate perspective. As per I argue that the October 7 2023 massacre, [which] the perpetrators call Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, is a mass psychotic episode. This has yet to be disproved. I argue that a range of views in relation to the subject were not sought and this news item therefore breaches the fairness standard.

The position presented by “an International Relations expert” Professor Robert Patman as reported on the identified news bulletin is that “it [the ICJ ruling] may contribute to its [Israel’s] growing isolation”. Robert Patman reports that “liberal democracies such as Germany and the UK are coming under a lot of domestic pressure now”. He does not acknowledge that in omitting the possibility of Israel undertaking a police action against Hamas, his opinion piece breaches the balance standard and may further contribute to isolating Israel. I argue that as a result of omitting the range of views suggested above this news item was intended to influence his Radio New Zealand audience to contribute to Israel’s growing isolation in breach of the discrimination and denigration standard. The news item did not at any time discuss the possibility that Israel is fighting Hamas and that Hamas is hiding behind the Gaza civilian population nor the possibility of mass psychotic episode for example.

I understand that the ICJ ruling is for Israel to stop military activities that could result in the destruction of the civilian population sheltering there. Circa 950,000 civilians sheltering in Rafah have been evacuated by Israel in compliance with the ICJ ruling. The Radio New Zealand news bulletin omitted this detail and was therefore incomplete. I argue that it breached the accuracy standard.

I understand that it is illegal under New Zealand’s censorship laws for the manifesto of the perpetrator of the Christchurch shootings to be published in New Zealand. I query why the same protection is not being provided the victims of the 7 October 2023 massacre many of whom are still being held hostage. I argue that through the above omissions Robert Patman was promoting the view that Israel is acting in breach of the ICJ ruling and argue this breached the illegal and antisocial behaviour standard.

Standards/principles breached:
Promotion of Illegal or Antisocial Behaviour, Discrimination and Denigration, Balance, Accuracy, Fairness


Robert Patman offers no theory in relation to the 7 October 2023 massacre to justify the assertion that it is “important that New Zealand… contribute to Israel’s growing isolation”. The astonishing effort Israel has gone to protect the civilian population of Rafah is omitted. As a corollary Israel’s compliance with the ICJ ruling is denied. Patman’s intention is to deny Israel agency. He is partisan. If successful the captivity of those taken hostage will be extended and the likelihood of hostages being taken in future increased. In seeking to isolate Israel Robert Patman is actively supporting Hamas. One would expect “an international relations expert” to understand this.

The events since 7 October are profoundly confronting. To avoid recurrence we need to understand how the gates of hell were unleashed.

Scientific method is intrinsically cooperative. A hypothesis is posited. Others corroborate, qualify or repudiate it. It is a collaborative effort. Often challenging, it is an experience which builds relationships and from which everyone can learn. I drew on Shakespeare’s reference to The Baker’s Daughter fairytale in Hamlet to create a framework upon which to establish the theory that the 7 October 2023 massacre was a psychotic episode. It is articulated in If true, the approach to its treatment is not unfamiliar, does not involve violence and will naturally lead to the release of the hostages. It will not however be easy. I encourage you to watch the video, Isaac’s Story produced by the New Zealand Ministry of Education Te Kahu Toi, Intensive Wraparound Service.

To those who have skipped viewing the video before reading these words, 12 year old Isaac has Aspergers, Autism and Oppositional Defiance Disorder diagnoses. At the end of the video he states, “I want kids to be happy and I want them to have a better life. That’s the main reason why I did this video”.

The treatment will be difficult to scale. At this time there are not enough adults in the room, metaphorically speaking to pull it off. I encourage you to view the video. Our assistance may be required.

About the Author
Of Jewish parents, from shortly after my sixth birthday I was a boarder at an Anglican boarding school. My parents hosted Columbo Plan students for many years and our family home was a place where they were welcome to hang out. I enjoy reading Shakespeare and Jung. I have Arts and Engineering degrees and work as an Enterprise Architect.
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