Two Articles in the Sydney Morning Herald about the Value of Human Life

All Israel wants is to live in peace with its neighbours

Read more:


Yair Miller is president of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies.

Read more:


MH17, Gaza and the value of human life

Read more:


Waleed Aly is a Fairfax columnist. He hosts Drive on ABC Radio National and is a lecturer in politics at Monash University.

Read more:

Wanting to understand what is happening in Gaza

Rabbi Mordecai Finley, PhD is the spiritual leader of Ohr HaTorah Synagogue in Los Angeles.

Read more: A letter to friends who want to understand what is happening in Gaza | Mordecai Finley | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook


”  . . . .

The martyring of civilians in war is not that uncommon either. Thousands of Japanese committed suicide instead of surrendering to the Americans. Civilians are often proud to die for their country. Gazans, however, are not given the opportunity to choose. By hiding rocket launchers in civilian neighborhoods, by declaring war on Israel without building bomb shelter for their people, means only one thing: Hamas wants to martyr their civilians. It makes an uninformed world blame Israel. This is a very smart tactic. Just don’t fall for it.

My heart breaks for the suffering of the Palestinian people. I pray that they get their state soon, and will live peaceably alongside Israel. There will be lots of wounds to mend in this process on both sides.

But I don’t blame Israel for the civilian suffering of Palestinians that you see. It is a deliberate tactic of war intended to make you feel exactly what you are feeling: sympathy. I feel sympathy as well, but I know who has the responsibility for this suffering: Hamas.”                                                                   ‘

Read more: A letter to friends who want to understand what is happening in Gaza | Mordecai Finley | Ops & Blogs | The Times of Israel
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook




Robertson Station

Last Sunday on the way to Burrawang we stopped with Caroline and Matthew at Robertson Station. Peter and I were reminded that last time we had stopped there was about five years ago. We did take some pictures then of the surroundings of the station. We also took some pictures last Sunday, which was the 27th of July 2014.

I have found now in Peters files the following pictures that we took in April 2009.










I took this picture on Sunday, 28th July 2014
I took this picture on Sunday, 27th July 2014

The following pictures are also from that Sunday.














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These still stand not far from the station. A lot of vegetation has grown around them since 2009 when we took pictures of ourselves in front of them!
These still stand not far from the station. A lot of vegetation has grown around them since 2009 when we took pictures of ourselves in front of them!




Burrawang, NSW, Australia

There's even a bus stop in front of the cafe. Maybe on Sundays there aren't any buses, this is why people parked their cars there.
There’s even a bus stop in front of the cafe. Maybe on Sundays there aren’t any buses, this is why people parked their cars there.

Caroline and Matthew were with us last Sunday, July 27th. Caroline offered to drive us to the highlands. Caroline and Matthew were sitting in the front, so Peter and I could relax in the back. Caroline managed very well to drive all of us up MacQuarie Pass in our little car. We were aiming for a village called Burrawang, where Peter and I had been some time ago. We had quite liked this historical little place and were happy we could go there for another visit.

Here we had a cup of coffee and some cake.
Here we had a cup of coffee and some cake.


This is one of the pictures I took inside of the cafe.
This is one of the pictures I took inside of the cafe.

I took a few more pictures in that cafe:

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Here is what I googled about Burrawang and Wildes Meadow:

“Burrawang is a village in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia in Wingecarribee Shire. According to the 2011 Australian census, Burrawang’s population was 238”

“Wildes Meadow is a hamlet village in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, in Wingecarribee Shire. Due to its location, it does not receive many passers by, and so the tourism industry has suffered as a result.”

Now, if ever we had the idea to relocate to one of these places, just seeing what is on offer for buying would make us give up this idea quick smart. The problem is, that in order to live in one of these places we would have to invest millions which certainly we do not have. Still, even if we cannot live there it is within our reach to visit these places. Actually, this is good enough for me. I am not complaining, not at all.

A charming country cottage idyllically set on 27 acres of serene landscape, now doesn’t this sound lovely? Well, I can keep dreaming about places like this, can’t I? However, I know it is just a dream!


This is a card about a BURRAWANG FESTIVAL which takes place in October 2014.
This is at the back of the card.
This is at the back of the card.

Maybe this is a good way to make a living if you live in this area.

To be a House and PET Sitter? Maybe this is a good way to make a living in this area.

In June 1985 Peter had also done this 8 km FUN RUN.
In June 1985 Peter had done this 8 km FUN RUN.

End of July 2014

Today is already July 30. I think it is about time for me to catch up on my Diary.

The last few weeks have been difficult as far as writing for the diary is concerned. I had often very mixed feelings about what was going on in the world. Usually I felt I could not concentrate enough to do much writing. Just reading what the newspapers said and hearing the news on radio as well as watching them on television became very tiring and upsetting. However whenever I found myself with some spare time I tried to catch up on reading novels. I also went for walks as often as possible. After a bit of walking I usually sat down in the sun for a while to relax. I was always grateful when the winter sun made its appearance. I tried to catch as much of it as possible. 🙂




Displaced Persons

The other day when I was awake in bed for a while, my thoughts went to the refugees from the Eastern Ukraine. I remembered pictures of women and children in Russian refugee camps. One woman had said she wanted to stay in Russia for a limited time only so that when the fighting stops she would be able  to go back to her home town in the Ukraine. Some people may have dual citizenship. These people are of course allowed to stay in Russia indefinitely, others would have to apply for permanent residency if they want to stay in Russia.

For sure it is not a very pleasant experience to have to live in a refugee camp for weeks on end. Who knows when there is going to be peace again in these places where Ukrainians are fighting the insurgents?

TIME FOR UKRAINE TO DIVIDE? The following is an extract of an article by Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald from 2014, July 20th:

It is more than 20 years since the orderly, democratic, bloodless dissolution of Czechoslovakia took place on January 1, 1993, when the Czech Republic and Slovakia came into being as two sovereign nations. Like Ukraine, this was a nation divided with geographic neatness between language and ethnicity.

Read more:


Here is another example where a two state solution ought to be possible and why this did not happen so far:

This is taken from an ABC Australia National program called Rear Vision.




Israel, Palestine and the problem with the two-state solution

Tuesday 22 July 2014 4:51PM
Annabelle Quince

With Israeli troops on the ground in Gaza and casualties rising, international attention is once again focused on the Middle East peace process. The two-state solution is generally accepted as the blueprint to end the decades-old conflict, but intractable issues and deep mistrust remain on both sides, writes Annabelle Quince. 

If it wasn’t clear before this week, the Middle East peace process is in tatters. Israel has launched a ground invasion of Gaza, resulting in the deaths of more than 500 Palestinians and around 20 Israelis.

. . . . . .


‘The majority of the people in Israel do accept the notion of a Palestinian state, but we suspect that most Palestinians don’t accept the notion of a Jewish state. This is the problem,’ says Eiland.

‘Everybody understands that what Clinton proposed nine years ago is probably the only practical solution if we are based on the two-state solution. In other words, it is not only that the concept is well known, but also the details are well-known. So if it is so important to solve the problem, if the concept is acceptable and if the details are so well-known, what is the problem? Why both parties don’t sit together and sign an agreement, and here is the paradox, both parties don’t do it because this solution is not really desired by both sides.’

‘The maximum that the government of Israel, any government of Israel, can offer the Palestinians, is less, much less, than the minimum that any possible Palestinian leader can accept. The gap between both sides is much bigger than the way that it is perceived. Everybody is committed to say that he is committed to this solution, but no-one really, really means it.’

Which leaves the peace process where it is today, mired in mistrust and nearly a century’s worth of grievances, with the blood of both soldiers and civilians flowing once again.

Rear Vision puts contemporary events in their historical context, answering the question, ‘How did it come to this?’

Surge in Refugees in Germany

A Publication by SPIEGEL ONLINE INTERNATIONAL from July 07, 2014

I copied this publication for I am quite distressed that all these wars, hostilities and fighting create such misery for so many refugees.

Growing Influx: Germany Caught Off Guard By Surge in Refugees

Photo Gallery: Germany's Crowded Refugee CentersPhotos

The German government is expecting around 175,000 people to file applications for asylum this year, the highest number in two decades. Regional politicians are acting surprised, but there have been signs of this development for years now.

Last Friday, the state interior ministers of Germany’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) convened for a meeting at the stately Westin Bellevue in Dresden, with a view of the Elbe River and the baroque historic city center. But they weren’t here to discuss the views — the subject at hand was much grimmer: packed school gymnasiums, dwellings made out of shipping containers, cots and other logistical aspects of Germany’s refugee crisis.


Part of the job of state interior ministers in Germany is to ensure that refugees who make their way into country are provided with acceptable accommodations. If you travel through Germany’s cities, you can often see evidence that state governments haven’t been doing their jobs well — and that they’ve been overstrained by the sheer number of people seeking assistance, which has risen dramatically for months.Officials had been hoping that Thomas de Maizière, Germany’s federal interior minister and a member of Chancellor Merkel’s CDU, might present a realistic solution at the Dresden meeting. Germany’s federal parliament passed a new law penned by de Maizière on Thursday that defines Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina — the sources of a massive wave of refugees to Germany during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s — as “safe countries of origin” and expedites the process of rejecting asylum applications for citizens from these countries.

Although de Maizière praised the law at the meeting, it is unlikely that it will be approved by the Bundesrat, Germany’s second legislative chamber, which represents the interests of the states — the CDU and SPD do not have a majority in the Bundesrat, and the Green Party has already expressed its displeasure with the proposed law. And even if it is approved, it isn’t clear if the new rules can slow the influx of refugees.

During their consultations, the ministers gave the impression that developments have caught the country by surprise — almost as if they were being overrun by it. But in fact, large numbers of refugees have been making their way to Germany from the world’s crisis zones for two years now.

Officials Moved too Slowly to Address Problems

The refugees in Germany are fleeing many things: the civil war in Syria, the recent wave of terror in Iraq, torturous regimes but also, in many cases, a life of poverty and no prospects, be it in Africa or as a member of the Roma minority in Serbia. Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) estimates that as many as 175,000 people will apply for asylum in Germany this year alone, the highest number seen in the past 20 years and double the figure for 2013.

In Munich, the state government even considered the idea of erecting tent camps to provide new arrivals with accommodation. What’s happening there is symptomatic of what other municipalities and aid organizations are experiencing: One of Europe’s richest countries is proving unable to provide humane accommodations for refugees. At least part of the problem lies in the fact that government officials failed to plan and properly prepare for the current wave. Cities have been complaining since the beginning of 2012 about having too little money available and too little capacity for providing assistance to refugees. Their complaints were either ignored or went unheard.

The federal interior minister and state governments have done too little to address the problem. There have been faint promises that municipalities and states would be given more money at some point in the future for the care of refugees, but the people are arriving here now.

At the end of June, Pastor Andreas Herden of Inner Mission, the Munich chapter of a Protestant aid organization, spoke openly about the situation in the state. He said it had become inevitable that tent cities would have to be set up at the preliminary reception center in Munich for refugees. In just two days’ time, he said 300 people had arrived at the former military barracks, which were already full. Herden’s public remarks sent a collective chill down the spines of members of the Bavarian state government — they feared that photos making beautiful Munich look no different than a Syrian refugee camp would make their way around the world.

Shortly thereafter, German President Joachim Gauck pleaded with his fellow Germans for a greater sense of humanity. He said the images of coffins in the hangar of Lampedusa airport didn’t fit in with the image “we have of ourselves as Europeans.” Thousands of mostly African refugees have perished in recent years as they sought to make their way to the Italian island, which is located just 113 kilometers (70 miles) from Tunisia.

Germans Growing More Empathetic to Refugees

Gauck’s words struck a chord with Germans. In contrast to the 1990s, there is a greater consensus among society today that refugees should be provided with protection in Germany. Empathy for stranded people — who have made the voyage from Africa, often having given their entire sayings to human-traffickers in the hope of getting to Europe — has replaced old fears of foreigners.

These days, Germans don’t seem to mind taking in refugees from Syria either. German politicians — from Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) right down to members of the Left Party in parliament — have said that Germany has to face up to its international responsibilities by taking in more Syrians. But what good is compassion for the needy if no one is taking care of the practical aspects of refugee relief?

When it opened in 2010, the Munich reception center for new refugees, located at the former Bayernkaserne military barracks, was only meant to be a temporary, back-up location to be used for six months. At the time, 400 people moved in and the Bavarian Interior Ministry promised it would quickly build a new reception center in the smaller city of Deggendorf, where the government had the opportunity to inexpensively purchase buildings that were part of an apparel factory. Munich city officials had originally planned to build new apartments at the site of the barracks.

But then the barracks filled with asylum seekers from the countries affected by the Arab Spring, families from the Balkans, refugees from Eritrea and Nigeria and Syrian war victims. By the winter of 2013, the interim facility had grown into a giant camp with 1,600 people. It became so cramped that a former military equipment hangar was converted into a sleeping facility with beds. As of the end of June of this year, some 2,000 refugees were being accommodated in the barracks.

Influx Exceeds Forecasts

Nowadays, smugglers simply drop their passengers off in small buses on side streets near the barracks. “The influx is exceeding any of our previous forecasts,” laments Bavarian Social Minister Emilia Müller.

The government district of Upper Bavaria, which includes Munich, quickly cleaned up an old truck storage facility on the barracks property and crammed 300 cots inside with stained, thin 5-centimeter (2 inch) thick foam mattresses. Anything had to be better than erecting tent cities, the thinking went.

The same day, officials led journalists on tours through the soot-covered hall, with rain water leaking through the roof. Officials wanted to show the media that the state still had capacity and that everything was under control. But they weren’t shown the quarantine area located just next door, where dozens of people were being kept locked behind iron fences because no doctors were available to give them the quick examination for infectious diseases required under Germany’s Asylum Procedure Law.

A Shortage of Money and Staff

Space problems aside, the reception center — like most German accommodations provided for asylum seekers — is short on money and staff. Günther Bauer, the head of Inner Mission Munich, says that at least 20 employees are needed to provide social counseling for the new arrivals at the Bayernkaserne facility. Currently, he says, there are only 6.5 employees and they are only allowed to enter into the quarantine area in cases of emergency.

Doctors with the public health office are unable to complete the close to 100 examinations that are currently necessary each day. This has created a bottleneck for the refugees who now face long waiting periods before they can obtain their medical certificates, without which they are not allowed to leave the barracks. As they wait, the five-to-10-day deadline in which they can apply to be brought together with family members already living in Germany expires.

After the medical examination, the refugees are taken to decentralized accommodations or community centers. Even after spending weeks in Germany, many refugees aren’t able to meet with the BAMF representatives who are responsible for listening to their stories and reviewing their cases. “Sometimes they spend months in a village waiting for a representative of the office,” says Alexander Thal of the Bavarian Refugees Council, an umbrella group of state organizations providing assistance to asylum seekers. It’s a period of time in which nothing happens. New arrivals are only permitted to seek employment nine months after they get to Germany, and those who haven’t been interviewed also can’t be deported.

The overcrowding in the shelters has been worsened by the BAMF’s personnel shortage, which has led to longer wait times and frustrated those who have already undergone dangerous travels to make it to Germany. On Friday, the police evicted 80 refugee claimants from the agency’s property in Nuremberg who had threatened to begin a hunger strike.

The current federal budget allowed for 300 new BAMF hires, but officials in Nuremberg seem to be struggling to fill those positions. Just recently, eight candidates backed out. The workers who decide on asylum cases usually come from Germany’s government-backed public administration colleges. But the graduates of those institutions are coveted, and now BAMF recruiters are going to job fairs and considering bachelors degree-holders who have learned the basics of public administration.

Besides, in the months it will take to train the new employees, the processing points will continue becoming more crowded. In addition, 150 employees who had been on loan to BAMF from the German Federal Police — to help with the past year’s increased number of refugee claims — will have to return to their original positions, despite the fact that the current number of refugees is considerably higher than it was in 2013. Last week, the staff council of the Federal Police turned down the Interior Ministry’s request to extend the temporary workers’ deputation.

The German Federal Police have little sympathy for their colleagues. They argue that the rising number of asylum requests isn’t some unexpected, new problem — people have aware of it for a long time. “People have known about this for years, and they’ve turned a blind eye to it,” says one high-ranking Federal Police employee.

In most German states, the search for refugee housing is just as disorganized. Refugees are geographically allotted according to the so-called Königsteiner Schlüssel (Königstein Code), which takes tax income and population into account. The western German state of North Rhine-Westfalia and the southeastern state of Bavaria are responsible for accommodating the greatest number of refugees, a container village is also being planned in the central German state of Hesse, where even a former garden center has been repurposed as shelter.

North Rhine-Westphalia is trying to acquire empty British-army barracks from the federal government in the city of Mönchengladbach to create additional capacity. In Upper Bavaria, local authorities want to use school gymnasia and tennis facilities during the summer months, if necessary. The northern German state of Lower Saxony is planning to outfit group accommodations in the Wendland region, in facilities intended to house police securing the transportation of dry-cask radioactive material to the nuclear waste facility in Gorleben.

Not In Our Backyard Complaints

In three years, Hamburg has increased the number of spaces in its refugee processing center from 70 to today’s 1,700. Now the authorities want to open a shelter in the well-heeled Harvestehude neighborhood, where a building belonging to the German armed forces is available. Some high-earners, however, have been resistant to the idea. It is inhumane, they argue, to expose refugees to an affluence that they themselves could never attain.

Protests have also been popping up in the countryside. In the Bavarian municipality of Salzweg, near the Austrian border, village locals have fought against the leasing of an inn for refugee families. In Anzing, near Munich, posters were recently hung in the old forester’s lodge that was supposed to house refugees: They included a rhyme claiming that the 30 men the inn was to house would be a burden for the community. In the Baden-Württemberg town of Fellbach, refugees had to move out of a container village located in the parking lot of a stadium because of neighbor complaints.


Both social welfare organizations and authorities are predicting that the number of asylum seekers will continue to increase until October. The stream of refugees supposedly won’t crest or plateau until the winter, at the earliest. Günther Bauer of Inner Mission Munich is convinced that “the strain from Africa will remain constant.” The German government should have delivered a real refugee policy strategy a long time ago, he argues.But such a strategy doesn’t exist in the EU, or in Germany or Bavaria. Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer has simply stated that his cabinet will now address the massive shortage of accommodations. Minister Müller promised 5,000 new spots for refugees by the end of 2014, an ambitious plan that will be almost impossible to achieve.

Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter, meanwhile, wants to provide the refugees with at least one good-will gesture: TVs for the Bayernkasserne facility so that the new arrivals can watch the World Cup.

Translated from the German by Daryl Lindsey and Thomas Rogers

Refugee Crisis

This is a Report published by ABC Australia:

This is another refugee crisis that personally I am very concerned about.

Refugees crisis grows as Ukraine conflict shows no sign of ending

Updated 44 minutes ago

As the MH17 tragedy focuses the world’s attention on Moscow and Kiev’s deadly battle for eastern Ukraine, thousands of locals continue to flee their homes amid widespread conflict.

Since fighting erupted between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country earlier this year, more than 100,000 people have packed their belongings and travelled to refugee camps, either in Ukraine or across the border in Russia.

In the space of a single week before the MH17 was shot down, the UN says more than 16,000 people fled their homes.

Their destinations are temporary camps elsewhere in Ukraine or in regions like Rostov in southern Russia.

Some have registered as refugees, and thousands more are staying in Russia without visas after Moscow announced Ukrainians could stay for 180 days.

UN officials say many people are reluctant to apply for official refugee status because of fears of reprisals if they return home to Ukraine.


Young mother Natasha fled her home near the city of Donetsk to try and secure a seat for herself and her three kids on a Russia-bound bus.

She told the AFP news agency she had no choice when her town of Krasnogorivka became the frontline in the battle between Ukraine and Russia.

“We left everything and fled in a hurry as they were bombarding the town,” she said.

“Everyone who was able to left at top speed.”


Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of manipulating the figures on how many people have made the journey, and the exact numbers are difficult to verify.

The latest estimate from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is that 110,000 people have crossed to Russia in 2014, with around 10,000 applying for official refugee status.

Russia’s figures are much higher. Anatoly Kuznetsov, Russia’s deputy head of federal migration, says almost 500,000 Ukrainians have crossed the border since the start of violence last year.


Politicians from Ukraine and the West say this is part of Russia’s propaganda campaign to paint Ukraine as the aggressors and Russia as saviours.

They point to the fact that pro-Russian rebels in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic have set up their own “refugee committee” to ferry busloads of people to southern Russia.

Russia has already declared emergency situations in six regions near the Ukraine border, and deputy emergencies minister Vladimir Artamonov says two other regions are in “elevated readiness”.


Regardless of the numbers, the UNHCR says the conflict in eastern Ukraine has created an urgent humanitarian crisis.

“The rise in numbers of the past week coincides with a recent deterioration of the situation in eastern Ukraine,” said spokeswoman Melissa Fleming before MH17 was shot down.

“Displaced people cite worsening law and order, fear of abductions, human rights violations, and the disruption of state services.”


Law and order is almost non-existent in the region, with pro-Russian separatist fighters wrestling for control with the Ukrainian military.

Russia continues to argue it is not allied with the pro-Russian militias, but most leading world leaders and intelligence analysts say there is little doubt Moscow is supporting and supplying the fighters.


Topics: unrest-conflict-and-warrefugeesukrainerussian-federation

Collapse: Revisiting the Adam and Eve Myth

A very interesting book review about how previous civilisations fared. Maybe we could learn a bit from that when we compare it with where humankind is at at present. 🙂

The Most Revolutionary Act

short history of progress

A Short History of Progress

by Ronald Wright (2004 Caroll and Graf)

Book Review

The theme of A Short History of Progress is social collapse. In it, Canadian historical archeologist Ronald Wright summarizes humankind’s biological and cultural evolution, as well as tracing the role of ecological destruction in the collapse of the some of the most significant civilizations (Sumer, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Easter Island and the Mayan civilization). Exhaustively researched, the book advances the theory that many of colossal blunders made by modern leaders are very old mistakes made by earlier civilizations. Wright starts with the mystery of the agricultural revolution that occurred around 10,000 BC, when Homo sapiens ceased to rely on hunting and berry-picking and began growing their own food. Twelve thousand years ago, the global population was still small enough that there was more than ample wild food to feed…

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