From David Hardaker’s Opinion Page 24 Sep 2014’s not enough to simply be ‘tough on terror’

Updated yesterday at 4:00pmWed 24 Sep 2014, 4:00pm

A military and security response might win the battle against terrorism, but not the war. Western powers also need to address the pervasive sense of victimhood, whether it’s justified or not, giving rise to Islamic State, writes David Hardaker.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has a way with words. It’s his great strength but at the same time his great weakness. Slogans like “debt and deficit disaster” and “budget emergency” have the power to cut through the political white noise, but they undermine his credibility when they are revealed for the hyperbole they are.

What applies domestically is now being played out on the international stage with Mr Abbott’s description of the so-called Islamic State movement as a “death cult”. It’s a memorable slogan and the author himself seems impressed with it. But like its domestic cousins, it is ultimately worthless.

There’s no doubt that the rise of the so-called “Islamic State” represents one of the most serious issues to confront Middle Eastern countries and Western policy makers. It is true that the movement is prepared to use extreme violence to achieve its aims and that there is little alternative – in the short term – to a tough military response to stop the movement killing anyone it defines as its enemy.

But as they used to say about the leader of Al Qaeda: you can kill Bin Laden, but not Bin Ladenism. Similarly, the current military action might “degrade” (to use the term du jour) the Islamic State. But what of the longer term future and the conditions which keep giving rise to fundamentalist movements which are prepared to call for and use violence against the West?

A security response alone is not enough. It might win the battle but not the war. If anything, it serves to ramp up fundamentalist action and enlist more recruits.

And what applies in Iraq and Syria also applies domestically: by all means strengthen anti-terrorism laws and deploy 800 police to detain 15 people or so. But what of the causes and motivations?

It is tempting for politicians (of all stripes) to rush to a security response, whether by military action internationally or a stiffened local policing initiative such as Operation Hammerhead. Indeed, proving the old adage that every cloud has a silver lining, the Islamic State “death cult” has become something of a popularity lifeline for a Prime Minister who has threatened to sink in his first term.

But there is a certain circularity about being “tough on terror” as your sole response: it almost guarantees there will be more terror to be tough on in the future, and more popularity to be gained by being tough on terror. And so on, ad infinitum.

The most dangerous aspect of the “Islamic State” movement (and Al Qaeda, for that matter) is the hard-core sense of victimhood that it represents in the Middle East region, especially among the young. It is beside the point whether this sense of victimhood is justified or not. The serious issue confronting Western powers – and indeed the Australian Government and Muslim community locally – is how to deal with it and defeat it.

About 50 per cent of Arab populations are under the age of 25. Many of them are poor and without opportunity. Many feel a sense of helplessness and alienation from their governments who they have seen as corrupt and self-interested – and, most importantly, as clients of the United States.

The Arab Spring appeared to offer a way out, to a future of (possibly religious) self-determination, if not democracy. Yet that promise has unravelled and in its place there has been an increasingly ferocious crackdown on movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood – again at the seeming behest of the United States or at least regional governments with close relations with the USA.

This sense of victimhood is reflected in the common view in the Middle East that the attacks of September 11, 2001, were orchestrated not by Al Qaeda but by the CIA (and Israel’s security agency, Mossad, depending on the version you get). When you challenge this view, some will tell you that only the United States has the ability to organise such an attack.

These are but some of the grievances, real and/or imagined. The issue is not whether they are justified or not – but how to turn a sense of victimhood into something else which does not involve violent action.

So we can talk about “death cults” and send troops to “degrade” the Islamic State movement. As a short-term fix, it may work. And it will certainly lead to a jump in the polls.

But when we hear the murderous words of the “Islamic State” and its call to kill the “unbelievers” wherever they are and by whatever means possible, we need to pay attention to more than just the rhetoric. And in Australia the last thing we want is for those words to resonate with a young Muslim.

What we desperately need to hear now is a new plan, couched in new language. This applies not only internationally but also locally.

Yes, it’s a tall order with such a complex set of problems besetting the Middle East, but it will demand a new form of leadership, new alliances and new “de-victimising” actions.

David Hardaker is a television producer and a Walkley award winning journalist. He is a former ABC Middle East correspondent and has lived and worked in Egypt. View his full profile here.

Topics: terrorism, islam, world-politics, unrest-conflict-and-war

First posted yesterday at 3:52pmWed 24 Sep 2014, 3:52pm

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




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

Towards the End of World War II

In Germany in 1944 no single unemployed woman was allowed to remain without a job. However married women with children were not obliged to work for the war effort. My cousin Renate in Leipzig was in her last year of high-school. After finishing high-school you would get the ‘Abitur’ qualifying you for university studies. Renate had to finish school half a year early. She did get only a ‘Not-Abitur’. She had to finish with this ‘Not-Abitur’ because she was required to work in a munitions factory.

 Aunty Ilse, being a single person, was supposed to have a regular job. Everyone who was capable to work, had to work for the war effort! That meant Ilse had to prove that she had a proper job. Naturally Werner M came to the rescue again. ‘You can work for me in the office,’ he said. And office work she did, however not in the office, but at home. She did not even have to collect the work!

One of the workers, who lived in our complex, was given the task of handing over the sheets of work-paper to Mrs. Ilse S. He did this when he came home from work. When Aunty had finished the paper-work , he took everything to the office on the way to his work-place. How did he transport the papers? He simply fastened the bundles unto the back of his bike. This worker was Herr F. He was a smith by trade and worked for Werner M. – – A smith was always needed in a huge estate with lots of horses and farm equipment. Even though Herr F was a qualified trades-man, he and his family lived extremely simple lives; indeed, he did not seem to live any better than an unqualified worker.

Mr. and Mrs. F, had two sons; one was ten, the other one fourteen. The older one was quite talented. He built complicated mechanical things out of odd bits and pieces. I admired him very much. The younger son told Edith and me stories about the ‘Lamp Angel’ (Lampen-Engel) who was supposed to have kerosine-lamps in a straight line out in the country away from any built-up areas to distract bombers, who might accidentally have come to our countryside.

A few times I went with Edith and Bodo in search of these lamps. Yet we never could find any of them. Unfortunately the neighbour’s son, who had told us the story, was not willing to come along with us to show us where the lamps were. To this day, I really do not know, whether there ever had been any lamps!

Both sons of the neighbours went to Lichtenow village primary school, the same school that Edith and I went to. The school had eight school-years. After year eight you had to leave and start work or learn a trade. Students who wanted to go to high-school, were supposed to enroll at high-school after finishing year four of primary school. By September 1944 I should have started high-school. However I had no chance to travel to high-school from where we lived at the time. Mum said: ‘Since you skipped year three, it does not matter, if you repeat year four. Next year the war will be over anyway and then we do not have to live here anymore and you can be enrolled in high-school. But I want you to go to a different village-school now and start again with year four. I made enquiries in Herzfelde. The primary school in Herzfelde is much larger then the one in Lichtenow. So this is why I’ve enrolled you in Herzfelde.’

I went to Herzfelde Primary for three months only. By the end of January 1945 we had moved to Leipzig to stay with Grandma. All schooling had stopped by then. We felt more and more, that it was very close to the end of the war.

During the warmer months of 1944 we did a lot of athletics at the Lichtenow school. There was running, high-jump and long-jump. There was also an athletics’ carnival in which only students who were ten years or older were allowed to participate. I was not quite ten yet, but they let me join anyway. I was good at running for my age. In all the jumps I was just average.

I had plenty of opportunity to practise high-jump at home. Mt. T and his brother, who was at the Ausbau for a visit, set up two poles with a line to jump over. The line could be set higher or lower. It was set very low for Edith and for Bob. The T brothers were both quite good sportsmen and could still jump astonishingly high, even though they were both well over forty.

I often thought that the afternoons at the Ausbau were boring. What was there to do for me? Not much. When the weather was fine, I liked to go for walks, always wishing, that the landscape were not as dreary. I longed for a variety of trees and the view of a lake or a river.

During the colder season we had sometimes real terrible winds. On the way to the outside toilets we had to turn around the corner of the house to walk to the shedlike building at the back. You had to be quite brave to turn the corner, when that gusty wind was blowing, blowing, blowing. Winds like that were unknown to us in the city. Well, the Ausbau was in open country area after all.

We had a warm lunch when I came home from school at about one. And after that in the afternoon there was nothing to do! Maybe a bit of home-work here and there. But this certainly did not take all afternoon. When we had to stay in the playroom because of bad weather, I usually read a book. I loved reading. I was glad I could borrow books from Mrs. T. She had dozens of books for girls, which she had kept from her own childhood and which eight year old Edith was not able to read yet.

Naturally my two younger brothers and Edith and I sometimes played together as well as talking to each other. Still I missed all my friends from Berlin. In Berlin I was always surrounded by many different children. We all lived in the same street; it was easy to see each other on a daily basis.

One Thursday during the summer school-holidays Mum came home from Berlin with excellent news. ‘Guess what?’ she said ‘I saw Rose-Mary today! She is going to stay in Berlin for a few weeks and I asked her, would she like to come and stay with you at the Ausbau for one week. I could pick her up next Thursday and take her back to Berlin the following Thursday.’

I cried with delight: ‘Oh, Mum, that’s excellent! I love to have Rose-Mary here for a visit!’

The visit took place as Mum had planned. Rose-Mary and I went for lots of walks . We had so much to talk about that we hardly noticed, how dreary the landscape looked. Once we went into the direction where the lamps of the ‘Lampen-Engel’ were supposed to be. However we never saw any lamps.

I felt a bit jealous, that Rose-Mary was allowed to stay in Berlin for a little while during school-holidays. I could never talk Mum into letting me stay in Berlin, not even for a day. Mum always said, that it was too dangerous since there could be bomb raids day-time or night-time. I was not to be put into danger. And that was it.

During that summer of 1944 I learned to swim. We had summer holidays. On a hot day Bodo and I went on our bikes some distance past the Lichtenow school to an artificial lake, which people called ‘Bruch’. It was possible to swim in it. Dozens of people were stretched out on some grass near the lake or frolicked in the water. I went in up to where the water reached my chest. Then I tried to lie on my tummy reaching out my hands to touch the ground. After a while, I noticed my hands had left the ground and I was swimming in the water! What a thrill that was! Being nearly ten I was finally able to swim. What an achievement! Bodo had stayed obediently in shallow water. I could not wait to go to him to share the great news with him.

I remember I had to wear an old two-piece swimsuit of my mother’s which she had sewn together for me. Later on in the year Mum found in a shop in Berlin a proper swimming costume for me which she was able to buy with some coupons. I was given that swimsuit for Christmas. It looked lovely. There were some little orange pictures of girls with bath-caps all over the costume.

The swimming costume was a perfect fit and I was fantasising how I would wear it the following summer. Unfortunately I was never able to wear it since it got lost during the upheaval of moving to Leipzig. —

Towards the end of January 1945, when we were about to leave the Ausbau, Mum, Aunty Ilse and Mrs. T as well as Katja and Maria were busy all night killing all our rabbits and chooks and preserving the whole lot in glasses. We ended up taking quite a few of these glasses to Leipzig, where miraculously they survived the total distruction of our house during a bomb raid in the pantry next to a very strong wall. Not one glass was shattered! I myself though was not able to at any of the rabbit- or chicken-meat, since from early childhood on I’ve never been able to eat this kind of meat. …

Before we left the Ausbau, all the furniture in the house was pushed together as much as possible. Some beds had been dismantled already. But we children were meant to get some sleep in spite of all the commotion. I was put with Edith in one room. The two of us were much too excited to sleep. We kept ourselves awake for hours singing all the songs we knew. Edith taught me a few new songs which I had not known until then. Yet I still know them now. One song was a song from Tirol about some young men who go looking over the fence to see a girl, the one who looks after the cows.

Ja wenn wir schaun, schaun, schaun

übern Zaun, Zaun, Zaun,

in das schöne Land Tirol –

Ja dann freuet sich die Sennerin,

ja wenn wir schaun, schaun, schaun übern Zaun.

Ja wenn wir gucken, gucken, gucken

durch die Lucken, Lucken, Lucken,

in das schöne Land Tirol –

Ja dann freuet sich die Sennerin,

ja wenn wir gucken, gucken, durch die Lucken, Lucken, Lucken …


Post W W  II

I am thinking back to what our education was like in Germany after WW II. We had hardly any school books. For a long time very few new books could be printed because of shortages due to the war. The stock of books in school libraries was also very limited.

A lot of the teachers did not return from the war or had not been trained adequately because of the war. The majority of our teachers were women teachers. I remember however two very ancient male teachers: They were most likely in their seventies. Modern history lessons were not allowed to be taught. We dwelled on ancient history, however no books on that subject were available. We were also taught physics and chemistry without having access to any books. Biology? Yes , it was taught, but again no books what so ever. As I remember, there were a few basic books for English, French and Latin from the school library.

What puzzles me now, is how in the whole of Germany there was a totally anti-militaristic mood. Germans had had absolutely enough of all the fighting. Germans were longing for peace and prosperity. Nobody wanted to experience any war activities ever again! War toys for children were forbidden. No German child in those days was encouraged to play war games, and the children who had seen with their own eyes what war was like, did not long to play with toy guns and the like.

Is this, how Germans prospered soon after the war, by neglecting to spend any energy on the build-up of war-machines as well as armies? As we know, the East German Republic went a rather different way and did not prosper the way the West German Republic prospered. Now I am asking myself, why spend huge amounts of money on the build-up of war-machines and armies? Should not an adequate police force be sufficient for every country? But here we are. The sale of weapons is as good a business as ever. Even ‘weapons of mass destruction’ are still being produced. And we have no guarantee that there is adequate control over who can use them at what time and under which circumstances. Why contemplate using them at all? I do not understand. Why build them? It does not make any sense to me.

When I was a teenager in postwar Germany, America stood for FREEDOM and Prosperity. We did not see the USA as a country who would need to fight wars. Why has the picture changed so much? Who’s fault is it? As a teenager in potwar Germany I and my whole family were desperately poor. But I believed in the good of people. I believed that people could live peacefully together, that people did not need to fight wars, that people could prosper. Somehow I still wish to believe all this despite the reality that tells me, people are a long way from achieving this kind of peace all over the world.



Some of my children know a bit about our lucky escape in 1945. In case they want to find out a bit more about it, I am now trying to write down whatever I do remember.

During the last war years we had stayed away from Berlin, living east of Berlin in a desolate country area. With the Russians fast approaching at the beginning of 1945, my mother decided, we would move to grandmother’s place in Leipzig, rather than go back to Berlin to our apartment which we still rented. We children were never allowed to visit Berlin during the years of the bomb raids.

From the beginning of February 1945 my mother, my two brothers and I stayed in Leipzig with grandmother and cousin Renata. As I remember it, there were frequent bomb raids. We were used to the sound of the sirens and having to stay in the cellar for hours at a time.

After Christmas, schools had not opened any more. We played a lot in the surrounding streets with other children. But we were never allowed to stroll very far. In case of an alarm , we had to be within the vicinity of our cellar. For us children this was just part of every day life. My brothers were three and six years, I was ten years old. The winter was very cold, but we still had enough to eat, were dressed warmly. In the kitchen there was always a fire going in the oven for cooking and for hot water. In the bedrooms we had enormous feather-beds to keep us warm.

There was talking about that this bloody war was soon to end. We sure were looking forward to this! I cannot remember ever having been scared or thinking that anything bad could happen to me. Or to my family. To us children it seemed rather entertaining to be sitting in the air-raid shelter. Many people congregating as soon as the sirens went off, was extremely exciting! We did get to know everyone, who lived in that tall five story building. The adults would talk to us children, asking us questions, just being friendly.

And we would listen to the adults talking to each other. I remember that I always found it interesting to listen to adult conversations. And sometimes all of us would sing a few songs. I loved the singing of songs! When we could hear bombs hitting somewhere in the neighbourhood, it never seemed very close to us. This meant we were all right. Often my three year old brother entertained everyone by singing solo. They were cute little children’s songs. People always encouraged him to sing more songs because they loved his singing.

In April there was another bomb-raid. We had a relaxing time with everybody in the cellar. It was a long lasting alarm, went on for hours. Since it was in the middle of the night, mum wanted us to go to sleep. We were able to stretch out a bit on our makeshift beds. But I don’t think we were able to go to sleep that night. My brother Peter was still singing his songs when several bombs hit us. This time there could be no doubt that the bombs had fallen right on top of us since the noise was absolutely deafening! My six year old brother Bodo started crying. I felt so sorry for him. It was terrible seeing him being so horribly scared. I said to him he needn’t be afraid. Soon everything would be over.

I was right. It did not take long at all. All of a sudden, it was very quiet. Then some people started moving, investigating, whether we could still get out. Our main exit was full of debris. Impossible to get out there. There was a bricked-in escape to the cellar of the next door building. To make use of this escape, quite a few bricks would have to be dislodged. Then someone shouted that the window, that led from the cellar to the footpath in one of the adjoining cellar-rooms, was not blocked. It was easy, to get out through there!

A sigh of relief went through the crowd. My brother Bodo was not scared any more either. My brother Peter had never been scared at all. People said, this was because he had still been too little to understand. Later on, we found, that the building had been hit by up to five bombs. Right to the ground-floor,  everything had been torn away. Miraculously, a lot of the ground-floor was still standing. This was my grandmother’s apartment! My grandmother was able to save some of her furniture together with all our belongings. A lucky escape indeed.