Thomas Schirrmacher
Relevant ProMundis Blogposts

Michael Schwartz, Ethnic “Cleansing” in Modern Times

3. Oktober 2015 von · Leave a Comment 

Michael Schwartz. Ethnische ‚Säuberungen’ in der Moderne: Globale Wechselwirkungen nationalistischer und rassistischer Gewaltpolitik im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert: … Darstellungen Zur Zeitgeschichte, Band 95. Oldenbourg Verlag: München, 2013. 697 pp. €69,00

Michael Schwartz, an assistant professor at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich-Berlin (Institut für Zeitgeschichte München-Berlin) and a lecturer in modern history at Münster University (Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität Münster), has written a classic on a disturbing topic which should stir people from all the free countries around the world. It is quite rightly observed on the jacket of the book that

“Ethnic ‘cleansings’ are the dark side of our modern democratization and nation-building. As early as the 19th century, the Balkans and the non-European colonies developed into locations where this form of problem resolution was learned. Beginning in 1914, these techniques of violence came back to hit Europe. In both of the World Wars their destructive power exceeded everything that anyone could have imagined. Since that time, developments in the world have been shaped by ethnic ‘cleansings,’ – from Palestine, India/Pakistan all the way to Rwanda, where in the past there would have been peaceful alternatives. Michael Schwartz describes the global connections and showcases the shocking diversity with examples of acts of ethnic violence in our modern world. This difficulty has never been presented with more urgency and dedication.”

What is understood by ‘ethnic cleansing’ is the removal of an ethnic, national, or religious group from a certain territory. This occurs through violent displacement, resettlement, population exchange, deportation, or murder. The term emerged internationally during the wars in Yugoslavia in 1992 as a translation out from the Serbian language (etničko čišćenje) and has established its use around the world in recent decades. The term and the word ‘cleansing’ always belong in quotation marks since it is a euphemistic expression by the perpetrator.

Of course, the term designates something which is much older. Ethnic ‘cleansing’ is in a certain sense a broader term for genocide, which represents the worst, but not the sole form, of ethnic ‘cleansing.’ On the back side of his book, Schwartz especially mentions the intention to drive out or remove an ethnic group from an area claimed by the perpetrators.

The victims of ethnic ‘cleansing’ often belong to a party (for instance an ethnic or religious group) which likewise has wings which utilize violence. Indeed, as the consequence of a planned population exchange, it can be that those who are perpetrators and victims in a region are found to be the victims and the perpetrators in another region. In the case of a shift in the distribution of power, revenge can result in perpetrators and victims exchanging roles.

The central thesis of the book is as follows: Ethnic ‘cleansings’ are unthinkable without the context of the modern West. They are closely linked with the emergence of modern nation states and with nationalism as a legitimization of modern states (p. 6). According to Schwartz, deportations and the displacement of people groups are the dark side of the building of nation states – continuing to the present day. In his book he successfully places this thesis in a global context; ethnic ‘cleansings’ are the signature of modernity. They are, as Schwartz writes, the dark side of democratization and of the building of nation states:

“The formation of ethnically homogeneous states has not been a natural development and in no case a peaceful development. Rather, it has been a violent process which has not been concluded.”

Surely there were ethnic ‘cleansings’ – according to Schwartz – in the past (7), above all at the beginning of the banishment of Muslims from Spain in the 17th century. This is when ethnic ‘cleansings’ gradually began to replace religious ‘cleansings.’ But present day Europe, he claims, actually did not begin until the Serbian and Greek revolts of 1804 und 1821, when the modern nationalism of Western and Central Europe leapt over to Eastern Europe (6). According to Schwartz, this is where one finds the final transition from religious to ethnic ‘cleansing’ (9). If in 1555 the saying was “cuius regio eius religio” (he who rules the region, decides on the religion), beginning in the 19th century it was “cuius regio eius natio” (he who rules the region decides on the nation). In 1555 it was set down that those who had the wrong religious affiliation had to emigrate – if not worse – and then it came to be applied to the wrong ethnic background.

Already according to the writings of Edward H. Carr (1945), ethnic ‘cleansings’ were seen to be a consequence of the 1789 French Revolution. That is when massive ‘sacrifices’ of human life were taken for granted for the idol of ‘nationalism.’ Therefore, genocide and ethnic ‘cleansings’ are inconceivable without the modern administrative state. This idea has been primarily defended by Zygmunt Bauman, for whom above all the holocaust would not have been conceivable without the modern industrial society and its bureaucracy. In such a society, the legal and authoritative guidelines and the breakdown of events into individual, rationally optimized processes (technically and morally) enabled things which, as an overall picture, would truly have scared away the parties involved. For this reason, the Holocaust was not the result of uncontrolled feelings. Rather, it was the result of the rationality of the modern state (Zygmunt Bauman. Dialectic of Modernity. London: Sage, 2000).

Schwartz provides many proofs and examples of this view, which extends far beyond genocide. Ethnic ‘cleansings’ are, for that reason, a part of modernity and, with that said, also a part of the history of democracy. They cannot be simply assigned to dictators.

“He correctly emphasizes that the comprehensive population exchange between Greece and Turkey, as was regulated in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, was if nothing else a work of two democratic states, namely France and Great Britain. And Churchill as well as Roosevelt saw their optional courses of action largely in relation to the world of experience brought on by Lausanne. Ethnic ‘cleansings’ thus actually not only comprise a dark side of modernity. Rather, they are also the dark side of democracy, as the American sociologist Michael Mann once formulated it” (Carsten Kretschmann, FAZ).

Schwartz addresses colonial genocide around 1900 in Southwest Africa, the Indian massacres of 1947, and our present day Near East conflicts, to mention just a few examples. They allow one to surmise that completeness with respect to his topic is not to be achieved, even if the term were to be specified more precisely and rigidly limited.

However, Schwartz does not only mention examples briefly. He takes them up more rigorously, handling them in a thorough manner. And he does this with respect to every ethnic ‘cleansing’ that has its own research debate. For instance, Schwartz does this with the question of the genocide of Armenians and the question of whether the displacement of Germans from Eastern Europe in 1945 comes under this rubric (according to Schwartz) or whether it was a ‘humane’ and legally enacted resettlement (according to what were once socialist states).

As a rule, however, Schwartz emphasizes certain features. On the one hand, that applies to the ‘early places of learning,’ above all in the Balkans, where nationalization and ethnic ‘cleansing’ have sinisterly gone hand in hand since the early 19th century. On the other hand, this applies to World War I, the consequence of which was not only that colonial powers ‘returned home.’ Rather, at the same time, people groups became victims of arbitrary treatment and violence: Armenians (‘genocidal deportation’) and likewise Greeks (‘deportation and genocide’) and Jews (‘impeded deportation’). Above all, however, this applies to the racist displacement and resettlement policies of the Nationalist Socialist regime, in particular with respect to the killing of Jews.

Schwartz treats ’cleansing’ settlement democracies in American and Australia in the 19th century (189-202), genocide and deportation in the colonies around 1900, for example in Southwest Africa and in the Philippines (202-219), and how this spilled over into colonies within Europe (220-235). What followed was “national liberation through displacement” with respect to Muslims in the 19th century: Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria (238-261); alternating projects of intervention and coexistence in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, and Macedonia (261-297), and the culmination in the 1912/13 Balkan wars (298-309) – in 1912 the victims were primarily Muslims and in 1913 primarily Christians.

All parties to World War I at least played with the thought of ethnic ‘cleansing,’ be it as an ‘ordered population exchange’ (309-318) or as displacement. The climax in World War I was the genocide of Armenians (61-98) and of Ottoman Greeks (98-114).

“The concept of ethnic ‘cleansing’ in the intellectual discourse of World War I was not the sole possession of a single party involved in the war. Between 1914 and 1919, the fronts escalated on all sides. What fascinated intellectuals and academics was the thought of organizing a post-war future with ‘clean’ separations between nations and, with that, having peace, even thereby hoping to safeguard humanity” (60).

World War I brought on population movements in a magnitude which had been inconceivable up to that time. For instance, Czarist Russia itself deported 700,000 ethnic Germans and up to one million Jews from its western provinces to the east. The worst example of such excesses was surely the murder of Armenians by Turks.

According to Schwartz, there were three models (319-424) during the period between the World Wars from 1919-1939. There was the 1919 Versailles model with protection for minorities, which was hardly able to be asserted. There was the 1929 Moscow model with federalism and autonomy, and finally there was the model of the Lausanne Agreement, which planned peaceful population exchanges to avoid violent separation of ethnic groups but which in reality ended in ethnic ‘cleansings.’

The 1923 Lausanne Agreement separated “Turks” and “Greeks” (396-424), for instance, whereby the forced resettlement of two million people from two empires became two nation-states. From 1918 to 1925, 1.38 million Germans living in Poland migrated to the scaled-down German Empire.

The Third Reich and the Holocaust are naturally featured (425-466), but so are the resettlement agreements of World War II generally (467-491). The transfer plans of the anti-Hitler coalition follow (492-519). Stalin’s punitive actions initially followed cries regarding class-struggle, but then increasingly became ethnic ‘cleansings’ (519-532). A very good presentation is made of the movement of refugees during World War II and displacement after World War II, with a total of 2 million deaths (532-564), and the 1946-1950 forced resettlement which was enacted (564-578). There were 31 million people in Central and Eastern Europe who became the victims of forced migration policies (579). In parallel, there were 30 million victims as part of decolonization, 4 million of whom met their death (579-580).

Schwartz gives a detailed discussion of the two large cases of ethnic ‘cleansing’ after 1945 with millions of victims, respectively: the displacement of Germans from central and eastern Europe (564-578) and the population exchange and displacement on the Indian subcontinent (580-599) when the British colony disintegrated into two states. In the process, the number of victims is difficult to estimate. Schwartz comes to a number of 17.5 million victims, of whom 200,000-600,000 were fatal victims (580-599). Finally, Schwartz presents the situation in Israel and Palestine since 1947 (600-621).

From my point of view, it is very unfortunate that the book ends at around 1950 – apart from brief perspectives on Palestine and the Indian subcontinent. What has happened since 1950? What has happened in eponymous Serbia? How does the thesis of modernity as a precondition for ethnic ‘cleansings’ relate to ‘cleansings’ in Africa (e.g., Sudan) or in the Near East (e.g., Turkey and the Kurds, IS in Syria and Iraq)? One can only hope that the author makes up for this in a subsequent volume in order to bring the debate completely up to date!

Not always, but often and above all at the beginning, resettlements and population exchanges have been planned as civil and sensible means. However, practically without exception, they have slowly or more quickly slipped into violent conflicts. For instance, this occurred at the end of the British colonial era in India, where theoretically all Muslims were released to resettle in Pakistan. Hindus were likewise released to leave Pakistan. And yet, when the stream of resettlers brushed up against each other as they passed, the atmosphere heated up more and more until it evolved into an unbelievable amount of bloodshed.

The September 1913 agreement in Constantinople between Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire counts as the first peace agreement which foresaw a planned population exchange between the contractual partners, with the goal of an ethnic rectification. Both preceding Balkan wars (1912/1913) were threatened by strong ethnically justified violence, by which civilians on both sides were killed and displaced. It was hoped that with the peace agreement, the problem would be able to be resolved by geographically separating the involved ethnicities.

The Situation regarding Religious Freedom – an Indicator of the Situation regarding Human Rights?!

30. September 2015 von · Leave a Comment 

Theses for a lecture for a closed-door meeting of the CDU/CSU fraction’s Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid (Led by: Erika Steinbach, MP) in the German Parliament (“Deutscher Bundestag”) on February 23, 2015 in the Ambassy of the Free State of Bavaria in Berlin on the topic “Religious Freedom and Democratic Development”. (Invitation as PDF-File)

The Lack of Commitment to Religious Freedom as  Indicator #1: The global View

  • How the Jewish religious minority was dealt with was the best indicator of the situation regarding human rights in the Third Reich.
  • How Christians, Jews, Shiites, and atheists are dealt with is the best indicator of the situation regarding human rights in Saudi Arabia.
  • How Christians, Jews, Sunnis, Baha’i, and atheists are dealt with is the best indicator of the situation regarding human rights in Iran.
  • How Christians, Jews, Shiites, Ahmadiyyas, and atheists are dealt with is the best indicator of the situation regarding human rights in Pakistan.
  • How Hindus, Christians, and Muslims are dealt with is the best indicator of the situation regarding human rights in Buddhist Sri Lanka.
  • How Christians, Yazidis, and Shiites are dealt with is the best indicator of the situation regarding human rights in IS areas in Syria and Iraq.
  • That Greece has not completely become a part of the community of shared values within the EU is best shown through its limited religious freedom, for the European Court for Human Rights condemns Greece on account of no other reason more frequently.

The Lack of Commitment to Religious Freedom as Indicator #2: the Islamic World

  • The Arabellion has been unable to become an expression of true democracy without a call for religious freedom.
  • The attempt to introduce democracy fails when religious freedom is not seen as a component of democracy, as Egypt, for instance, has demonstrated.
  • In Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, etc.: There is little hope for the return of permanent, stable, and peaceful conditions in these countries, among others, because no one has religious freedom and the protection of religious minorities on the agenda. In the case of IS and other Islamist movements, the persecution of religious minorities within and outside of Islam is a part of their DNA. The first Islamist writings, dating from the 1920’s, for instance by Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, revolve around who is an unbeliever and, for that reason, who should in no case become a citizen. In the case of Maududi, this applied equally to Ahmadiyya Muslims as well as Christians.
  • For a long time, Erdogan improved many things in Turkey, such that it appeared that he had given up the Islamism of his early days. He has not been able to get beyond himself to grant religious minorities religious freedom, in particular Christians. This has been the case, even though the EU, for instance, has very clearly and repeatedly demanded this. Erdogan’s actions could have been taken by everyone as evidence that he has remained an Islamist in his heart. An Islamist can simply not advocate religious freedom. (This is not meant to dispute the fact that Erdogan’s Kemalist predecessor government restricted religious freedom much more radically, that there has been progress under Erdogan and that the largest opposition party, as heirs of Kemalism, is still not to be trusted in matters of religious freedom.)
  • The reverse is the case with the circumstances surrounding the new President of Indonesia, who long advocated religious freedom. For a decade, he ruled together with a Christian as Vice-Governor, who automatically took over the office of Governor. This was a good indicator for seeing an overall improvement in human rights.

If Religious Freedom is trampled under Foot, then everyone suffers in the End

  • The Third Reich shows that initially Jews were persecuted. However, in time, everyone was endangered. As a result, denigrating a neighbor for having contact with Jews became increasingly easy. Limiting the religious freedom of religious minorities quickly leads to adherents of majority religions being affected and doomed.
  • The apostasy laws in Pakistan are a modern example of this. They were originally made for Ahmadiyyas and Christians. However, in the meantime they largely affect Muslims. Muslims almost always – even in the sense of these mistaken laws – wrongly denounce other Muslims.

Human Rights are a Unit and are inextricably linked

  • There is not a country to point to in history or in the present where religious minorities have been or are oppressed and where otherwise the human rights situation was or is in order.
  • Religious minorities are often at the same time ethnic or social minorities, with the result that not only religious freedom is violated when they are discriminated against or oppressed. Christians and Buddhist Dalits in India are a good example.
  • Human rights form a unity within human dignity and are closely linked. It is, practically viewed, not the case that only one human right is violated in an isolated manner. One and the same act can simultaneously violate a number of human rights, for instance when a woman who is a member of a religious minority is tortured. This simultaneously violates women’s rights, religious freedom, and the prohibition against torture.
  • Religious freedom is tied most closely to freedom of conscience and freedom of opinion. However, religious freedom is also tied to freedom of the press, the freedom to assemble, and the right to a fair trial, for example.
  • As is the case with freedom of the press, freedom of conscience, and the freedom of opinion, religious freedom can never only be a private right. Rather, it is based on a right expressed in public, as is made clear in several respects in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (public exercise, public propagation, change of religion). What would it mean for an individual to have his right to hold an opinion privately at home or to formulate products for the press at home but not be able to disclose them?
  • Part of the battle against human rights violations is first of all concentrating on particularly severe and proportionately frequent human rights violations. For that reason, one can also speak about Christian persecution, even though one is against the persecution of every religious minority and advocates indivisible religious freedom for all.

Conclusion: Trust no one who speaks about human rights but does not advocate the religious freedom of others!

Schirrmacher endorses MissionNet 2015

26. September 2015 von · Leave a Comment 

Here my endorsement of the European youth mission congress end of the year in Offenburg/Germany, as it is used in the prospectus and elsewhere:

Be transformed to be a cosmopolitan for Jesus through MissionNet! And than start to transform the world through the gospel of Jesus together with a social network of other young Christians! I recommend MissionNet wholeheartedly.

I am 55 and wish I was 20 again! It’s amazing how many opportunities are open by the globalization to travel, to learn, and to have Facebook friends all around the world. How easy can young Christians be snapped into the global awakening of the body of Christ today. MissionNet is an excellent starting point for this: Spiritual impulses from the worldwide missionary movement, thousands of ideas on how you can join in and friends, friends, friends. And all this organized and moderated by trusted leaders. A stunner!

Prof. Dr. theol. Dr. phil. Thomas Schirrmacher // Chair, Theological Commission, World Evangelical Alliance

“I congratulate the Dalai Lama: Islamic Leaders could learn from him!”

24. September 2015 von · Leave a Comment 

A commentary by the Director of the International Institute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Schirrmacher, on the most recent pronouncement by the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama has decided that he does not wish to have a successor. In his view, the “institution of the Dalai Lama” is no longer necessary. Together with his having dispensed with all political offices and claims to leadership two years ago, this is an act with far-reaching implications for the relationship between religions and states around the world. Since there are discussions about what the Dalai Lama actually said, I can point you here to link to Die Welt. As long as the Dalai Lama himself does not say anything different, this has to be viewed as his present view of things.

Thomas Schirrmacher in conversation with Kelsang Gyaltsen, Special Envoy of the Dalai Lama to Europe (Photo © Markus Scherf / IGFM)

Thomas Schirrmacher in conversation with Kelsang Gyaltsen, Special Envoy of the Dalai Lama to Europe (Photo © Markus Scherf / IGFM)

In order to state it very generally: While in some countries and religions there are religious leaders fortifying their positions and misusing religion for political claims (one need only think about the Hindutva movement in India, the developments in Iraq or in Russia and Ukraine), there are other religious leaders who are recognizably decreasing their activity in this sphere, such as is now the case with the Dalai Lama.

Two years ago, the Dalai Lama gave up all political offices and claims to being a representative of Tibetans and of exiled Tibetans. Instead, exiled Tibetans chose the legal scholar Lobsang Sangay as the Prime Minister-in-exile. That was a joyful day as far as religious freedom and the separation of church and state are concerned. What is decisive about this is the following: The Dalai Lama no longer derives any political claim to leadership from his religious claims. In a 2012 paper entitled “Declaration of the Dalai Lama on the Question of his Reincarnation,” the Dalai Lama presented how his successor will be able to be found. This was invalidated by his new declaration, even if he obviously cannot determine what his adherents do after his death. Whether it had to do with a pharaoh, a Roman emperor, a Chinese emperor, or a Medieval pope: Millennia ago and centuries ago it was almost self-evident that political and religious power went hand in hand and that political power was rooted in to God or by equality with God. This era should actually be over, and thus it is gratifying when the last remaining survivors with this notion voluntarily give up this view.

Pope Benedict and now Pope Francis made and continue to make it increasingly clear that the Catholic Church, in its essence and in its calling, is not a state. The Vatican has long since been guarded by the Italian police, and in the UN or the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), it only votes as a member state when it comes to questions of human rights and religious freedom. When it comes to political questions, it basically does not vote. Indeed, there are still some exceptions. The Japanese Emperor still sees himself as the son of a goddess. However, he has no political influence, and religious freedom in Japan is very extensive. (See the segment “The Tenno as the highest Shinto Priest”.)

The sole significant exception remains the Islamic world. Indeed, Islam’s strict monotheism excludes a state head from being God or of divine origin, but the separation between religious leadership and the state is often not safeguarded. And anyway, Iran is the only country in the world where political leadership is appointed and controlled by religious leaders. In technical language that is called hierocracy (rule by priests or ecclesiastics). Via Hamas, Hezbollah, and other movements, Iran is seeking to export this idea. On the other hand, in many Islamic countries it is the political leadership which uses, propagates, and bosses Islam around. And then there are countries such as Pakistan or Afghanistan, where one no longer knows who is actually pulling the strings and who rules whom: are the religious leaders ruling the political leaders or are the political leaders ruling the religious leaders?

In any event, the Islamic world could learn from the Dalai Lama that religious authority and political power do not belong in the same hands and that more good is done when religious leaders themselves limit their political power than when they expand their claims.

The End of the divine Emperor 

In an article I wrote 24 years ago, “China im Umbruch” [“China undergoing Upheavel”; Ethos 8/1991: 32-37; it later appeared in a similar form in Lesson 60.12. in my work Ethik (Ethics)] I wrote the following: “When one takes a look at the tremendously large constructions of the divine emperors in the Imperial Palace in Peking, the capital of China, and sees the many thousands of Chinese and foreign tourists who meander astonishingly through the individual areas, one recognizes again just how ephemeral all human power is, even if man declares himself to be God and his rule is for that reason held to be eternal. What was one once held to be the center of the universe (to be precise, the center of the universe was the center of the Altar of Heaven in the Temple of Heaven e [‘Tianan’], south of the Imperial Palace) is now entered by everyone irreverently, touched, and marveled at as if it were from a fairytale book. What would have once cost an individual his life is meaningless today.

Whether it was the Egyptian pharaohs, the Roman emperors, or the Chinese emperors: All of them wanted to be the supreme ruler and the highest priest in one and justified this by holding themselves to be descendants of the gods, or incarnations of God, or had in some other way a part of the nature of God. That meant the deification of the state. All over the world, they left the most extraordinary structures which were meant to demonstrate this divine priestly kingship: pyramids, victory arches, palaces, temples, and mausoleums. And yet all these stately structures which are marveled at by tourists demonstrate at the same time that they were neither priests of the true God nor had divine character.

The number of priestly divine kings all over the world has dropped over the course of the millennia, and their number has rapidly dropped since the emergence of Christianity.

When the Japanese Emperor Akihito, the high priest of Shintoism, ascended the throne, many Japanese Christians expressed their concern that the development could quickly turn against Christians and against the constitutional state. Are their concerns justified, although in practice nothing at all has changed? Absolutely. For hundreds of years, the Japanese emperor justified his rule by uniting himself with a goddess when he was enthroned and at the same time by being the high priest of the state religion. He was the “Tenno” (divine emperor), the gods’ representative on earth who made laws but who was not subject to law. When the Americans defeated Japan in 1945, the Japanese Emperor was only allowed to remain because he swore to forgo the office of Tenno and to no longer claim any religious authority. This was the precondition for enabling the new constitution to contain more human rights and more equity. The Emperor at the time held to this for 45 years, up to the time of his death. And yet, to the shock of many, his son allowed himself to be enthroned as a god in 1990. Expensive and extensive ceremonies followed the ancient ritual, in the center of which is a nighttime unification with the sun goddess Ameratasu, through whom an emperor allegedly first achieves his divine essence. The first act of office of the new Emperor was to present a sacrifice for this goddess. Now there is the threat that obedience towards the state and towards the religion of the ruler will be placed on an equal plane, something which cost many Christians their lives in the early church in their conflict with the state. Despite this, many representatives of democratic countries naively participated in the enthronement.

In spite of these examples, one can see that the time of divine priestly kings has passed, and the few people who still claim such a position for themselves fortunately no longer possess any true power.

Hamas is entitled to fire at a Nuclear Reactor without there being global Outrage!

21. September 2015 von · Leave a Comment 

During its last conflict with Israel, Hamas fired Iranian mid-range missiles numerous times at the Israeli Dimona nuclear reactor 80 kilometers southeast of Gaza in the Negev Desert. A number of missiles just missed the nuclear reactor, while others were intercepted by the Iron Dome

Anyone else who perpetrated such madness would encounter the outrage of the entire civilized world, regardless of whatever wrong preceded it. Not so with Hamas.

Anyone else who perpetrated such madness would be a permanent topic for the UN Security Council. Not so with Hamas.

Anyone else who perpetrated such madness would meet the embittered protest of neighboring countries, which depending on the weather could be strongly affected in the case of a nuclear worst case scenario (MCA, or Maximum Credible Accident).

It apparently did not bother the terrorists in their concrete tunnels that it they had hit their target, they would have irreversibly exposed their own population to contamination with radiation.

All of that has nothing to do with the question of how one stands regarding Israel’s policies, which way of resolving the conflict one prefers, and indeed who is right or wrong when it comes to the Holy Land. All of this also has nothing to do with the question of what Israel had been doing or is doing with the reactor, whether nuclear warheads had been produced there or are even stored there and whether the outdated reactor should be taken out of commission today rather than tomorrow. If nuclear warheads are actually being stored there, what the terrorists did is even worse and more dangerous.

Whoever launches missiles at nuclear power plants should not be permitted to be anyone’s dialog partner. There should be only one thing at stake: how to put a stop to this. That means the following on the ground: How can it be ensured that the elected Palestinian government regain power in its own country and not be hindered in its rule by terrorists. The following should not be forgotten: Hamas and the masterminds in the Gaza Strip have up to now been unsuccessful in bringing the West Bank into the conflict! The responsible parties there deserve praise that in the middle of war they have been successful in keeping the West Bank out of the military conflict.

Note: Terrorists and extremists who go unopposed become more and more extreme. Terrorism is like an addiction. The dosage has to continually be increased and, like every addiction, causes one to lose touch with reality. The madness, the risk tolerance, the danger, and the brutality increase with every intensification of the addiction, in the case of heroin just as in the case of uncontrolled violence. Hamas demonstrates this in Israel, and IS demonstrates this in Iraq.

Thomas Schirrmacher