20 August, 2014

A letter to Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia

21 August 2014

Dear Prime Minister
I understand that you share my disgust with beheadings. This is not difficult to agree upon. For me, the murder of another human being is unconscionable. I maintain this consistently and strive for solutions that do not require or minimize the use of violence.  It would be preferable to bring these offenders to trial at The Hague; rather than blow-up large tracts of Iraq. The Australian federal government has applied this principle selectively and this approach may be worsening the problem that it is trying to solve. The Attorney General is in the process of introducing new anti-terrorism laws, but Muslims are not the only people who can be extreme in their views and inflict violent acts on others. As Dr Anne Aly stated on ABC RN on Wednesday 20 August 2014, much of the appeal of groups like IS is through claims of victimhood and applying that logic in urging young men (mainly) to protect their community:

“Underlying all this is a mentality, this victim identity that is used as a kind of springboard for the idea that you have to protect your Muslim community. Victimhood is a very powerful call for collective action.” Anne Aly
As Dr Aly pointed out, this applies to Neo Nazis and white supremacists in similar ways. She said that Germany has effective programmes to address radicalisation issues. Please explore this.
There is a very intense problem in your approach to consultations with Muslims, Prime Minister, that you appear to be lecturing Muslim leaders, rather than attentively listening to them and drawing upon their experience with the intent of producing more effective and acceptable legislation. As we have heard, some of Melbourne's Muslim community-leaders have refused to meet you because of what they see as your hectoring tone and frankly a colonialist and assimilationist attitude. However, I remember a long list of political leaders, notably Brendan Nelson and Kim Beazley who took the approach a few years ago that Muslims, and only Muslims, should 'go back where they came from'. That insult stays with people for a long time when they feel threatened and when successful settlement depends on a confidence in making plans to stay where they are, building careers and families.
Your term, 'team Australia' is inherently coercive and exclusionary. It sounds like a re-play of those earlier times when unfortunate and hurtful things were said. It will result in social division. If you look at what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri, USA, that is somewhere this country should not go. A Prime Minister needs to be much less cavalier and more empathetic. Please practice attentive listening, it may bear better fruit.
I find it astonishing that the word Gaza barely passes your lips. I find it quite shocking that you and your Ministers have no comments to make on the military excesses committed by Israel and the unacceptably high civilian death and injury rate among the population of Gaza. I do have an understanding of Just War concepts and military necessity. The ruins of Gaza do not relate in any way to either Israeli defence or military necessity. What words will you have for the Muslim community to explain this callous apparent indifference to suffering?
If you are serious about protecting Australia from terrorist attacks, there are a number of courses of action you should initiate without too much delay. Whilst talking with Muslims, it is prudent to also talk even-handedly with Zionist leaders about the 400 or so young Australians going to Israel to join the IDF and, in Ben Zygier’s case, Mossad. There they learn to use military weapons in real situations to inflict terror against civilians. This is not only a military skill. They are not fighting another army that has attack helicopters and tanks like theirs. It is a traumatic experience, which has been described in some detail by former IDF soldiers. You are also aware that IDF soldiers on deployment routinely deface places of worship, both Muslim and Christian and leave the homes of Palestinians in a state of utter destruction and chaos. In short, young Australians who join the IDF learn to hate Palestinians and to act violently towards them. Their PTSD, bitterness and confusion can lead to societal problems like those you fear from Jihadi veterans.
In conclusion, a more even-handed policy toward Israel could contribute to a situation in which Muslim Australians would feel affinity with their/our government and not find our foreign policy so offensive and so alienating. Then we might persuade some Jihadis to stay home and keep the peace.
Please give this letter due consideration and do not allow a staff member to serve one of those dismissive replies. I want a serious reply from you because I care about this country and how we walk in the world. Please.

Willy Bach

“Underlying all this is a mentality, this victim identity that is used as a kind of springboard for the idea that you have to protect your Muslim community. Victimhood is a very powerful call for collective action.”

On the footer it says:
The Hon. Tony Abbott, MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
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Blogger Julian Cribb said...

Well I hope you receive a thoughtful reply. You certainly deserve it. But attentive listening (or reading) are not among this mob's skillset. Nobody and nothing matters other than their peculiarly self-centred worldview.
As a congenital optimist myself, it goes hard to call out another optimist but, mate, you may well be pissing into the breeze on this one.

5:02 PM  

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