The following op-ed by Henryk Broder about the immigration crisis in Europe was originally published in Die Welt. Many thanks to JLH for the translation:
We Did Not Cause the Refugee Misery
by Henryk Broder
The problem of refugees should be solved where it originates — in accordance with the principle of who caused it — and with the aid of organizations responsible for “Islamic solidarity.”
Recently, the actor Benno Fürmann was a guest on “aspects” — the cultural magazine show on ZDF (German Television II). Not to promote a new film or a new book, but to report on his trip to the island of Lampedusa, whither he had traveled to put a face on an action by Amnesty International. His face.
Fürmann was not pleased by the reporting about the people “who are chipping away at our status quo.” He does not see “this humanism we talk so much about and do so little for.” Lebanon has taken in one million Syrians; and all of Europe just 140,000. These numbers are out of proportion to the fear that is being “stirred up” against the refugees. This, he said, cannot go on. “As Germans and Europeans, we are to blame.”
Then, in a video clip, the internal European statistics are given. “In Sweden, 1,960 refugees per 1 million residents are taken. In Germany, 470 per 1 million residents.” That was what Benno Fürmann meant when he spoke of “lack of support.” “What we are doing is not good enough, considering how well off we are right now and what we are capable of doing.”
According to estimates by the UN refugee aid organizations, the civil war in Syria alone has “forced almost ten million Syrians to flee.” In a population of 21 million, that means that almost every second Syrian has had to flee from the violence committed by one side or the other. Three million are living/camping in neighboring countries — in Turkey, in Lebanon, in Jordan and in Iraq. Approximately seven million of them are wandering around in their own country. It is a once-in-a-century catastrophe — a genocide.
The “Peaceful Solution” Was Not a Good Idea
How many of these people should “we” take in so as not to be guilty of “lacking in support” as Benno Fürmann puts it? A million? Two million? How about all of them? What would be appropriate and sufficient, measured on the scale of how well off we are and what we are capable of doing?
Genocide is not a natural event with deadly consequences — not an earthquake, not a volcanic eruption, not some accident where a ship collides with an iceberg. It is a drama in several acts with an announcement and a prelude. Should the, let us say, “performance” be interrupted in time, there would be neither a bloody crescendo on the battlefield nor an epilogue in refugee camps.
Seen that way: Over three years ago, when the civil war began, “we” — Germany, Europe, NATO, the USA, the UN — had the choice to intervene or observe. And “we” decided to wait and watch, out of fear that an intervention would set off a “spiral of violence” and lead to a “firestorm.” President Obama talked about “red lines,” which he instantly forgot. The spiral of violence began and now we have the “firestorm,” which has left us aghast. How could it come to this?
The advocates of a “peaceful solution” are dumbstruck. More and more moralists are being heard from, who say we are guilty “as Germans and Europeans.” Unfortunately, they neglect to say guilty of what and in regard to whom. Even if it is possible, with a strain, to make the case that without the Holocaust carried out against the Jews, Israel would not have been founded, and therefore “we” are somehow complicit in the fate of the Palestinians (“victims of the victims”), there is no justification at all for assigning us guilt for the Syrian civil war.
Likewise in Iraq, where Shi’ites and Sunnis are maintaining a thousand- year tradition by fighting each other. The fact that several hundred German citizens have joined the army of the Islamic State could possibly justify a minimal attribution of guilt. All there is, is a general duty to help people in trouble, as the captain of a ship is obliged to take shipwreck survivors on board, to drop them off at the next harbor.
In dealing with the victims of wars in Iraq and Syria, the principle should be: You break it, you fix it. Unless, that is, you make “colonialism” and “arbitrary borders” responsible for all the ills of the world and fantasize that, without colonialism, heavenly conditions would prevail in Africa and the Middle East.
At some point, societies as well as individuals will mature and be responsible for their own actions. Especially if they have declared themselves states, elevated “sovereignty” as a principle, and have a seat in the UN, in the WHO and in the Universal Postal Union.
Naturally the law of causality is more difficult to enforce on the international stage than in the law governing corporations and other associations. But there are organizations that would be in a position to intervene if one of their members could not cope with a situation.
What is the Arab League Doing?
For example, The Arab League, founded in Cairo in 1945. Twenty-one African and Asian nations belong to it, including Syria and Iraq. Among the tasks of The Arab League is “Furtherance of the relationships of members in the political, cultural, social and economic areas,” which can certainly be interpreted as an obligation to help in emergencies.
Then there is the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), previously the Organization of the Islamic Conference, an amalgamation of 56 states “in which Islam is the state religion, the religion of the majority of the population or the religion of a large minority.” It was founded in 1969 in Rabat, Morocco. The original concern of the Organization of the Islamic Conference was freeing Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa mosque from the Israeli occupation. Its platform was expanded in 1972.
The foreign minister of the OIC issued a charter in which “Promotion of Islamic solidarity and political, economic, social, cultural and scientific cooperation among member states” was named the top goal. Further, the intent was to support Muslims in their efforts to achieve “dignity, independence and national rights.”
In 1969, the “Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam” was agreed upon, which deviated in one essential point from the UN’s “General Declaration of Human Rights” of 1948: Sharia would be the basis for interpreting human rights. And human rights in general were thus relativized.
It is difficult to judge what The Arab League and the OIC are accomplishing today. It looks as if they are holding pompous conferences and calling for resistance against the rampant Islamophobia in Europe.
So it is that much more incomprehensible that they should encourage victims of the wars in Syria and Iraq in their dangerous flight to an Islamophobic Europe, instead of taking them in themselves. Even if they are not able to put together a pan-Arabic army to pacify Syria and Iraq, they should at least take the lead in the acceptance and integration of the refugees. It would be a tailor-made task for the countries of The Arab League and the OIC. Thus far, only Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan have been prepared to do that.
This kind of temporary solution would be better for the refugees. It is more than doubtful whether they will ever be able to return to their homeland. Settling them in Europe would be risky — not just climatically and culturally — and would be beneficial only for the aid industry.
Europe is not managing its self-made problems. The euro is approaching its limits, economic production is decreasing, social tensions are increasing. Only two of the eighteen euro countries are still credit-rated “triple A” — Germany and Luxembourg. Even Finland, Holland and Austria were recently downgraded.
Anyone Can Make His Cottage Available
The only ones who spread any confidence are Brussels bureaucrats like Martin Schulz, who believes that the problem can be solved by a “reform of our immigration laws.” Aided by an “allocation formula” for regulating the acceptance of immigrants among the countries of the EU.
But we are dealing not with immigrants, but with refugees. And they know exactly where they want to go. Not Bulgaria, Poland or Romania…not even Greece or Portugal or Spain, but Germany and Sweden, and for good reasons, which have to do with social welfare legislation.
It is not necessary to be as extreme as Australia, attempting to scare off potential refugees by convincing them that they would not feel at home there. But we should think about urgently asking the Arab League and the OIC to take on the problem, to solve it regionally and permanently. Where it started.
Anyone who does not find that to be sufficient is free to offer his cottage in Bogenhausen or in the Grünewald to a refugee family. And guarantee that he won’t worry about them for the next ten years.
|Photo 1:||A refugee camp for Syrian Kurds on the Turkish border|
|Photo 2:||United under a photo of the Kaaba in Mecca. A meeting of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation in Jeddah in August