New Age Islam Edit Bureau
7 september 2015
Israeli Terrorists, Born In The U.S.A.
By SARA YAEL HIRSCHHORN
Taliban Without Mullah Omar
A Side Agreement Could Void The Iran Deal
By Mike Pompeo And David B. Rivkin Jr.
Will The U.S. Be Forced To Face Russia In… Syria?
By Brooklyn Middleton
Unbearable Burden On Human Conscience
When Children Kill Children: Continuous Exposure To Violence Results In The Idea That Violence Is Acceptable
Aasha Mehreen Amin
Israeli Terrorists, Born in the U.S.A.
By SARA YAEL HIRSCHHORN
SEPT. 4, 2015
ON July 31, in the West Bank village of Duma, 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh was burned alive in a fire. All available evidence suggests that the blaze was a deliberate act of settler terrorism. More disturbingly, several of the alleged instigators, currently being detained indefinitely, are not native-born Israelis — they have American roots.
But there has been little outcry in their communities. Settler rabbis and the leaders of American immigrant communities in the West Bank have either played down their crime or offered muted criticism.
It’s worth recalling the response of the former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to another heinous attack two decades ago, when an American-born doctor, Baruch Goldstein, gunned down dozens of Palestinians while they prayed in Hebron.
“He grew in a swamp whose murderous sources are found here, and across the sea; they are foreign to Judaism, they are not ours,” thundered Mr. Rabin before the Knesset in February 1994. “You are a foreign implant. You are an errant weed. Sensible Judaism spits you out.”
The shocking 1994 massacre was, at the time, the bloodiest outbreak of settler terrorism Israelis and Palestinians had ever seen. Less than two years later, Mr. Rabin himself would be dead, felled by an ultranationalist assassin’s bullet.
Suddenly, a group of American Jewish immigrants that had existed on the fringes of society became a national pariah. A former president of Israel, Chaim Herzog, labeled the United States “a breeding ground” for Jewish terror; the daily newspaper Maariv castigated American Jews who “send their lunatic children to Israel.” One Israeli journalist even demanded “operative steps against the Goldsteins of tomorrow” by banning the immigration of militant American Jews.
But tomorrow has arrived.
After years of impunity for settlers who commit violent crimes, Israel’s internal security agency, the Shin Bet, has now supposedly cracked down by rounding up a grand total of four youths believed to be connected to recent acts of settler terrorism — three of whom trace their origins to the United States.
The agency’s “most wanted” Jewish extremist is 24-year-old Meir Ettinger, who has an august pedigree in racist and violent circles. He is a grandson of Meir Kahane, a radical American rabbi who in 1971 immigrated to Israel, established the Kach party and served as its lone Knesset member until it was banned in 1988. (Kahane was assassinated in New York in 1990, but his career laid the groundwork for ultranationalist and antidemocratic parties in Israel.)
Another is Mordechai Meyer, 18, from the settlement of Maale Adumim outside Jerusalem. He is the son of American immigrants who claimed he simply wanted to study the Torah and have an adventure in the West Bank. Another American settler, Ephraim Khantsis, was detained for threatening Shin Bet agents in court. The fourth, Eviatar Slonim, is the child of Australian Jews.
Mr. Ettinger, Mr. Meyer and Mr. Khantsis join a long list of settler extremists with American roots. A Brooklyn-born settler, Era Rapaport, played a prominent role in the car-bombing of the mayor of Nablus in 1980. In 1982, a Baltimore transplant, Alan Goodman, opened fire at the Dome of the Rock, killing two Palestinians and wounding 11. That same year, a former Brooklynite, Yoel Lerner, was jailed for leading a movement to overthrow the Israeli government and blow up the Temple Mount.
These days, rabbis like the St. Louis-born Yitzhak Ginsburg, who heads a yeshiva in the radical settlement of Yizhar, are inculcating the next generation.
Today, according to American government sources and several other studies, an estimated 12 to 15 percent of settlers (approximately 60,000 people) hail from the United States. This disproportionately large American contingent — relative to the total number of American-Israelis — has joined secular, religious and ultra-Orthodox Israelis, and other more recent immigrants. Few of them live in extremist hilltop outposts; a majority live in suburbanized settlements near Jerusalem, but they are considered among the most highly ideological.
RATHER than quoting the Bible or rhapsodizing about a messianic vision, they tend to describe their activities in the language of American values and idealism — as an opportunity to defend human rights and live in the “whole land of Israel” — often over a cup of Starbucks coffee in their boxy aluminum prefab houses or in the mansions of settlement suburbia. To them, living in the West Bank is pioneering on the new frontier; it’s merely an inconvenience that they’re often staking their claims on private Palestinian land. And for a fanatical fringe among them, this Wild West analogy has extended to indiscriminate violence.
Despite living in self-selecting communities that sometimes include violent activists, many law-abiding American settlers continue to see themselves as good liberals (a large percentage were Democratic voters involved in the civil rights movement and anti-Vietnam War struggle before moving to Israel).
As far back as the 1990s, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the founder and spiritual leader of the settlement of Efrat, seized upon this outlook, declaring, “I marched with Martin Luther King and feel very strongly about equal rights.” But, to him, settlers were now the victims. “We’re not fighting against an enemy who plays by the same rules as we do,” he argued. “Given the cruelty and barbarism of the Arabs to their own people, our ethical imperative is not to commit suicide.” He went so far as to compare the settlers to African-Americans during the civil rights movement. Another American settler activist, Yechiel Leiter, drew on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to illustrate that “independence and freedom have their price.”
Not only is this belief still intrinsic to the self-image of many mainstream American settlers, they have also learned the value of speaking fluent liberalese on the international stage. By translating Scripture into sound bites, Jewish-American settlers have played a pivotal role in the public relations rebranding of the Israeli settler movement — and these professed liberals are now helping to deflect attention from crimes committed by Jews.
When Mordechai Meyer’s parents held a news conference denouncing their son’s detention, they declared that “we are United States citizens and our children grew up there, in a democracy. And we made aliyah from the United States to a democratic state.” Now, they complained, we “find ourselves with our son in jail and do not know anything.” The Meyers are right that indefinite administrative detention is antidemocratic, but it’s highly ironic that they would focus on the illiberal tendencies of Israel’s criminal justice system to distract attention from their son’s alleged crimes. (After all, we don’t hear settlers complaining when hundreds of Palestinians are indefinitely detained under the same law.)
The Meyers — and many more like them — see no contradiction in using liberal language to support the deeply illiberal settlement project.
For all their protestations that they are good liberals, many American settler leaders have been deafeningly silent on recent acts of Jewish terrorism. If these American immigrants believe that violence is a betrayal of cherished values, then why have their rabbis not held news conferences loudly denouncing the terrorists in their own communities and families? Where are their op-eds in American and Israeli newspapers condemning violent Jewish extremism?
For four decades, their condemnation has often been either muted or tempered by attempts to play down Jewish terrorism by framing it as an issue of “understanding the context” — a euphemism for reacting to Palestinian violence. And while there is absolutely no justification for Palestinian terrorism, it is not enough for Jews to preach to Palestinians that moderates must speak out, murderers must be cast out, and incitement must be stopped without taking the same aggressive steps within their own communities.
American Jews at home and abroad can no longer condone these blind spots and damning silences when it comes to Jewish extremism in Israel. It is the obligation of all who seek peace and justice to take up Mr. Rabin’s clarion call to spit out the terrorists and their sympathizers in our midst.
Taliban without Mullah Omar
It was around 1994 when Islamic fundamentalist Taliban appeared in Afghanistan under Mullah Mohammad Omar. Omar was Taliban's spiritual leader, known as its Ameer ul Mumeneen (leader of the faithful). He held the movement under extremely firm control and enforced strict interpretation of the Sharia law. He commanded unquestioned loyalty from his followers. During its time in power (1996-2001), Taliban had committed unprecedented atrocities, forcing people to flee to neighbouring countries.
The Pakistan Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is said to be the mastermind of Taliban. Pakistan probably has the deepest strategic interest in Afghanistan. The country's policy apparently was to drive out the increasingly independent Mujahideens and install a friendly Taliban government in Kabul.
Taliban's downfall came in the wake of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Tower in New York in 2001. The US launched Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001 and by December, Taliban was driven out of Kabul and a new government was formed under Hamid Karzai.
Taliban members fled to the mountains and turned into an insurgent force. Over the past 15 years, the Taliban insurgency has killed hundreds of civilians and Nato soldiers.
As violence continued unabated, attempts were made to negotiate with the Taliban. In June 2010, President Karzai organised a “Peace Jirga” with a view of building a national consensus on peace talks with the Taliban. Taliban dismissed the Jirga, terming it a trick to secure the interest of foreign powers. They reiterated that there will be no talks until all foreign troops left Afghanistan. Besides, Taliban did not recognise the Karzai government and only wanted to hold discussions with the US, which they termed as “the main party in the conflict”.
With Ashraf Ghani becoming president of Afghanistan in September 2014, Pakistan felt that it was time to push Taliban for a peace deal. Ghani is considered to be friendlier towards Pakistan than his predecessor, Hamid Karzai.
The other more compelling reason is the Chinese pressure on Pakistan and Afghanistan to resolve the 15-year old insurgency. China wants peace, as it has high stakes in the region. It is investing billions of dollars in Pakistan to develop rail and road links from Southern China to a new sea port in Pakistan. China has also invested heavily in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Besides, China is keen to see that Islamic fundamentalism does not spread to the Xinjiang province, where it is trying to contain Uighur militants.
At Pakistan's initiative, the first round of talks between the Afghan government and Taliban took place on July 7, 2015 at Murree, in the presence of US and Chinese government representatives. The second round was scheduled to take place on July 31, 2015.
Interestingly, just two days before the second round, the office of the Afghan president announced on July 29 that Mullah Omar was dead. Actually it was Pakistan that informed Kabul about the Taliban chief's death in Karachi in April 2013. Earlier speculation that Mullah Omar had died, since he was not seen in public for several years, was never confirmed.
What is incredible is the way Taliban conducted themselves even after Omar's demise in 2013. A well-trained clique of mullahs orchestrated the myth of Omar for two years and kept the movement unified. Every decision was issued in the name of Mullah Omar. Taliban fighters never knew or realised that Omar was dead. Taliban is in an awkward situation now that the myth has been broken.
Pakistan seems to have two objectives for breaking the news - to weaken the Taliban leadership and to keep the new leaders under its influence. Omar's deputy Mullah Muhammad Akhtar Mansoor was immediately announced as the Emir of the fundamentalist group.
Pakistan now has a difficult job at hand. First, it has to keep Taliban united by containing the power struggle and stopping it from splintering into rival factions. There are serious personal, tribal and strategic rivalries among the field commanders. Several leaders have already staked their claim as the head of Taliban.
Second, Pakistan has to make Taliban understand that it is no longer a'religious war' and fighting the Afghan military will not bring them to power.
Third, Pakistan has to make sure that the leadership issue is quickly resolved. And a leader, who commands loyalty of major factions, is ushered to the negotiating table to conclude a workable deal with Ashraf Ghani. So far, Taliban leaders were not sure whether to join the peace talks or keep fighting.
Finally, Pakistan has to undertake some serious confidence building measures with Kabul. President Ashraf Ghani, who is keen to stop the bloodletting, is still not sure whether Pakistan really wants the insurgency to cease or if it has other motives.
Taliban's proclaimed aim was to rid Afghanistan of all foreign forces. Taliban, however, never declared any intention to spread its movement beyond Afghanistan.
The fear is that Islamic State (ISIS) has already made its presence in Afghanistan. The worry is that without the firm control of Mullah Omar, disgruntled Taliban fighters may join the ISIS. That could lead to a new kind of war that no one has yet witnessed in South Asia.
Afghanistan's history is a narrative of wars. The news of Mullah Omar's death has already put the peace process on hold. All stakeholders need to work for durable peace in this devastated land.
The writer is former Ambassador and Secretary.
A side agreement could void the Iran deal
By Mike Pompeo and David B. Rivkin Jr.
Mike Pompeo, a Republican, represents Kansas in the House and is a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. David B. Rivkin Jr., a constitutional litigator and a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, served in the Justice Department and the White House Counsel’s Office during the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.
The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which requires the president to submit to Congress the nuclear agreement reached with Iran, represents an exceptional bipartisan congressional accommodation. Instead of submitting an agreement through the constitutionally proper mechanism — as a treaty requiring approval by a two-thirds majority in the Senate — the act enables President Obama to go forward with the deal unless Congress disapproves it by a veto-proof margin. Unfortunately, the president has not complied with the act, jeopardizing his ability to implement the agreement.
The act defines “agreement,” with exceptional precision, to include not only the agreement between Iran and six Western powers but also “any additional materials related thereto, including .?.?. side agreements, implementing materials, documents, and guidance, technical or other understandings, and any related agreements, whether entered into or implemented prior to the agreement or to be entered into or implemented in the future.” But the president has not given Congress a key side agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This document describes how key questions about the past military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program will be resolved, as well as the precise operational parameters of the verification regime to which Tehran will be subject.
This omission has important legal consequences. At the heart of the act is a provision, negotiated between Congress and the White House, freezing the president’s ability to “waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of statutory sanctions with respect to Iran” while Congress is reviewing the agreement.
That review period was supposed to take 60 days and is triggered the day the president submits the agreement to Congress. However, because the president failed to submit the agreement in full, as the law requires, the 60-day clock has not started, and the president remains unable lawfully to waive or lift statutory Iran-related sanctions. Indeed, since the act also provides for the transmittal of the agreement to Congress between July 10 and Sept. 7, the president’s ability to waive statutory sanctions will remain frozen in perpetuity if Congress does not receive the full agreement Monday .
Congress must now confront the grave issues of constitutional law prompted by the president’s failure to comply with his obligations under the act. This is not the first time this administration has disregarded clear statutory requirements, encroaching in the process upon Congress’s legislative and budgetary prerogatives. The fact that this has happened again in the context of a national security agreement vital to the United States and its allies makes the situation all the more serious.
For Congress to vote on the merits of the agreement without the opportunity to review all of its aspects would both effectively sanction the president’s unconstitutional conduct and be a major policy mistake. Instead, both houses should vote to register their view that the president has not complied with his obligations under the act by not providing Congress with a copy of an agreement between the IAEA and Iran, and that, as a result, the president remains unable to lift statutory sanctions against Iran. Then, if the president ignores this legal limit on his authority, Congress can and should take its case to court.
Will the U.S. be forced to face Russia in… Syria?
By Brooklyn Middleton
Sunday, 6 September 2015
The White House has confirmed it is assessing recent reports indicating Russia is gearing up to significantly increase its military support for Bashar al-Assad’s disgraced regime in violence-wracked Syria. Russian military involvement in Syria could force DC and Moscow into a direct confrontation and would likely secure Assad’s future in power.
The New York Times reported that Moscow has recently facilitated the transfer of both “prefabricated housing units for hundreds of people to a Syrian airfield and the delivery of a portable air traffic control station.” Should Moscow began an aerial campaign - which, Russia is likely to argue will aid in the fight against ISIS - it would be difficult to assess whether their operations will extend to fighting against all factions battling Assad.
As the U.S. mulls how to respond to mounting evidence of Russia’s deeper involvement, the Assad regime continues with its operations that consistently prove far deadlier than ISIS attacks
Meanwhile, as the U.S. mulls how to respond to mounting evidence of Russia’s deeper involvement, the Assad regime continues with its operations that consistently prove far deadlier than ISIS attacks; the newest reports indicates that in the six-month period between January and July, regime and allied fighters were responsible for the deaths of at least 7,894 while ISIS was responsible for 1,131. Further Russian military support of the Syrian government will promote more of the former.
At the same time, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, chair of a U.N. Human Rights Council investigative panel on Syria, noted that ISIS is increasingly “desperate.” This assessment is unlikely to be corroborated by intelligence officials. One month prior to the U.N. remarks, U.S. officials confirmed to AP that the number of ISIS fighters - despite continued aerial operations targeting their positions – now total at least 20,000 and may be as high as 30,000. the estimates remain unchanged from when the anti-ISIS coalition launched its offensive. The limited progress the U.S.-led coalition’s aerial operations has made are likely contributing to Russia assessing they have a window of opportunity to intervene.
Propping up Assad
According to press reports, Secretary of State John Kerry voiced his concerns regarding these developments, noting that he spoke with Russia’s Foreign Minister and told him, “that if such reports were accurate, these actions could further escalate the conflict, lead to greater loss of innocent life, increase refugee flows and risk confrontation with the anti-ISIS Coalition operating in Syria.”
Kerry’s brief list of the potential consequences of direct Russian involvement in Syria is spot-on. Russia’s propping up of Bashar al-Assad’s regime since the beginning of the conflict - with consistent arms transfers and U.N. vetoes - is well documented. That said, the implications of Russian boots on the ground and aircraft in the air – battling alongside Syrian regime forces – would represent a serious shift in the conflict and prove disastrous for what remains of DC’s objectives in Syria.
From a security standpoint, Moscow’s intervention would further diminish any likelihood of coalition partners implementing a No Fly Zone (NFZ), which translates on the ground to continued Assad regime aerial bombardments. At the same time, Turkey’s recent join in the fight against ISIS – delayed, in part, due to the lack of any serious plans to oust Assad – could be jeopardized by Russian involvement that seeks to further sustain Assad’s rule. Meanwhile, the final blow to DC’s Syrian rebel training program could very well be Russia’s targeting of armed factions – other than ISIS – that are opposed to the regime.
Russian officials have since downplayed the reports, with Vladmir Putin stating that discussions regarding direct intervention would be “premature.”
It is worth noting that Russia did not always seek direct intervention in Syria. In fact, there was a period where Russia explicitly indicated it would not directly intervene in the conflict even if Syria was attacked by the U.S.. Immediately following the Assad regime’s devastating Sarin attack in Eastern Ghouta in 2013, as the U.S. seriously considered carrying out a series of cruise-missile strikes targeting regime positions, a Russian official publicly stated, “Russia will not intervene if Syria is attacked.” Amid what likely would have been a mission supported by a sizeable majority of the international community, it is highly likely Moscow would indeed not have. Two years later, both Putin and Assad are emboldened and Syria’s future, led by a war criminal and home to the de-facto capital of the Islamic State, remains as uncertain as ever.
Brooklyn Middleton is an American Political and Security Risk Analyst reporting from Israel. Her work has appeared in Turkish and Israeli publications including The Times of Israel and Hürriyet Daily News. She has previously written about U.S. President Obama's policy in Syria as well as the emerging geopolitical threats Israel faces as it pursues its energy interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. She is currently researching Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence on Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant groups to complete her MA in Middle Eastern Studies. You can follow her on Twitter here: @BklynMiddleton.
Unbearable burden on human conscience
It has been four years since the struggle against Syrian dictator began. Thousands of people have lost their lives, entire cities have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people had to flee their homes chasing a desperate hope of a better tomorrow — a tomorrow when they can go to sleep at night not fearing the collapse of the whole building on their heads. The humanitarian crisis in Syria is deepening.
Overnight, it felt like the world has woken up surprised by how devastating the situation on the ground is, all because of the haunting photo of a lifeless body of a toddler found on a beach in Turkey. It was the body of Aylan Kurdi, 3, who died along with his brother and mother in an attempt to reach Greece.
There are more than four million people who have fled Syria since the beginning of the conflict. Some of those refugees live in poorly-funded camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. A great number of those distressed people have lost their lives trying to cross borders on rickety boats or boxed in outdated trucks.
Different UN bodies have been complaining that they are in desperate need for funding. The UNHCR is reporting more than 40 percent gap between what it actually needs and the funds it receives from rich countries. The problem goes even deeper when we go out of this refugee area; take the camps needed to host those trying cross to Europe through Hungary, Italy, and Bosnia and you would find that UNHCR has only reached nine percent of its targeted funds to support refugees in this area as reported by the Guardian.
Now, beyond the romanticized views of moral obligations and humanitarian responsibilities toward those in need, with the appealing photos of German fans carrying signs welcoming refugees in a football match and young people receiving refugees with roses and blankets at Austrian bus stations, the issue of refugees goes deeper than that. It is a mix of economical, social, demographical and security reasons that complicate any decision to host refugees within any country’s borders.
In Europe, where the crisis is intensifying these days, countries under the European flag are finding themselves divided on how to react and what to do. They suddenly feel that they are not that far away from the conflict zone as refugees are pouring through their beaches and train stations. “The resulting crisis may prove too big for Europe to handle,” wrote Paul Mason to the Guardian. “As it unfolds, this crisis will place a severe strain on the EU’s institutions, and even concepts, for handling migration.”
While writing this piece, there are thousands of refugees now trapped in Budapest stations trying to cross into Germany where Angela Merkel has decided to open Germany’s borders to receive more asylum seekers, leaving the UK and other countries under the Schengen agreement bewildered on what to do and how to react. Hinting yet again that the European giant is not as big and harmonized as we may think. “There is no coherence, no predictability and no urgency. As with Greece, and with the prolonged debt crisis of southern Europe, the institutions move sluggishly until leaders are forced into making flamboyant gestures, and no solution is ever reached,” wrote Paul Mason.
The US is also feeling the pinch; as until now it has received around 1,500 refugees from Syria. “The process is complicated by a long security vetting procedure meant to ensure that only desperate refugees, and not extremists from groups like Daesh, reach American soil,” reported the CNN. Following the crisis in Europe, the State Department spokesman John Kirby commented that the US was expected to double the figure of accepted refugees before the end of the year.
The Arab countries are at the heart of the problem as well; either hosting refugees or funding humanitarian agencies, there is a lot more that they can do.
No matter how many solutions the world could come up with to improve the situation, it will never cease unless the root of the problem itself is resolved that is the war in Syria.
When children kill children: continuous exposure to violence results in the idea that violence is acceptable
Aasha Mehreen Amin
Three teenage students of a madrasa who had kidnapped and murdered their classmate to get ransom from his family, stated to the police that they had been 'inspired' by a TV serial. The report that carried this grisly story did not give details on what exactly the TV serial had shown to influence these teenagers to become cold-blooded murderers but it does give an idea of how violent content on screen can have a deep impact on young minds. Aged between 14 and 15, the three abducted the victim, slit his throat and dumped him in a septic tank. Sounds eerily like a scene in a murder mystery series, doesn't it? The kind many children and adolescents have easy access to through television or the internet.
There may be of course other factors contributing to teen violence and crime, especially in a society where brutality is rife in real life and where criminals often dodge the legal system with influence and money. The teenagers, who felt no guilt as they slit their classmate's throat and asked his family for ransom after killing him while hiding him in a water tank, may well have been influenced by things other than a TV series. But if what they claim is true – that they were inspired by a TV series to commit this heinous act - it shows the impact media has on young minds. There have been other cases of teenaged victims being killed by classmates for money. Were they too encouraged by films that depicted cruelty and ruthlessness?
Abuse, violent environments, isolation and poverty are also attributed to criminal behaviour. But we cannot ignore the fact that children have become more and more exposed to violence on screen. Whether it is a TV serial, movie, cartoon or the video games they play, there is always a certain amount of violent content. What is worse is that parents and guardians seem to be oblivious of the effects this exposure may have on their children.
Scientific studies have shown that continuously watching violent films have adverse effects on young minds. They tended to become more hostile, aggressive and insensitive towards violence or helping someone in pain. This is hardly surprising considering the fact that movies/television influence us in a way no other media can. They tell us what we should be wearing, what we should be eating and even how we should be behaving. And the younger we are, the more power such media wields in shaping how we think.
A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that continuous exposure to violence results in the idea that violence is acceptable, that it can help solve problems. It also makes children believe and be resigned to the idea that the world is a harsh, sinister place. Watching violent scenes continuously reduces the shock value and hence, cruel acts do not seem all that cruel anymore and things like torture, brutal killings are no longer as condemnable. Empathy is therefore reduced.
In many films, aggressive behaviour, even criminality, is glamourised. Dexter, an American TV series that became quite popular even in Bangladesh, thanks to cable TV, portrays an attractive serial killer who goes around killing and then cutting up individuals he thinks are the 'bad guys'. Bank robbers, assassins and mobsters are often shown as good looking, swanky men who seem to have it all and manage to get away with murder, literally. The protagonist in the TV series, Breaking Bad, is a fairly simple chemistry teacher who finds out he has cancer and decides to start making crystal meth to pay his hospital bills and make ends meet. Along the way, he turns into a ruthless drug peddler with no qualms about killing or letting people die. All these images can have a profound effect on children, creating a distorted notion of life and making the line between good and evil thinner than ever.
Even regular heroes in films are increasingly violent nowadays and they give the idea that violence is the only way to fight evil.
The key lies in what a child is exposed to and for how long. It is important for grown-ups to acknowledge that they are responsible for what their children watch or see. Parents often substitute the TV for a babysitter and are not concerned about what their kids are watching on TV or through the internet or when they play video games (often full of violent content) as long as they are occupied and in a safe environment.
It is therefore crucial for parents and guardians to limit the time children spend watching TV or movies on the internet or playing video games. Child psychologists recommend limiting TV watching to one or two hours. Parents must make an effort to spend time with their children and participate in their activities. Watching the films/programmes they watch or the video games they play will allow parents and guardians to know what their wards are exposed to and give them the opportunity to discuss the content with their children. There must be other outlets for children such as playing a sport, learning to play a musical instrument or going to music school, being part of clubs at school and hanging out with other children their own age.
Schools and madrasas where children spend a large or all their time have a special responsibility to make sure that they impart good values to their students outside the textbooks and scriptures. Teaching or preaching tolerance, kindness, honesty and compassion should be part of the curriculum. Teachers must be role models and mentors, not sadistic disciplinarians.
Children must be taught that violence is not the solution to conflict resolution – there are other, better, peaceful ways to resolve a problem. As parents and guardians, we must make concerted efforts to reduce children's exposure to violence on TV, internet and in video games. This includes monitoring and screening what they watch on screen for fun.