Saturday, 21 March 2009

T-Shirt shows growing Israeli racism

'The funniest part was that when our soldier came to get the shirts, the man who printed them was an Arab' is the comment of an IDF soldier talking about the newest fashion craze to hit Israel; T-shirts bearing sick slogans that Hitler would have been proud of. Full story at

When Obama 'L'Overture' talks to Iran think Afghanistan and Pakistan

Well a NuRoz greeting from the US president is certainly a change to the usual mood music of bellicosity and war has come from US presidents recently. But what does it mean by way of real change in US foreign policy?

Many are tempted by the warming after-glow from this year's US presidential election; making history as it did by seeing the first African-American person to be elected to that office. Tempted to believe that this was change we could really believe in - although to be honest Obama's silence on Gaza before, and also in the days after, his inauguration, will naturally have soured things for some among his international admirers.

There has been a change but it is probably not the one most readily imagined by liberal commentators, or arch right, pro-Israel neo-cons for that matter - although for diametrically opposed reasons in the case of the latter.

Has Obama signalled to Tehran's mullahs that he means them no harm if only they would give up the nuke programme.

However, if you do a bit of semiotics on those signals you find that the nuances reveal all. So Obama's language meant: 'you are a great people' but can only remain as such if you stop 'destroying' and stop playing with big boys' toys and instead be 'responsible'.

Hang on a minute, couldn't we imagaine the US as such a country: destruction all over Iraq, Afghanistan and western Pakistan and responsible to no one but itself.

Not surprisingly the Iranian theocracy has been careful to understand the meaning of Clauswitz in reverse: 'politics is the continuation of war by other means'. Obama speaks to the Iranian people in order to undermine the official anti-Americanism of the regime and appeal to most right-thinking people's preference for peace over death and destruction. So they have welcomed his opening but want to see actions rather than words to demonstrate anything new about Obama over Bush.

And the US still has not repudiated the 'all options on the table' doctrine even as it offers its conditional olive branch. Obama is focused on rebuilding America's image in the world in order to make it easier to intervene militarily anywhere in the world, not less, to defend 'US interests'.

A recent assessment of US forces has gone back to the drawing board, ripping up old books on fighting two years simultaneously. Sure, the asymmetric 'war on terror' continues but the possibility of fighting more than two wars with states at any one time is looming. Troops will stay in Iraq, not as many, but they will hold their bases. In Afghanistan - and this is the key to understanding what the US is up to - they are increasing troop levels sharply and widening the bombing campaign in Pakistan.

All their reports will have told them they are radicalising Pakistanis against the US presence in their region, but from where Obama stands Afghanistan is at the centre of the Democratic party's narrative post 9/11, as well as the Republican's. It was from there that they claim 9/11 was planned and implemented, and this is where the evil still lurks and festers as they see it, and if anything threatens to regenerate itself at a higher level.

'Al-Qaeda' is still in business, what ever they mean by that, but certainly a movement of radicalised resistance movements that are more and more open to the extreme interpretation of the world on offer from people like Osama Bin Laden, who popped up again this week, is rising in Nuclear-armed Pakistan. Bin Laden sees an opening also.

Obama is softening his tone with Iran but still has all options on the table as Iran adds to its thousands of centrifuges needed for processing uranium. The Israeli chief of staff was in Washington this week 'briefing' his opposite on what their intelligence has supposedly learned about how close Iran is to amassing the fissile material it needs. By all accounts no weapons-grade uranium has been made.

The US has an imperial overstretch problem and there is a country that already has nuclear weapons and is meant to be an ally of the US. Pakistan is what US foreign policy is transfixed by, and by there own recent admission are loosing in Afghanistan.

They want to sort out Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan that means a futile attempt to defeat the Taliban by raising force levels but still to only a fraction of the number the defeated Soviets.

Pakistan, they hope, will be rescued from the Islamists by the army and dictatorship, despite the fact that this same Pakistanis army has been defeated by, or come to an accomodation with, the popular military resistance to the US-inspired war to root out the 'Taliban and Al-Qeada'. The fact is the influence of political Islam is spreading in direct correlation to the duration and endurance of the war on terror.

Obama L'Overture - apologies to Touissant - is winding down one war and widening, another bigger one in terms of what's a stake in Afghanistan for the US domestically in terms of what the've told there own people about the necessity of the war there, and in Pakistan geopolitically. And of course to add to the urgency of matters Israel sees any Iranian civilian nuclear programme as an existential threat.

We could be about to see the change we never wanted to believe in.

Two US citizens wounded and one Palestinian in anti-wall protest

Three protesters including two US activists were wounded when IOF troops shot rubber-coated bullets at them and many others suffered suffocation as a result of inhaling tear gas during the weekly anti-wall Bil'in demonstration.

The peaceful protest, which is organized by Palestinian citizens from Bil'in village and foreign activists, started as usual after the Friday prayer, where the protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners calling for resisting the occupation, the apartheid wall and settlement expansion.

In Al-Masara village, close to Bethlehem in the West Bank, two Palestinian women and a nine-year-old child were wounded when IOF troops attacked and battered them with rifle butts and batons during a non-violent anti-wall protest organized at noon Friday. The demonstration was dedicated to Palestinian mothers on the international mothers' day.

West of Salfit city in the West Bank, a bunch of Israeli settlers escorted by IOF troops assaulted Palestinian farmers from the village of Deir Istiya, blocked them from reaching their agricultural lands and confiscated their ID cards.

Thanks to the Palestine Information Center

Sheffield University occupation lockdown

The students ocuppying for Gaza at Sheffield University have been locked down by the weekend. It is thought this act by management may just be for the weekend, but access to the occupation has been blocked. Food parcels are being allowed at the door.

Earlier in the week management agreed to open negotiations but a date for a meeting has still not been set. The occupiers have elected a delegation to meet the University management.