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Let Them Starve on the Streets – Rightwing Collective Punishment and Racism in the UK

Islamophobe racist Theodore Dalrymple aired his noxious opinions on the UK riots on Radio National’s PM yesterday afternoon in clipped icy tones – he thinks that the great unwashed unemployed of Britain should starve. Dalrymple’s doctrine could be straight out of Breivik’s manifesto, and indeed, Breivik mentions him therein. He is also feted in the far rightwing Brussels Journal where he claims that ‘the main interest for Islam for these young [black] men is the control over women’. Dalrymple has supernatural powers – he can manufacture intent at a glance on the streets of Britain where stride ‘rather vicious looking people who obviously are angry about something, their anger is misplaced, but nevertheless they’re angry. They look vicious, they look as if they would be ready to stick a knife in you if you crossed them in any way or displeased them in anyway.’

Dalrymple aka Anthony Daniels is a multi-nymed character who worked for years as a prison doctor/psychiatrist. Did the prison system brutalise him into misanthropy as it can prison inmates?

The brutal conditions of incarceration offer up one reason why recidivism is so high in Britain, which serves as a typical example of Western justice systems (with the United States as an extreme which magnifies the problems a thousand-fold). The treatment of children is a particularly poignant example of this. Reporting to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Children’s Commissioner for England found that “the protection of children in custody remains a fundamental concern. There are high incidences of mental health problems, self-harm and bullying with a significant proportion of children feeling unsafe. There are high levels of intimidation, violence and abuse, not only from other prisoners but also from staff.”

Manchester lawyer, Joseph Kotrie-Monson, draws attention to the dangers of further criminalisation consequent on the harsh prison sentences which are being applied to rioters in response to heavy-handed government and public reaction.

“Of course we all want people to be punished for offending. What we don’t want is children to be criminalised and children to end up in situation where they’re in custody with real criminals, learning how to be a proper criminal.

“When an appropriate dealing with a youth offending team worker, effective dealing with them at the sentencing stage, rather than giving them big long sentences or whatever, effective dealing in that way is much more likely to prevent further offending.”

“As any lawyer will tell you with practical experience swift justice is nearly always rushed justice, equals bad justice,” he said.

“As far as dealing with people in rapid fire courts, sometimes without them even visiting the magistrates court, as is happening increasingly in the UK, where people appear for their first appearance by video link from the police station, these types of things don’t result in people getting treated appropriately.

“You’ve got to ask yourself: do I want punishment to be dealt out or … do I want this type of thing not to happen again?

“Well if you identify children and you identify young people who are likely to commit further offences, you can either demonise them and make the problem worse, or you can deal with them.”

Clasford Stirling does not reside in Dalrymple’s rarified climes, but in the Tottenham community, with a grounded view on the impact of Cameron’s proposed 16,000 man cuts to the police force:

CLASFORD STIRLING: He’s not going to do that by making these cuts, which are affecting everybody so bad that we haven’t even got anybody to talk to the young people anymore, because he certainly can’t, you know what I mean? I maybe one of the only ones left in my community that’s maybe still employed. A lot of the people that young people know has either been made redundant or have just lost their jobs. And it’s very difficult, people are looking at well how do we do this and how do we do that; well we’re not going to be able to do it if the people ain’t there to bridge the gap between the young people and the police and the young people and the system.

One of Cameron’s and his fascist troupe’s ruthless, ineffectual solutions is to introduce obscene collective punishment for the families of rioters, and appallingly, evictions have already commenced. What next? a reintroduction of transportation to the colonies?

But several Conservative-led local councils, in London, Nottingham and Salford, an outlying district of Manchester, have already said that they would start eviction proceedings against tenants convicted of rioting. And one, in Wandsworth, said it had started the process of evicting a woman whose teenage son was convicted in the rioting. A petition on a government Web site for a proposal to authorize public housing evictions drew more than 100,000 signatures within 48 hours. That number guaranteed that Parliament would have to debate the proposal.

The other scapegoat the British rightwing upper class is attempting to maul is the internet. While Cameron is keen to get his grubby hands on the internet, all in the name of security (aka protecting the ruling elite), Evgeny Morosov sounds a vital warning:

‘After violent riots in 2009, Chinese officials had no qualms about cutting off the Xinjiang region’s Internet access for 10 months. Still, they would surely welcome a formal excuse for such drastic measures if the West should decide to take similar measures in dealing with disorder.’

And below, a representative of the Turkish Kurdish community in London identifies one of the prime culprits for the riots. ‘The biggest gang roaming on the streets of London are the Metropolitan police.’ The activist ‘condemns British police and media for trying to clash Turkish and Kurdish community with black and other ethnic minorities’, further stating that ‘shop owners only defended their own shops against looters; however the media and police tried to publicise this in a manner that can clash ethnic minorities with each other’.

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British rioters face court

ANNE BARKER: You know the youngest person I’ve heard of is an 11-year-old girl who admitted to throwing stones and smashing windows and joining a large riot of 30 men and three girls. She’s been given, for example, a nine-month referral order – she lives in a foster home already.

MARK COLVIN: I think the magistrate there said he wasn’t even quite sure what to do with her, 11 is very young?

ANNE BARKER: Very young. I mean a lot of these people are getting, you know, as much as nine months in jail, six months in jail for simple burglary. One man, I think, got several months for stealing several bottles of water. This is an electrical engineering student who faced obviously a good career. A dental nurse with a baby son…

MARK COLVIN: Six months?

ANNE BARKER: He got six months…

UK riots: Paul Lewis’s five-day journey
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‘I’d drunk too much, I was irresponsible, criminal’: Nick Clegg on his regrets
Another appalling upper class racist : David Starkey claims ‘the whites have become black’
UK riots: ‘We don’t want no trouble. We just want a job’
Them and us: the young Londoners who we can’t afford to alienate
David Cameron and co have picked the wrong fight
UK riots: Death on the Dudley Road

Zulkfar said he had run community projects for 25 years but gave up in 2009, dismayed by the lack of resources. A well-regarded support and advice centre closed in 2004 and now there are few places for people to come together. Others talked enviously of a multimillion-pound community and sports centre in Handsworth, less than two miles away and the scene of riots in the early 80s. “We should have learned from what happened in Handsworth, but we don’t even have a job centre here,” one man said.

UK riots: To understand is not to condone
The UK riots and the criminality of Jack Straw
How youth-led revolts shook elites around the world
Govt research: cutting benefits of “problem families” won’t work

Rioting Against the Rich

Consumerism says “Buy”, crisis capitalism says “Only if you are rich.” UK debtor’s prisons don’t have walls these days, they are council estates with invisible class walls. Since David Cameron can’t see any relationship between poverty, cuts in youth service funding and social services, and an increase in youth crime, he needs to get out of the Circumlocution Office more often.

As he introduces further austerity measures which will impact most upon already disadvantaged people, Cameron forgets that prevention is better than cure, ignoring the existing vast wealth and privilege inequities, the alienation of youth who feel and are made to feel unwanted. Ostracism is society’s most powerful tool against vulnerable people and the UK government is leading the charge.

Three years after Wall Street precipitated a global crisis, British youth unemployment reached record levels earlier this year, An analyst noted that “”Being out of work for more than a year can have a scarring effect, making it harder to get a job as well as having a negative impact on one’s health and wellbeing,” adding: “The Government’s decision to abolish job guarantees for young people may leave a generation of young people scarred for many years to come.”

By 2008, Great Britain had reached the highest level of income inequality in more than half a century, and the austerity measures imposed by the new government targeted the victims of that inequality. As a recent report showed, the poorest 10% of the population saw their real income fall over the last decade, while “richest tenth of the population have seen much bigger proportional rises in their incomes than any other group.”

The riots began in Tottenham, which has the highest unemployment rate in London. Youth clubs have been closed, because the austerity economics regime slashed 75% of the youth services budget. And, as Seumas Milne points out, young people in the neighborhood said the club closings could lead to rioting, as bored and anxious young people take to the streets.

And the austerity crowd has slashed police budgets, too, just as the House Republican budget did here in the United States. Even law and order, that shibboleth of conservatism, takes a back seat to the radical austerity ideology. That makes it harder for the right and the pseudo-center to justify their discredited policies, leaving them to come up with increasingly shrill and implausible explanations for the violence.

Where are the tallest pillars of this society to provide ethical models and strategies to lead youth toward hope and a future of their choice? As David Harvey highlights:

But the problem is that we live in a society where capitalism itself has become rampantly feral. Feral politicians cheat on their expenses, feral bankers plunder the public purse for all its worth, CEOs, hedge fund operators and private equity geniuses loot the world of wealth, telephone and credit card companies load mysterious charges on everyone’s bills, shopkeepers price gouge, and, at the drop of a hat swindlers and scam artists get to practice three-card monte right up into the highest echelons of the corporate and political world.

A political economy of mass dispossession, of predatory practices to the point of daylight robbery, particularly of the poor and the vulnerable, the unsophisticated and the legally unprotected, has become the order of the day.

Thatcherism unchained the feral instincts of capitalism (the “animal spirits” of the entreprenuer they coyly named it) and nothing has transpired to curb them since. Slash and burn is now openly the motto of the ruling classes pretty much everywhere.

This is the new normal in which we live. This is what the next grand commission of enquiry should address. Everyone, not just the rioters, should be held to account. Feral capitalism should be put on trial for crimes against humanity as well as for crimes against nature.

Stockmarket Crash Cleanup
Cameron’s reaction is to glower about the social media, like a petty dictator in the Middle East which imperials implanted and cossetted then looked down upon and chastised for draconian measures against insurrection, foolishly imagining he can commit a human rights violation by preventing internet access and escape public opprobrium. When other countries use social media to struggle for democracy, it is acclaimed, yet now Cameron wants to control it and demonises it. For easy approval in uncertain times, Cameron fervently supports Laura Norder – Tory opportunism and personal conviction coincide. If looters’ parents are to be held responsible for their childrens’ crimes and evicted from their homes, why is Murdoch able to evade his corporation’s crimes? Is it a surprise that youth without hope and nothing to lose have followed the UK elite’s no-blame no-criminality culture? Prepare for the fight against increased withdrawal of civil liberties, as the ruling elite defend their piles of loot by any means they can muster. The local small businesses targeted by youthful insurrectionists on their rampage are the meat in the sandwich and offer Cameron a wedge – he can protect them from and coopt them againt the loathsome youth menace without reference to the underlying malaise which has festered during years of neglect.

Cameron could ensure affordable education, health, social services and housing, but prefers to raid taxpayer funds to employ more cops with increased leeway for brutality to protect property, which for Tories, comes before people, particularly hated youth. Businesses damaged by looting will be recompensed from the public purse, yet where’s Cameron’s compensation to the public for decades of economic irrationalism and elite looting? When will shorters of banking stocks get their comeuppances? Cameron’s response to unrest caused by vast inequities of wealth and privilege is to add fuel to the fire with mass arrests and incarceration – sure to enrage youth further and solidify their untouchability. With thousands of arrests promised, the 3 private corporations – G4S, Kalyx and Serco – who run 11 of Britain’s prisons will be dining well this week. Perhaps Australia will be seeing more British ships loaded with the raddled empire’s unwanted felons arriving on its shores.

Dr. Clifford Stott, who specialises in crowd psychology at the University of Liverpool, sounds a prescient note:

While there is no real causal relationship, however, he [Dr. Clifford Stott] noted that in societies that see outbreaks of riotous behaviour, the existence of large disenfranchised population is a common factor.

“One of the things that we know about riots is that they are underpinned by perceptions of illegitimacy of authority,” he said.

The tendency to cast crowd action as either explosions of mob irrationality or criminality – something common to both authoritarian and democratic governments, Stott said – undermines attempts to understand the root causes behind the violence.

“It is the dominant discourse around riots, it always has been,” he said. “Society tends to pathologise collective action.”

Fascists love scapegoats, and conveniently, youth don’t vote. But their mums and dads do – Cameron and his foppish old school tie set’s days in power are numbered. But will there be sufficient mobilisation amongst the UK people to support an end to an obscenity which sacrifices the futures of UK children and livelihoods of small business people in their community to obscure malevolent ruling class pillage? A vicious, classist society which doesn’t care about all of its youth sabotages its own future.

“Things got out of hand & we’d had a few drinks. We smashed the place up & Boris set fire to the toilets.” David Cameron, 1986

RT @ciderpunx: #londonriot hotspots are /all/ in areas w high child poverty. See @newint #map http://is.gd/6kLjp4 #inequality #poverty #

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Big Brother isn’t watching you

If we want to live in a society where people feel included, we must include them, where they feel represented, we must represent them and where they feel love and compassion for their communities then we, the members of that community, must find love and compassion for them.

At Camberwell Green magistrates, Nicholas Robinson, 23, an electrical engineering student with no previous convictions, was jailed for the maximum permitted six months after pleading guilty to stealing bottles of water worth £3.50 from Lidl in Brixton.
UK Riots Live Blog
London Rioters Vs. Stock Market Traders: Who’s More Destructive?
Is Rioting Revolutionary?
The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom
Generation F*cked : How Britain is Eating Its Young
And, o! exquisite refinement in the ancient art of double standard: the same conservative press that indignantly deplored dictators’ censorship of online communication, now call for plain suppression of entire telecommunication networks
An Open Letter to David Cameron’s Parents
England’s Ashes – America’s Future?
Unequal justice for property crime: Out of the 1.7m cases heard in magistrates courts last year, only 3.5% were remanded to jail. These figures from this week show a rate of nearly 60% remanded to jail, where their criminality may be ensured, not cured.
The Government consultation proposes removing the courts’ power so that it is mandatory for the courts to approve evictions, which will speed up the process. It takes an average of seven months just to get a court decision at the moment.
The UK riots have unique roots, but British youth’s alienation is similar to the disenfranchisement behind Arab revolts.
UK riots: how do Boris Johnson’s Bullingdon antics compare?
London Is the Surveillance Society’s Biggest Test Yet
Of Nika and Basmati Rice: another twocents worth on the London riots
Cameron uses riots as excuse to crack down:

Meanwhile Cameron threw cash at firms that have lost money in the riots, saying even uninsured shops will get payouts.

He said any shop affected won’t have to pay business rates, can defer its tax and claim from a £20 million “high street support scheme”.

So while he claims there’s no money for youth centres, or workers’ pensions, or anything else being cut, he can suddenly produce piles of cash for businesses.

Meanwhile it was revealed that MPs will be getting all their flight costs and hotel bills on expenses to compensate them for having to come back from their holidays.

And they’ll also be given money to fly back out again and continue their getaways.

Who are the real looters?

The British government committed a great sin when they ignored this element in society, and focused all their attention on how to save the rich and made hundreds of billions to rescue the banking system -which is the mainstay of the capitalist system – from collapse in 2008, by reducing public spending and cutting billions from the budgets of public services, which led to worsening unemployment, and with it the suffering among the disadvantaged class.
Class war: We want to put fear in hearts of the looters, warn police
‘This is really a deep, festering problem of the underclass at the bottom of Britain’s social ladder, which I don’t think exists to quite such a vast extent in other countries.’
Anonymity and social censorship in the UK riots
Elitist drivel adds fuel to the fire: Prime Minister David Cameron has delivered a statement to the House of Commons on the recent disorder and looting that has taken place in London and other cities.
Africa to send troops, food parcels to UK as riots spread
Dealing with insurrection against the rich in the future : Hypersonic plane could fly Sydney to London in 49 minutes
The UK riots: the psychology of looting
How did the world get so fixated on GDP?

Even growth’s blunt promise of material prosperity is failing. GDP in the UK increased by 11% from 2003 to 2008. Over the same period, median real incomes stagnated. The economy boomed, but few shared in its rewards. Living standards were maintained through unsustainable debt. As we crawl back into recession, the majority will find those rewards still harder to come by – even if a minority continue to grow fat.

Around the world, people act out economic anger
The unrest in the U.K. may be a decisive moment for the modern surveillance state
How to really hug a hoodie
Birmingham vigil: ‘The three who died, died nobly. Don’t riot in their name’ – video

Palestine / Israel Links

But fundamental questions remain. How can a protest in Israel, borrowing the revolutionary energy of the Arab Spring, ignore Israel’s military control of the Palestinians?
Goodbye, Liliane Khalil
Irish activists plan protest aimed at Riverdance’s upcoming performances in Israel
State Department awards $200,000 to Elliott-Abrams-led thinktank repeatedly cited by mass murderer Breivik
Apartheid judges find technicality to reverse conviction of Israeli soldier for attacking Palestinians
Canadian College Media Joins Boycott Divestment Sanction Campaign Against Israeli Apartheid
Israeli misogyny : Haredi woman seeking to purchase light rail ticket in one of Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods sent to stand located two blocks away. Her husband, on the other hand, receives full-service treatment
Here’s hoping – Reut Institute: Israeli Boycott law may backfire
“Bibinomics” have never been popular; Bibi gets the public to support him and to allow his economic terrorism to continue, by using the Palestinian issue, the Iranian issue or social rifts within Israeli society to distract them.

Douchowitless panders and flies in the face of ziolobby attempts to use lawfare to silence criticism of Israel: “It’s a myth that criticism of Israel is silenced,” Dershowitz said in a phone interview with the Post on Thursday. I have spoken at AIPAC many times and have criticized Israeli policy. AIPAC has never silenced me, because AIPAC knows I’m pro-Israel.”
Eleven people detained after clashes erupt during protest against building of separation barrier in village of Walaja.
In February, around 400 members of parliaments from across this continent were brought to Israel in a trip hosted by the European Friends of Israel (EFI). They included 120 members of the European Parliament (MEPs) — one-sixth of that assembly’s total membership.
What Is Rael? The What Is Rael delegation is a Tel Aviv University (TAU) Student Union initiative, whose aim is to “actively contribute to Israel, by sending “Students who consider themselves Zionists” abroad to speak on campuses
The greatest elected body that money can buy

Libya Links

Libya — Lather, Rinse, Repeat — Syria: Liberal Imperialism and the Refusal to Learn
‘The threat of starvation cannot be solved by the replacement of one capitalist ruling class with another’

Australia Links

Aboriginal peoples’ right to traditional homelands in the Northern Territory
A Good Long Look At John Howard’s War In Iraq
Calls for John Howard to face Iraq inquiry
Transportation cases at the Old Bailey

No light had ever been shone on the behaviour of Mr Howard and former foreign minister Alexander Downer.

“They have never been made to sit down and explain why over many, many weeks and months arguing about WMD and terrorism when it was very quickly apparent that the official case for war was a lie,” Mr Wilkie said.

Invasion Day 2011

On “Australia Day” many Australians project yobboish nationalism and drape themselves in the flag US-style, while the self-appointed elite sneer at the ‘bogans’ and ‘bevans’. Yet elitism is another form of the purulent racism with which Australia is infested, a miasm from the colonial aristocracy with roots in British class structure along with a more recent infection from the US ‘Me, me, me’ consumerist culture which values money, power and capitalist competition over community and cooperation.

At my place, we think of Australia Day as Invasion Day, the anniversary of the day our indigenous people saw white sails on the horizon, bringing Little England and its vapid social class structure, filthy diseases and other introduced species and destructive agricultural methods. This is my poem/song about the colonialists’ invasion of Australia.

Blow the Winds

Five years gone since my mate left home
he purchased his ticket to slavery
consigned him to another land
to wait for me in purgatory.
His pretty girl cried silken tears
sent to the gallows with cotton in her ears
they said she lied by the Rule of Law
born and bred a gypsy woman.

I’ll be going now, and I’ll see you soon
Sailing beneath the rising moon,
I’ll look for you in Melbourne town,
and there’s never been a heart so torn.

I stole an heiress in a field one morn
My heart’s in tatters and my hopes are gone,
In 1825, cold and wet and barely alive
I miss my woman and the babes she’s borne,
Fated to hang by a weeping judge,
Now sailing on the winds of scorn.

Blow the winds and fill the sails
take us to hell in New South Wales
The hulks are full in England
with many more like me
Bound to be Australians
with ironclad guarantees.

Me life’s not me own, I’m a Government man,
don’t remember when me term began,
the squatter’s chains rattle in me bones
to please the whims of the English throne.

Thrown into the white man’s cell
for laughin’ late and givin’ ‘em hell,
grabbed by the coppers, ripped from the land
no white fella can understand.
In 1985 another Murri suicides,
and there’s plenty more in Australia
of scoundrels such as me
Australia would be better off
if we’d hung on English trees.

Jin Jirrie

Palestine / Israel Links

Palestine Papers reveal limits of Israeli power
Condoleezza Rice: send Palestinian refugees to South America
US threat to Palestinians: change leadership and we cut funds
Livni: A lawyer ‘against law’? “Livni: I was the Minister of Justice. I am a lawyer… But I am against law – international law in particular. Law in general.”
Expelling Israel’s Arab population? Israeli negotiators, including Tzipi Livni, proposed “swapping” some of Israel’s Arab villages into a Palestinian state.
Rice: US army presence in Iraq protects Israel
Condoleezza Rice: send Palestinian refugees to South America
CFMEU & ASU support Marrickville
Palestine Papers: Why there will never be a State of Palestine
Boycott and I Choke
15 Hamas members arrested by PA
‘Haaretz’: it’s beginning to feel a lot like apartheid
US calls Israeli probe of flotilla raid ‘impartial’ – what a joke – the US tyrants back the Israeli tyrants’ lies
PA admits the memos are authentic; anger grows in the occupied territories and refugee camps across the region
Hamas initiates urgent consultations with Palestinian factions
Palestinian embassy to open in Ireland
@avinunu The criteria for obtaining US support is not whether you are democrat or dictator, but whether you are pro or anti US imperialism. #
Democracy under threat over EI funding, Dutch groups say
Lizzy Ratner: Detailing the Goldstone Report
Urge US Not to Veto Israeli Settlements Resolution
Possible source of Palestine papers leak

Other Links

Protesters take over Tahrir Sq
Obama may get power to shut down Internet without court oversight
From Nasserism to collaboration
Jan 25th Coverage.. the beginning (Part1) – photos
After Tunisia: Obama’s Impossible Dilemma in Egypt

Gandhi Rejected Zionism

A private chuckle emanates from the land of bananas – juxtaposing Chomsky, didact he is, with the visionary Gandhi and his words of 80 years ago is a minor recompense for the grinding realisation that Chomsky may well be right – US foreign policy is cynically fixed in the fifties still, remnants of the cold war stultifying change, recognition of universal human rights, law and pursuit of happiness other than for the privileged, paranoid, bigoted west. Why should they change? the Americans are asleep again, they didn’t know what hit them when 911 came, and have missed the message. Injustice breeds resistance and the more monstrous the injustice, as with the ignored Palestinian cause, the more likely history will repeat, unless the nascent global voice which is taking wing in boycotts, protests, twitters, facebooks and other extraordinary means circumvents the sluggardly grinding wheels of an unwilling political machine.

Here’s Noam anyway, since I’m collecting him of late – it’s a great piece, if depressing.

Barack Obama is recognized to be a person of acute intelligence, a legal scholar, careful with his choice of words. He deserves to be taken seriously – both what he says, and what he omits. Particularly significant is his first substantive statement on foreign affairs, on January 22, at the State Department, when introducing George Mitchell to serve as his special envoy for Middle East peace.

Mitchell is to focus his attention on the Israel-Palestine problem, in the wake of the recent US-Israeli invasion of Gaza. During the murderous assault, Obama remained silent apart from a few platitudes, because, he said, there is only one president – a fact that did not silence him on many other issues. His campaign did, however, repeat his statement that “if missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that.” He was referring to Israeli children, not the hundreds of Palestinian children being butchered by US arms, about whom he could not speak, because there was only one president.

On January 22, however, the one president was Barack Obama, so he could speak freely about these matters – avoiding, however, the attack on Gaza, which had, conveniently, been called off just before the inauguration.

Obama’s talk emphasized his commitment to a peaceful settlement. He left its contours vague, apart from one specific proposal: “the Arab peace initiative,” Obama said, “contains constructive elements that could help advance these efforts. Now is the time for Arab states to act on the initiative’s promise by supporting the Palestinian government under President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, taking steps towards normalizing relations with Israel, and by standing up to extremism that threatens us all.”

Obama is not directly falsifying the Arab League proposal, but the carefully framed deceit is instructive.

The Arab League peace proposal does indeed call for normalization of relations with Israel – in the context – repeat, in the context of a two-state settlement in terms of the longstanding international consensus, which the US and Israel have blocked for over 30 years, in international isolation, and still do. The core of the Arab League proposal, as Obama and his Mideast advisers know very well, is its call for a peaceful political settlement in these terms, which are well-known, and recognized to be the only basis for the peaceful settlement to which Obama professes to be committed. The omission of that crucial fact can hardly be accidental, and signals clearly that Obama envisions no departure from US rejectionism. His call for the Arab states to act on a corollary to their proposal, while the US ignores even the existence of its central content, which is the precondition for the corollary, surpasses cynicism.

The most significant acts to undermine a peaceful settlement are the daily US-backed actions in the occupied territories, all recognized to be criminal: taking over valuable land and resources and constructing what the leading architect of the plan, Ariel Sharon, called “Bantustans” for Palestinians – an unfair comparison because the Bantustans were far more viable than the fragments left to Palestinians under Sharon’s conception, now being realized. But the US and Israel even continue to oppose a political settlement in words, most recently in December 2008, when the US and Israel (and a few Pacific islands) voted against a UN resolution supporting “the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination” (passed 173 to 5, US-Israel opposed, with evasive pretexts).

Obama had not one word to say about the settlement and infrastructure developments in the West Bank, and the complex measures to control Palestinian existence, designed to undermine the prospects for a peaceful two-state settlement. His silence is a grim refutation of his oratorical flourishes about how “I will sustain an active commitment to seek two states living side by side in peace and security.”

Also unmentioned is Israel’s use of US arms in Gaza, in violation not only of international but also US law. Or Washington’s shipment of new arms to Israel right at the peak of the US-Israeli attack, surely not unknown to Obama’s Middle East advisers.

Obama was firm, however, that smuggling of arms to Gaza must be stopped. He endorses the agreement of Condoleeza Rice and Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni that the Egyptian-Gaza border must be closed – a remarkable exercise of imperial arrogance, as the Financial Times observed: “as they stood in Washington congratulating each other, both officials seemed oblivious to the fact that they were making a deal about an illegal trade on someone else’s border – Egypt in this case. The next day, an Egyptian official described the memorandum as `fictional’.” Egypt’s objections were ignored.

Returning to Obama’s reference to the “constructive” Arab League proposal, as the wording indicates, Obama persists in restricting support to the defeated party in the January 2006 election, the only free election in the Arab world, to which the US and Israel reacted, instantly and overtly, by severely punishing Palestinians for opposing the will of the masters. A minor technicality is that Abbas’s term ran out on January 9, and that Fayyad was appointed without confirmation by the Palestinian parliament (many of them kidnapped and in Israeli prisons). Ha’aretz describes Fayyad as “a strange bird in Palestinian politics. On the one hand, he is the Palestinian politician most esteemed by Israel and the West. However, on the other hand, he has no electoral power whatsoever in Gaza or the West Bank.” The report also notes Fayyad’s “close relationship with the Israeli establishment,” notably his friendship with Sharon’s extremist adviser Dov Weiglass. Though lacking popular support, he is regarded as competent and honest, not the norm in the US-backed political sectors.

Obama’s insistence that only Abbas and Fayyad exist conforms to the consistent Western contempt for democracy unless it is under control.

Obama provided the usual reasons for ignoring the elected government led by Hamas. “To be a genuine party to peace,” Obama declared, “the quartet [US, EU, Russia, UN] has made it clear that Hamas must meet clear conditions: recognize Israel’s right to exist; renounce violence; and abide by past agreements.” Unmentioned, also as usual, is the inconvenient fact that the US and Israel firmly reject all three conditions. In international isolation, they bar a two-state settlement including a Palestinian state; they of course do not renounce violence; and they reject the quartet’s central proposal, the “road map.” Israel formally accepted it, but with 14 reservations that effectively eliminate its contents (tacitly backed by the US). It is the great merit of Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, to have brought these facts to public attention for the first time – and in the mainstream, the only time.

It follows, by elementary reasoning, that neither the US nor Israel is a “genuine party to peace.” But that cannot be. It is not even a phrase in the English language.

It is perhaps unfair to criticize Obama for this further exercise of cynicism, because it is close to universal, unlike his scrupulous evisceration of the core component of the Arab League proposal, which is his own novel contribution.

Also near universal are the standard references to Hamas: a terrorist organization, dedicated to the destruction of Israel (or maybe all Jews). Omitted are the inconvenient facts that the US-Israel are not only dedicated to the destruction of any viable Palestinian state, but are steadily implementing those policies. Or that unlike the two rejectionist states, Hamas has called for a two-state settlement in terms of the international consensus: publicly, repeatedly, explicitly.

Obama began his remarks by saying: “Let me be clear: America is committed to Israel’s security. And we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against legitimate threats.”

There was nothing about the right of Palestinians to defend themselves against far more extreme threats, such as those occurring daily, with US support, in the occupied territories. But that again is the norm.

Also normal is the enunciation of the principle that Israel has the right to defend itself. That is correct, but vacuous: so does everyone. But in the context the cliche is worse than vacuous: it is more cynical deceit.

The issue is not whether Israel has the right to defend itself, like everyone else, but whether it has the right to do so by force. No one, including Obama, believes that states enjoy a general right to defend themselves by force: it is first necessary to demonstrate that there are no peaceful alternatives that can be tried. In this case, there surely are.

A narrow alternative would be for Israel to abide by a cease-fire, for example, the cease-fire proposed by Hamas political leader Khaled Mishal a few days before Israel launched its attack on December 27. Mishal called for restoring the 2005 agreement. That agreement called for an end to violence and uninterrupted opening of the borders, along with an Israeli guarantee that goods and people could move freely between the two parts of occupied Palestine, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The agreement was rejected by the US and Israel a few months later, after the free election of January 2006 turned out “the wrong way.” There are many other highly relevant cases.

The broader and more significant alternative would be for the US and Israel to abandon their extreme rejectionism, and join the rest of the world – including the Arab states and Hamas – in supporting a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus. It should be noted that in the past 30 years there has been one departure from US-Israeli rejectionism: the negotiations at Taba in January 2001, which appeared to be close to a peaceful resolution when Israel prematurely called them off. It would not, then, be outlandish for Obama to agree to join the world, even within the framework of US policy, if he were interested in doing so.

In short, Obama’s forceful reiteration of Israel’s right to defend itself is another exercise of cynical deceit – though, it must be admitted, not unique to him, but virtually universal.

The deceit is particularly striking in this case because the occasion was the appointment of Mitchell as special envoy. Mitchell’s primary achievement was his leading role in the peaceful settlement in northern Ireland. It called for an end to IRA terror and British violence. Implicit is the recognition that while Britain had the right to defend itself from terror, it had no right to do so by force, because there was a peaceful alternative: recognition of the legitimate grievances of the Irish Catholic community that were the roots of IRA terror. When Britain adopted that sensible course, the terror ended. The implications for Mitchell’s mission with regard to Israel-Palestine are so obvious that they need not be spelled out. And omission of them is, again, a striking indication of the commitment of the Obama administration to traditional US rejectionism and opposition to peace, except on its extremist terms.

Obama also praised Jordan for its “constructive role in training Palestinian security forces and nurturing its relations with Israel” – which contrasts strikingly with US-Israeli refusal to deal with the freely elected government of Palestine, while savagely punishing Palestinians for electing it with pretexts which, as noted, do not withstand a moment’s scrutiny. It is true that Jordan joined the US in arming and training Palestinian security forces, so that they could violently suppress any manifestation of support for the miserable victims of US-Israeli assault in Gaza, also arresting supporters of Hamas and the prominent journalist Khaled Amayreh, while organizing their own demonstrations in support of Abbas and Fatah, in which most participants “were civil servants and school children who were instructed by the PA to attend the rally,” according to the Jerusalem Post. Our kind of democracy.

Obama made one further substantive comment: “As part of a lasting cease-fire, Gaza’s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime…” He did not, of course, mention that the US-Israel had rejected much the same agreement after the January 2006 election, and that Israel had never observed similar subsequent agreements on borders.

Also missing is any reaction to Israel’s announcement that it rejected the cease-fire agreement, so that the prospects for it to be “lasting” are not auspicious. As reported at once in the press, “Israeli Cabinet Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who takes part in security deliberations, told Army Radio on Thursday that Israel wouldn’t let border crossings with Gaza reopen without a deal to free [Gilad] Schalit” (AP, Jan 22); srael to keep Gaza crossings closed…An official said the government planned to use the issue to bargain for the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier held by the Islamist group since 2006 (Financial Times, Jan. 23); “Earlier this week, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that progress on Corporal Shalit’s release would be a precondition to opening up the border crossings that have been mostly closed since Hamas wrested control of Gaza from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007” (Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 23); “an Israeli official said there would be tough conditions for any lifting of the blockade, which he linked with the release of Gilad Shalit” (FT, Jan. 23); among many others.

Shalit’s capture is a prominent issue in the West, another indication of Hamas’s criminality. Whatever one thinks about it, it is uncontroversial that capture of a soldier of an attacking army is far less of a crime than kidnapping of civilians, exactly what Israeli forces did the day before the capture of Shalit, invading Gaza city and kidnapping two brothers, then spiriting them across the border where they disappeared into Israel’s prison complex. Unlike the much lesser case of Shalit, that crime was virtually unreported and has been forgotten, along with Israel’s regular practice for decades of kidnapping civilians in Lebanon and on the high seas and dispatching them to Israeli prisons, often held for many years as hostages. But the capture of Shalit bars a cease-fire.

Obama’s State Department talk about the Middle East continued with “the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan… the central front in our enduring struggle against terrorism and extremism.” A few hours later, US planes attacked a remote village in Afghanistan, intending to kill a Taliban commander. “Village elders, though, told provincial officials there were no Taliban in the area, which they described as a hamlet populated mainly by shepherds. Women and children were among the 22 dead, they said, according to Hamididan Abdul Rahmzai, the head of the provincial council” (LA Times, Jan. 24).

Afghan president Karzai’s first message to Obama after he was elected in November was a plea to end the bombing of Afghan civilians, reiterated a few hours before Obama was sworn in. This was considered as significant as Karzai’s call for a timetable for departure of US and other foreign forces. The rich and powerful have their “responsibilities.” Among them, the New York Times reported, is to “provide security” in southern Afghanistan, where “the insurgency is homegrown and self-sustaining.” All familiar. From Pravda in the 1980s, for example.

Hillary Clinton once again espouses that which Chomsky alludes to – that Hamas must meet the unmeetable three conditions, before being included in negotiations. One wonders if she is aware of the impossibility of her demands and is being deliberately obtuse.

In the below video, Norman Finkelstein discusses Gandhi philosophy in relation to the Israeli occupation and oppression of Palestinians.

More recently, Finkelstein discusses Gandhi’s principles of non-violence in relation to the Obama administration.