Archive for November, 2012

Palästina: Besatzungsalltag

Donnerstag, November 29th, 2012

“We are being slaughtered with a rusty knife

With Isa and Eid in Nabi Samuel النبي صموئيل

By Aya Kaniuk. Translated by Tal Haran 27.11. 2012

One clod of earth after another, tirelessly, the occupation forces try to remove the remaining inhabitants of Nabi Smauil from their land. And successfully, at that.
Despite the sumud – holding on – and the village myth about the dog of Hajje Shukriya who wouldn’t leave the house in spite of the bulldozers that demolished it and was buried under the rubble, and despite the heart-rending determination of Isa and ‘Id and all the rest.

On October 31st, in the morning, the occupation forces came again to demolish at Nabi Samauil, destroying ‘Id’s storerooms and his uncle Isa’s sheep pen.

We drove there on the morrow, coming from Jerusalem on road no. 436 and turning right towards the village. At the junction stands a sign saying ‘Tomb of the prophet Samuel’, with an arrow pointing uphill. No sign with the name of the village, Nabi Samauil. Every few years the villagers do try to put up a sign naming their village, and the occupation forces inevitably take it down. Perhaps if the village will have a name, the authorities could not claim it doesn’t exist.

We climbed on with the road and reached the lot where Jews coming to Samuel’s Tomb park their cars. Through the gate the mosque of Nabi Smauil is visible. This was the heart of the village in the past, until nearly completely ruined in March 1971.

We turned right again towards the present village. On our left, a large handsome house – home of the village elder, mukhtar, who collaborates with the Israeli authorities. The road to the village is a shambles and filled with potholes. The villagers have tried time and again to repave it. But the occupation forces do not allow them to do so. Again and again they demolished the infrastructure, and confiscated materials. Now, after the villagers have been forbidden to leave Nabi Samuil in their private vehicles, they no longer even try.

‘Id welcomed us. A soft but bold man. He sits next to the grocery shop of his brother Kamal who died last week following failed heart surgery. Fills his place.
Tamar and I first made the acquaintance of Kamal and Id and Isa and Hajje Shukriya several years ago. Since then we have been there close by and witnessed the demolition of Isa’s son’s kitchen, and then the house-roof of Mohammad, Kamal’s nephew.
We were also there when the occupation forces appeared one night and counted all who were present at the village at the time, and removed all the rest from the inhabitants’ list so that from that moment on they would not ever be allowed into their homes again.
We accompanied Kamal, furious and pleading, his heart breaking time and again, when time and again his vegetable stand was destroyed where he tried to sell at the village entrance. At a certain point he reached the hospital, after soldiers turned all of his green ware to the ground, because he yelled “No!” and looked straight at them. And then the soldiers beat him until he fell. So Kamal died last week after undergoing heart surgery. One person less on the village roster, the village the authorities are tirelessly determined to wipe off the face of the earth. The village and the villagers.

They came last night at nine thirty, Id told us as soon as we sat down beside him.
The DCO, with soldiers of the Border Patrol and Shabak (Secret Service), maybe ten jeeps. As usual.
No, we were not notified.
I was sitting at home, and suddenly heard cars. I looked through the window and saw jeeps, and soldiers walking around. Some were already standing at the back of my house. Some on the way. But I wasn’t thinking of demolition at all. I thought they came to take me or my son. So I hurried out and they said, “What’s the problem?”
They’re in my own yard, and they’re asking me what’s the problem…
I asked who the officer was, but before they answered I saw Micha. When I saw Micha I knew… Micha, he’s their guy in charge of house demolitions. I went to him.
He said, “Is that nice?” pointing at the horse’s stall. “Does that look nice, like that?”
He keeps saying that in our village. Is that nice? Is that nice? Making fun of us.
What has nice got to do with anything? If he thinks something doesn’t look nice he should give us a permit, we’ll build in marble.

Two free cows approached us and stood still. And left again. They seemed restless and it was strange. Their stall has been demolished, ‘Id explained. So they have no shade. Poor cows. They’re looking for shade. It’s a mother and a daughter, he added. And you could really tell.

They don’t let us work, ‘Id continued, they won’t let us have an entry permit to go to work. And they won’t let us build a home for our animals. After all we keep animals in order to eat. Because we have no work and no livelihood. That’s what I told Micha, too.
He said to me, get a permit. I told him, I’ve been in your office twenty times, and got no permit. You are in charge here: give me a permit.
You see? They never have. All my life I have not received a single permit for anything. Not for a roof. Not for a barrack. Not for a room for my son. Since they demolished the village they never gave any permits. Since 1971. Only to the Mukhtar.

We already know from the past that only the collaborator and his family can build without the occupation forces demolishing their houses. The one who sells the others for his own gain. Counterfeits claims on the land.

Only he got a permit. (Id’s mouth trembled as he spoke). We didn’t. None of us. Nothing at all.

So we’ll go on building. What can we do…

It was hard this time, he added. We’ve grown accustomed to everything, and then it gets harder. There was teargas. They gassed us. Not exactly gas. It was that yellow stuff. Pepper. Straight in our faces.
You were gassed?
What happened was that many of my family went outside. My brother, and his kids and the kids of my older brother. And the kids of my sister Aida. And Raida’s kids. And the soldiers said not to get close to them. That’s forbidden. So we didn’t.
And then Isa came. And the tractors. And they started. First they destroyed the horse’s stall. It’s been there for six years already. And another shack that has been there for two years. And while they demolished, we did nothing. Just looked on.
For a moment he paused, as if conceptualizing it all again. His eye is very red. He saw our look and said, this is from yesterday. From the pepper spray. For another moment he collected himself, and continued. So after they demolished my stall they went to Isa to destroy his animal stall. Isa started yelling at Micha and swearing at them. So the soldiers began to beat Isa up. I was further away then so I ran over. And so did his daughter. And my brother’s kids. We all tried to protect Isa. Because Isa has had heart surgery. The kind Kamal died of. And he gets very excited. Just two years ago Isa had his animal stall demolished. And just then it snowed so the animals gave birth in the snow, in the water, and all the young ones died. Remember? And we nodded, remembering. We also remembered how hard it was for Isa back then too.
So he is angry. And not young, Isa… And the soldiers jump him. We tried to move the soldiers away. Just to stand so he wouldn’t be beaten up. So they started beating us all up. And they started with that gas. Everyone who the soldiers noticed got gassed in the face. Pepper like.

It is horrible, that gas. Right away you can’t do a thing. You fall to the ground, and it burns. You feel you’re losing your eyes. And you can’t breathe. And it hurts. Terribly.

I didn’t know such pain existed.
And then I don’t know, I was on the ground, and my vision started coming back. And suddenly I saw that another of my relatives was being beaten up by four or five soldiers.

I got up like crazy. I went over there and made them leave him, let him run away from the soldiers. The soldiers wanted to gas me again but I threw myself on the ground so they’d leave me alone.
And the soldiers hit with their hands, and also with their guns. And everyone’s shouting.
They broke my older nephew’s arm. With the butt of a gun. He spent the night in the hospital. In Ramallah. They cut his arm and broke the bone too. And the pepper stuck to the skin of his whole body. I talked to him now, this morning. He can’t see. Can’t move. Has pains in his arm.

Isa just arrived and sat beside us. His eyes too are still red from yesterday, from the pepper spray. Eight people were hospitalized yesterday from what the soldiers did to us. All family, ‘Id went on. Yes, Isa added. My daughter too. Poor girl. She had it bad. She was sprayed too. Went to the hospital yesterday. The older one who takes care of her mother. My wife went too, says Id. Yes… But we didn’t stay there in the hospital. Only my nephew. But now it’s better, added these determined, polite people.

And then Isa asked us how are things. And we talked about the state of things in general. About the occupation. About the weather and his health. And other things. And we were also quiet. And he said, they’re slaughtering us with a rusty knife, not a sharp one.
And he raised his hands in the air in a gesture that led nowhere. And then his hands sank again.

Some more time went by, I don’t remember with what we filled it, and then we got up all of us and went to see for ourselves what had happened. The devastation hurts the eyes. Both from bygone days and from yesterday.
On our way we saw the room Isa had built for his son and was destroyed by the occupation forces two years ago, and the ruined kitchen roof, and then we saw the fruit of the latest demolition. What used to be barracks. Embarrassed piles of stone and tin and planks. One could not possibly imagine what had been there. Suddenly we detected a part of the sheep-feed device, and shifted our gaze for a moment. For the reality of it all struck us in one blow. And then we looked again.

What do you want from our life? That’s what I said to Micha, ‘Id said. But Micha didn’t answer. And he wouldn’t. But I know what they want. They want us to leave here.
And we didn’t say a thing, Tamar and I. For it’s true, after all. It’s all geared to one thing only. To remove the three-hundred villagers who remain in this village in every way that history allows.

Here, look, Isa pointed at another crushed pile. More unidentified rubble. What do they care about the fence. This surrounded the animal stall.
I didn’t start up with you. They did. They came to me, not I to them. His voice contains a despair that seeks meaning.
This is a green fence. Look, it’s actually green… After all they declared this area a national park. So we wouldn’t build. It’s not a national park for the settler, only for us. But if it’s a national park, isn’t green right? Why would they destroy the fence? I don’t understand. It cost me more than the barrack.
And they didn’t just demolish, they crushed it all. The tin, again and again. So we won’t be able to use it ever again. And we saw. Whole piles of ruins. Crushed, wrinkled pieces of tin.

How much effort, we thought, exerted to deny people food. To exhaust them. To make them miserable. How much determination and dedication. Sense of purpose. How tireless, this sinister job.

Here was the pipe. Isa pointed at some other crushed object. When I realized they were going to destroy the sewage pipe I stood facing the tractor. What do they care about the sewage?
They won’t let us have sanitation in the village. It’s forbidden. We’re forbidden to build a sanitation system. They say it’s a nature reserve. But if we are not allowed to have sanitation, then we build this way, above ground. Can people live without sanitation?
I told the tractor, don’t run it over. So he did. Ran over the pipe. So I began to curse: Whores, idiots, thieves, murderers, may you die, I’ll ruin your own house. Not a swearword was left unsaid. You see, when you get so mad you don’t know what you’re saying. I don’t even remember what I said yesterday because I spoke so much. So then one of those criminals said about my swearing: “We speak respectfully”.

I told him, go to hell with your respect.
They speak respectfully but do things disrespectfully, Tamar says.
Exactly, Isa laughs. He respects me with words and disrespectfully ruins my place.
He says how are you Isa and thinks that’s fine and then demolishing is also fine.
Only swearing is wrong, for him.
So don’t honor me. Don’t even get close to me.
I don’t want to know you.
And we all laughed.

Finally we all went back to Isa’s place. We drank coffee that one of his daughters-in-law brought us, wife of the son who was in jail not long ago because he was caught trying to work in Jerusalem. And now he’s already out.
We sat there some more. They, who are caged in. We, who can enter Nabi Samauil as often as we like.

We, and not Isa’s daughter – who married and was registered with a different address in her ID so she can no longer enter the village to visit. While we, who are not Palestinians, can. Precisely because of that.

They don’t want us to live, that’s their point. Not to be… No longer to exist in this world. Isa’s voice was withdrawn. It was difficult to look at him. With his strong body. The body of a man who has tilled the land all his life. And his strong, calloused hands.

And I wondered, not for the first time, how long will Isa be able to go on saying in this obstinate innocence of his that they will never make him leave his land.

What hurts me most in my heart is that they turn us into thieves. They make us criminals Said Isa after another pleasant silence in which we sipped tea quietly and dreamt. If they would give us permits of course we would request permits. If they would let us work we would use their way to go work. But they don’t. They won’t let us build nor work and I do what I can so I’d have food in the village with my animals but they don’t let me do that either. They do it on purpose. To get us away from here. They know that we’ll build even though they don’t give us permits. And they wait for us to build. Because we have no other choice. And then they will come and demolish by their law what we built. They will demolish our village and our lives, by their law.
By law.

The last sight of Nabi Samauil was of the two cows. The older and the younger. Moving back and forth in this miserable village, looking for shade, and there is none.”






Israel: Psychologische Kriegsführung 2.0

Samstag, November 24th, 2012

“Inside Israel’s Twitter War Room

History of a Social Media Arsenal

by Rebecca L. Stein | published November 24, 2012

Within hours of the onset of Operation Pillar of Defense, Israel’s latest military campaign in the Gaza Strip, global news outlets had already turned their spotlight on social media. A raft of stories led with the Israel Defense Forces’ use of the popular networking platforms to advance their public relations message, pointing to their use of Twitter to announce the army’s assassination of Hamas military commander Ahmad al-Ja‘bari and their slickly produced Facebook posts justifying the ongoing aerial bombardment.

By the end of the second day, the notion of a “Twitter battlefield” had become a journalistic truism. Numerous pundits mulled over the meaning of this vanguard shift in military and political strategy. Was Israel charting new worlds of warcraft? Would future war plans be molded in Israel’s likeness, employing a toolbox comprised of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr? Evident in much of the voluminous commentary was a tone of something like wonderment -as if once again, and even under rocket fire, Israeli technology cum modernity had triumphed.

What was lost in all this coverage was the history of the Israeli army’s social media investment, which long precedes 2012. Rather, over the course of the last few years, IDF institutions (along with other state organs) have gradually and carefully built up their presence on social media platforms and established these platforms as key weapons in the state’s public relations arsenal. The chief aim: to make them deployable in times of war.

The Digital Imperative

The army’s interest in the wartime potential of social media can be traced to the first few days of the Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009 (code-named Operation Cast Lead). Then, the IDF launched its own YouTube channel to showcase footage of the Israeli assault and video blogs by army spokespersons -content designed to fill the void left by Israeli state-imposed restrictions on journalists’ access to the Gaza war zone. Despite widespread international condemnation of Cast Lead, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian civilians, the military claimed a decisive public relations victory in the arena of social media, trumpeting the popularity of its YouTube initiative (some videos were viewed more than 2 million times). In the years that followed, the IDF investment in social media would grow exponentially both in budgetary and manpower allocations and in scope, building on this ostensible wartime triumph.

In the IDF’s assessment, Operation Cast Lead had proven the need -indeed, the imperative -for the military to become a skilled and fluent operator within the digital domain. The office of the army spokesperson, where social media work was initially housed, deemed these tools particularly essential during episodes of military confrontation. A senior member of the military’s new media team outlined the operational blueprint succinctly: We gather Twitter followers in times of peace, so that they are ready to disseminate our message when we are at war. [1]

For the IDF’s social media developers, Facebook was the paramount challenge, the site of both the biggest risks and the biggest opportunities. The standard Facebook template was initially seen as infeasible on several grounds. First was the populist character of the platform: “Facebook has a tabloid-y look to it,” an IDF official remarked in March 2011, “and we are, after all, a serious organization.” [2] But perhaps most crucially, Facebook’s signature interactivity, with a “wall” open for public commentary, was regarded as a nearly insurmountable obstacle to the IDF’s aims, due to the anticipated fusillade of criticism. The army learned this lesson during the 2008-2009 Gaza incursion, when its YouTube channel was initially left open to commenters, many of whom turned out to be detractors. The comment function was disabled one day after launch.

On August 14, 2011 -following months of development work -the first official IDF page was launched in English and within one day boasted 90,000 followers (an Arabic-language page, with far fewer followers, appeared shortly thereafter). Engagement with Facebook, the IDF developers decided, required creative manipulation of platform protocols so that they might serve military priorities. The IDF’s retooling of the “like” button was a case in point: “Click ‘Like’ if you support the IDF’s right to defend the state of Israel from those who attempt to harm Israelis,” in the words of an early post (this clunky formulation has since been abandoned, with the IDF now encouraging Facebook users to “share” the army’s content as a way to affirm solidarity with the military’s position). Military personnel articulated the retooling challenge this way: “This is a problem that I face every day. And I have to be creative. I cannot say: ‘Like’ Israel under attack. So, it’s really complicated, but what I try to do is to create a new language, to interpret the language of the army on Facebook.” [3] That fall, army officials lauded plans to administer the Facebook wall around the clock, noting the need for “specific night shifts” on this platform alone -a change enabled by newly appointed staff.

The state’s approach to the Facebook wall would change considerably over time. At first, members of the IDF social media team were anxious to remove what they deemed “derogatory” posts -namely, comments critical of Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories. In subsequent months, the IDF would spell out a looser policy of permitting criticism to remain online and visible to users. In the language of the IDF, this shift in policy was articulated through the metaphor of graffiti, by which the Facebook wall was conceived as a physical edifice, available for public defacement:

We’re not responsible [for the Facebook wall], and I think that people understand that.… Like, if somebody sprays graffiti on the front door of the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, with graffiti that says “Zionist pigs,” nobody would assume that we painted that, but we’re sure not gonna leave it. I think it’s the same general principle. People understand, but if you leave it, it’s kind of tacit approval. As a policy it’s good to get rid of it, but it’s still not immediately important that you do. No one is assuming that it reflects your policies. [4]

Twitter has presented its own problems and possibilities. As of the fall of 2011, the IDF had assigned four officials to tweet in the army’s name (and the number has surely grown since). At this juncture, increasingly aware of the time-sensitive nature of social media content, the new media team was beginning to prepare Twitter messaging ahead of time -drafting boilerplate that might become army communiqués during military actions in the Occupied Territories. To this end, the team assembled statistics highlighting the IDF’s humanitarian interventions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -this narrative being a central pillar of Israel’s public relations efforts where the military occupation is concerned. They argued that such preparations would enable the military’s social media team to deliver real-time responses to detractors in times of crisis, thus effectively deflating political critique. [5] The pace of the initial Facebook output during Pillar of Defense, coupled with aesthetics borrowed from the Hollywood playbook, suggests that advanced content preparation has also been pursued by the IDF’s Facebook team (an effort which, given the volume of media coverage it received, was surely counted as a success by military personnel).

Order vs. Informality

Perhaps the army’s chief social media challenge has been its negotiation of the informal tenor of communication on these popular platforms. And the challenge has been considerable, requiring the highly regimented world of the military to engage laterally with civilian social media users who often post and tweet in a casual, even intimate idiom. A senior representative of the IDF spokesperson’s office described this problem to me as follows:

They [social media] are contradictory to the military institution. Any army is a closed organization, and usually it keeps its secrets and operational details inside. And new media works on the opposite [sic]; also the language is different. The military language is very strict. There’s a lot of abbreviations; it has very specific intonations. And the new media is exactly the opposite -a lot of emotions, a lot of questions…informality. So it’s a bit difficult to teach the military how new media is really an asset, but we’ve been doing it for the past two years. [6]

This army officer touted the potential of new media as a means of spreading information, mainly its ability to reach audiences that traditional media could not. But she conceded that it has been hard persuading the upper echelons to embrace the shift, given its radical departure from conventional military protocols and modes of IDF self-presentation. Over the course of the last two years, the army has endeavored to redress internal reluctance through education, chiefly training courses for officers. [7] But considerable skepticism and ignorance has remained, particularly among the top brass.

At times, the ignorance has led to embarrassing missteps. In the spring of 2011, senior IDF spokesman Avi Benayahu spoke of the military’s intention to enlist “little hackers who were born and raised online,” young people whom the IDF would “screen with special care and train…to serve the state.” His comments were picked up by the Israeli online media and were broadcast on the military’s dedicated YouTube channel. [8] An IDF spokesman later clarified the nature of the misstatement to me by e-mail, explaining that Benayahu had intended to refer to “an army of bloggers,” rather than “hackers” -the latter term disturbing many IDF officials with its unflattering invocation of covert online malfeasance, a notion out of keeping with the self-portrait that the military’s social media team sought to paint. When I looked for Benayahu’s remarks on YouTube at a later date, they were gone -scrubbed, presumably, in the interest of the IDF’s image of professionalism.

The Digital Vernacular

It is clear, in fact, from interviews with IDF officials that the social media project is nascent and sometimes improvisational. Interestingly, the startup nature of the army’s efforts runs counter to the advanced state of the Israeli high-tech sector, with its highly publicized, military-fed innovation, and also to the high levels of social media literacy in the Israeli population at large. In part, officials emphasize, there is simply a “disconnect” between the conventions of social media and the traditional practices of the state. As they are the first to admit, social media platforms, with their relaxed, person-to-person modes of communication, are grossly at odds with the highly regulated ways in which armies operate.

Even as the IDF labors to speak in a language that will be intelligible to the general public, largely abandoning traditional forms of military jargon, its Facebook and Twitter practices remain committed to the foremost military mission -that of asserting control over social media’s highly interactive field. The challenge is made greater by inadequate staffing, the officials say. Errors frequently ensue, and sometimes -as with Benayahu’s confusion of bloggers with hackers -the results are comic.

What is at work in all these instances is what might be termed “digital vernacularization” -a strategic state endeavor to open new channels of public relations in the informal tone that social media demands. At times, the adoption of the digital vernacular has yielded manifestly positive results, or so the state has claimed, pointing to the massive viewership of the IDF’s YouTube clips during the 2008-2009 Gaza war. Yet, arguably, this project also carries a set of risks for the army’s message, particularly given that the digital field is heavily populated by anti-occupation activists who are much more digitally proficient than the IDF, save its younger recruits. Thus, while the army can generate social media content in prodigious amounts, the outcome of this work is far from certain.

The Facebook Everyman

The IDF embrace of social networking has called into question the so-called digital democracy narrative that was marshaled so enthusiastically in early 2011 to explain the success of popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. That storyline not only attributed the toppling of tyrants to social media -a conclusion now justly deemed naïve -but often went further to propose that these technologies were naturally suited to liberatory politics from below, particularly when led by youth. This variant of the digital democracy theorem depended on a companion narrative that posed Middle Eastern states as strictly repressive actors in the digital domain, namely, as institutions committed to monitoring, infiltrating and/or suppressing social media in order to maintain authoritarian control. The chief example, cited frequently by the media, was the Mubarak regime’s shutdown of the Internet amidst turmoil in the streets and the popular occupation of Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo.

The case of the Israeli army muddies this narrative at both ends -troubling its presumptions both about the organic grassroots and about the autocratic state where social media are concerned. Rather, the IDF case points to the highly variable political functions that social media can serve, bolstering the corrective to digital utopianism most famously associated with Evgeny Morozov’s The Net Delusion. Certainly, the Israeli state continues to employ social media as a means of classic counterinsurgency, engaging in digital surveillance and the like. But, as Operation Pillar of Defense has made clear, the Israeli army is also striving to position itself as a lateral social media user in its own right -a Facebook everyman of sorts. As such, the army employs the quotidian language and norms of networking platforms, always striving to fine-tune its sense of the social media vernacular, while adapting these tools in pursuit of wartime public relations objectives. This model of digital militarism invites a wholesale rethinking of lingering faith in the progressive political promise of social media.

As the Israeli barrage escalated and ground troops mobilized, as fatalities mounted (Palestinian deaths far outstripping Israeli ones), and as images of the Gaza devastation circulated, media outlets by and large left the social media angle behind. It took the satirists at The Onion, however, to point out the multiple ironies of the first two days’ viral social media story: “Palestinian Family Trapped Under Rubble Thrilled to Hear ‘Gaza’ Trending on Twitter.” As The Onion headline pithily put it, the initial focus on social media functioned largely to obfuscate the backdrop to the violence on the ground. Even now, with the social media luster fading and a ceasefire in place, the obfuscation is still present, albeit in different forms. Chief among them is that most familiar of storylines: the near exclusive framing of Operation Pillar of Defense as a war between two parties on an equal footing, the language of “conflict” replacing that of “military occupation.” One thing is clear: As far as the Israeli army is concerned, the social media battlefield is here to stay.


[1] Interview with senior IDF spokesman, Jerusalem, June 2012.
[2] Interview with senior IDF spokesman, Tel Aviv, March 2011.
[3] Interview with senior IDF spokesman, Tel Aviv, November 2011.
[4] Interview with senior IDF spokesman, Tel Aviv, November 2011.
[5] Interview with senior IDF spokesman, Tel Aviv, November 2011.
[6] Interview with senior IDF spokesman, Tel Aviv, March 2011.
[7] Interview with senior IDF spokesman, Tel Aviv, November 2011.
[8] YNet, February 8, 2011.”



Indien/Pakistan: 65 Jahre Kaschmirkonflikt

Samstag, November 24th, 2012

“Das verlorene Paradies

von Edgar Benkwitz

Das Blättchen | 15. Jahrgang | Nummer 23 | 12. November 2012

„Wenn es ein Paradies auf Erden gibt, dann ist es hier, dann ist es hier …“. So sang einst ein persischer Dichter. Sein Vers ziert einen Pavillon im Shalimar Bagh, dem berühmten Moghulgarten in Srinagar, der Hauptstadt Kaschmirs. Er drückt das Lebensgefühl der grossen Moghul-Herrscher Indiens aus, die das Kaschmirtal für sich entdeckten und es als ein Zentrum ihrer Macht nutzten. Und in der Tat rechtfertigten die Schönheit der Landschaft, die blühende Kultur, die uralten innerasiatischen Handelswege, aber vor allem das Zusammenleben verschiedener Volksgruppen mit drei Weltreligionen – Buddhismus, Hinduismus, Islam – viele Jahrhunderte diesen Anspruch. Eine Ironie der Geschichte ist es, dass ausgerechnet zu dem Zeitpunkt, wo der indische Subkontinent endgültig die koloniale Herrschaft der Briten abschüttelte, der Niedergang dieser Region begann. Denn mit der Teilung Britisch-Indiens in Indien und Pakistans 1947 entstand der Streit um Kaschmir. Mehrere Kriege wurden geführt, zehntausende von Menschenleben geopfert, Ressourcen der beiden armen Länder vernichtet. Heute stehen sich an einer Waffenstillstandslinie, die durch Kaschmir verläuft, zwei hochgerüstete Armeen gegenüber. Trotz gelegentlicher Entspannungsphasen ist der Konflikt weit von einer Lösung entfernt, seine Gefährlichkeit hat sich noch verschärft: Beide Staaten verfügen über Atomwaffen (siehe Wolfgang Schwarz in: Das Blättchen, Sonderausgabe 4/2012), und der internationale islamistische Terrorismus hat sich in Kaschmir festgesetzt.

Kaschmir, das Hochtal im Norden des indischen Subkontinents ist mit seinen angrenzenden Territorien im Himalaya mehr als 220.000 Quadratkilometer gross. Es war bis 1947 ein selbständiges Fürstentum, erkannte aber die Oberhoheit der Briten an. Der Maharadscha hatte die Wahl, sich entweder für die gerade entstehenden Staaten Indien oder Pakistan zu entscheiden oder selbständig zu bleiben. Maharadscha Hari Singh, ein Hindu-Fürst mit grösstenteils muslimischer Bevölkerung, legte sich jedoch nicht fest und weckte damit die Begehrlichkeiten seiner beiden neuen Nachbarn. Pakistan beanspruchte schon vor seiner Entstehung mehrheitlich muslimische Gebiete des kolonialen Indien. Indien hingegen betonte, dass solche Gebiete in seinem säkularen Staatenverbund am besten aufgehoben seien. Die Unentschlossenheit des Maharadschas führte schon wenige Wochen später zu einer Invasion muslimischer Stammeskrieger (Paschtunen) in das Kaschmirtal, die die Zugehörigkeit zu Pakistan erzwingen wollten. Neu Delhi, um Hilfe gebeten, beharrte zuvor auf einen Beitritt Kaschmirs zu Indien. Als das geschehen war, begannen indische Luftlandetruppen im Kaschmirtal die Eindringlinge zu vertreiben. Im Gegenzug setzte Pakistan offiziell seine Truppen ein, der erste indisch-pakistanische Krieg hatte begonnen. Die UNO erreichte 1949 einen Waffenstillstand, die Waffenstillstandslinie gilt bis heute. Und bis heute gibt es eine Dreiteilung des umstrittenen Gebietes. Indien kontrolliert 60 Prozent dieses Territoriums (die Regionen Jammu, Kaschmirtal, Ladakh), Pakistan kontrolliert 30 Prozent (die Regionen Gilgit-Ballistan, Azad-Kaschmir) und schliesslich hat China seit 1962 einen Teil von Ladakh unter Kontrolle (Aksai Chin) – das sind zehn Prozent.
Diese Proportionen zu verändern und letztendlich Kaschmir an Pakistan anzuschließen ist das Ziel pakistanischer Politik. Dafür hat es in der Vergangenheit alle Mittel eingesetzt, die von der Organisierung internationalen Drucks auf Indien, der Auslösung militärischer Konflikte bis zum Einsatz von Insurgenten und Terroristen reichen. Bereits 1948 legte die UNO ein Referendum fest, wonach die Kaschmiris über ihre Zukunft selbst bestimmen sollten. Es tauchte zwar immer wieder auf der politischen Bühne auf, hatte aber nie eine Chance auf Realisierung. Nur wenig später wurde Pakistan Mitglied der westlichen Militärbündnisse SEATO und CENTO, mit China wurde eine militärische Zusammenarbeit vereinbart. Indien hingegen blieb nichtpaktgebunden, lehnte sich aber stärker an die Sowjetunion an, bei der es sich politisch rückversicherte (Vertrag über Frieden, Freundschaft und Zusammenarbeit). 1965 und 1971 kam es erneut zu Kriegen zwischen Indien und Pakistan. Letzteres, inzwischen militärisch aufgerüstet, konnte 1965 trotz aller Anstrengungen den status quo nicht ändern. Im Abkommen von Taschkent musste es friedlichen Lösungen zustimmen. 1971 war Ostpakistan der Schauplatz des Krieges, in dessen Ergebnis die pakistanische Armee kapitulieren musste. Pakistan verlor seine östliche Provinz, mit Bangladesh entstand ein neuer Staat. Pakistan wurde enorm geschwächt; auch sein Gründungsmythos, Heimat aller Muslime zu sein, schwer beschädigt, da Bangladesh ebenfalls eine muslimische Bevölkerung hat. Indien hatte bereits 1957 das von ihm kontrollierte Gebiet in den Bundesstaat Jammu und Kaschmir umgewandelt und bestehende Autonomieprivilegien weitgehend abgeschafft. Diese Integration des größten Teils des umstrittenen Kaschmirgebietes in die Indische Union stieß auf erbitterten Widerstand Pakistans. Doch auch im Kaschmirtal regte sich Widerstand. Die muslimische Bevölkerung protestierte 1987/88 gegen Wahlfälschungen und polizeiliche Willkür, sie verlangte zudem eine Verbesserung ihrer sozialen Lage. Zunächst friedliche Demonstrationen schlugen in Gewalt um, wobei viele der Gewalttäter von Pakistan infiltriert waren. Ihnen folgten aus Ausbildungslagern von jenseits der Grenze die gefürchteten Mujaheddins mit Kämpfern aus der internationalen Terrorszene. Vertreter indischer Behörden wurden ermordet, aber auch gemäßigte Muslime nicht verschont. Indien versuchte dem mit der Verstärkung seiner Sicherheitskräfte zu begegnen. Sie wurden auf 200.000 Mann aufgestockt und mit Sonderrechten ausgestattet. Mittlerweile hat sich eine Lage entwickelt, in der die indischen Truppen als Okkupationsarmee angesehen werden. Schätzungen zufolge beträgt die Zahl der Opfer durch Terror und Verfolgungen seit 1988 allein im Kaschmirtal über 50.000.
Aber auch an der Waffenstillstandslinie gibt es immer wieder Zwischenfälle. Der schwerste ereignete sich im Sommer 1999 im Kargil-Gebiet, im Karakorum, wo auf 5.000 Meter Höhe um einen 160-Kilometer-Abschnitt der Waffenstillstandslinie gekämpft wurde. Tausenden indischen Soldaten gelang es erst nach Wochen, im Winter vorgerückte Pakistanis zurückzudrängen. Zum „höchstgelegenen Kriegsschauplatz der Welt“ entwickelte sich dann der Siacheng-Gletscher, wo in unvorstellbaren Höhen bis zu 6.700 Meter ein ständiger Kleinkrieg stattfand. Hier sollen sich 3.000 pakistanische und 5.000 indische Soldaten aufhalten. Im April dieses Jahres wurde der Wahnsinn der Aktionen nochmals deutlich, als eine Lawine in 4.500 Meter Höhe ein Bataillonshauptquartier der pakistanischen Armee wegriss und 139 Opfer unter einer 70 Meter hohen Schneedecke begrub.
Der Kaschmirkonflikt hat während seines fünfundsechzigjährigen Bestehens längst jeglichen Anspruch auf irgendeine Rechtmäßigkeit verloren. Kaschmir, einst blühende Region, wurde systematisch verwüstet. Salman Rushdie, dessen familiäre Wurzeln sich in Kaschmir befinden, nennt es resignierend „das verlorene Paradies“. In einem kürzlichen Interview plädiert er für die Wiederherstellung des Status von 1947, Kaschmir als selbständiger Staat, dessen Grenzen Indien und Pakistan garantieren sollten. Doch das ist illusorisch. Denkbar wäre vielmehr die völkerrechtliche Festschreibung des jetzigen status quo, wie sie des Öfteren im Gespräch ist. Doch das setzt eine Abkehr von alten Denkmustern, vor allem in Pakistan voraus. Vorbedingung wäre die Zurückdrängung des Terrorismus und die Einstellung seiner Unterstützung durch pakistanische Organe. Damit könnte eine Befriedung des Gebiets erreicht und der Konfliktherd entschärft werden. Für die leidgeprüften Bewohner wäre allein das – verglichen mit der gegenwärtigen Lage – ein paradiesischer Zustand.”


(Quelle: Das Blättchen.)

USA: Don’t worry about your government

Dienstag, November 20th, 2012

“Declassified Pentagon History Provides Hair-Raising Scenarios of U.S. Vulnerabilities to Nuclear Attack through 1970s

Study Specifically Addresses U.S. Strategic Command-Control-and-Communications [C3] Systems

President Could Try to Survive Attack by Escaping or Try to Command U.S. Forces – But Not Both, According to One Report

Reagan Spent Billions on C3 Upgrades But Kept Secret Its Top Priority

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 403

Posted – November 19, 2012

Edited by William Burr

For more information contact:
William Burr – 202/994-7000 or

Washington, D.C., November 19, 2012 — For decades, U.S. command-control-and-communications (C3) systems were deeply vulnerable to nuclear attack, according to a recently declassified Pentagon study. The document, a top secret internal history of the highly complex procedures that connected the White House and senior civilian and military leaders with local commanders awaiting orders to launch bombers and missiles, details sometimes harrowing reports about systemic weaknesses that could have jeopardized U.S. readiness to respond to a nuclear attack.

According to the report, A Historical Study of Strategic Connectivity 1950-1981, prepared by the Joint Chiefs of Staff Historical Division, earlier top-secret analyses had concluded that despite the presence of counter-measures installed over the years, high altitude bursts and electromagnetic pulses could still paralyze communications links and cut warning time of an attack to as little as seven minutes. Furthermore, nuclear detonations could destroy presidential helicopters along with the vital National Emergency Airborne Command Post (NEACP), putting in question whether the U.S. would be capable of delivering a nuclear response – the essence of deterrence.

A 1978 Defense Science Board report cited by the JCS history found that the “provisions for National Command Authority survival were critically deficient.” If the President happened to be in Washington, D.C. at the time of a nuclear attack, “it would be possible … for the President either to command the forces until the attack hit Washington and he was killed or to try to escape and survive, but not both.”

The National Security Archive obtained this JCS historical study through a Freedom of Information Act appeal to the Defense Department. The Pentagon had previously released the document but in massively excised form. This briefing book is one of a series of occasional postings aimed at disseminating new documentation on a variety of nuclear issues as it becomes available through U.S. government declassification processes.

Read today’s posting at the National Security Archive’s Nuclear Vault –


(Quelle: National Security Archive.)

USA: Wiederholungshandlung

Montag, November 12th, 2012

“Julian Assange says victorious Barack Obama ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’

London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday described re-elected US President Barack Obama as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” and said he expected his government to continue attacking the anti-secrecy website.

Speaking to AFP by telephone from Ecuador’s London embassy, where he sought asylum in June in a bid to avoid extradition to Sweden over sex crime allegations, Assange said Obama’s victory was no cause for celebration.

“Obama seems to be a nice man, and that is precisely the problem,” the 41-year-old Australian said, after the president defeated Republican Mitt Romney on Tuesday night to sweep back into the White House.

“It’s better to have a sheep in wolf’s clothing than a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

He added: “All of the activities against WikiLeaks by the United States have occurred under an Obama administration.

“The Republican party has not been an effective restraining force on government excesses over the last four years.

“There is no reason to believe that will change -in fact, the Republicans will push the administration into ever greater excesses.”

Assange called on the United States to free Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking a huge cache of classified military documents to WikiLeaks and has been held in solitary confinement in a military prison for over two years.

“The re-election of Barack Obama coincides with the 899th day of Bradley Manning’s confinement,” Assange said.

WikiLeaks enraged Washington in 2010 by leaking thousands of classified US documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and embarrassing diplomatic cables from US embassies around the world.

Assange was arrested that same year.

He denies the allegations of rape and sexual assault and claims that if he is extradited to Sweden he could be passed on to the United States and prosecuted, facing treatment similar to Manning’s or even the death sentence.”



Australien: Musik mit Köpfchen

Freitag, November 9th, 2012

The Conch: World Citizen

Can you tell me now what we’re going to fight for?
World leaders are calling us to war
Knowing that two wrongs don’t make a right?
Why should I obey when they tell me to fight?
Arming up the world with their guns and tanks
Power for the pentagon and money for the banks
Trying to make an enemy of you and me
An enemy mentality

I’m a world citizen…

They keep on asking who but they don’t ask why
They could find the answers but they never even try
Control the world but they say we’re free
They got control mentality
Let us speak the truth out loud and clear
It’s not the refugees that we should fear
Laying the blame at our neighbours’ door
What is all this fighting for?

I am a world citizen – no matter your religion
I am a world citizen – or the colour of your skin
I am a world citizen – world wide community
I am a world citizen

Open up your eyes and your mind to history
Know your place in the unfolding of humanity
Behind the chaos of the world there is inspiration
Bearing the flags of justice and of liberation
We have a world that has come to us and is forever
Will it be life and love or the never never
If we divide the world and the human race
We’ll never know the beauty of this place

Operation infinite injustice
Trying to divide the world into them and us

Were gonna make our voice heard through the protest and the pen
‘Cause we’re never gonna find the truth out on CNN
Gonna build a movement in our homes and on the streets
The people’s movement is the one they won’t defeat
Take up the slogans of the movement for change
Everybody’s eventually gonna have to take the stage
And if the truth is gonna be heard
We’re gonna go out and spread the word

I am a world citizen – no matter your religion
I am a world citizen – or the colour of your skin
We are world citizens – world wide community
We are world citizens – no difference between you and me

No wonder there’s migration
And so many refugees
An island for the rich
In a sea of poverty

There’s no money for education
Or money for the poor
But hey presto, like magic
There’s plenty for a war

And no wonder there is terror,
Death and conflagration
People ground down by injustice
And humiliation

You complain there’s evil doers
Becoming human bombs
Why you are surprised
When you’re selling them the arms?

So when you sip your cognac
On this you just might ponder
When all you do is kill and kill
And all you do is plunder

And when you put your fences up
And put human rights aside
You make us all ashamed
By your cheating and your lies

There’s plenty of room in the world
We have to share this space
It’s 4 billion years old
No one can own this place

The storm clouds are a brewin’
We’re in for nasty weather
We fix things up as one
Or we all go down together

But just like the best laid
Plans of mice and men
We must change track, we gotta go back
To the drawing board again.

“I am a world citizen”


(Quelle: The Conch.)


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