what obama reads (or should read)

the other day amira hass had an article in ha’aretz, which i suspect barack obama did not read. in it she articulates the obvious: that the israeli colonial terrorist state has never been invested in peace, only in war and in a never-ending series of negotiations:

Successive Israeli governments since 1993 certainly must have known what they were doing, being in no hurry to make peace with the Palestinians. As representatives of Israeli society, these governments understood that peace would involve serious damage to national interests.

Economic damage:

The security industry is an important export branch – weapons, ammunition and refinements that are tested daily in Gaza and the West Bank. The Oslo process – negotiations that were never meant to end – allowed Israel to shake off its status as occupying power (obligated to the welfare of the occupied people) and treat the Palestinian territories as independent entities. That is, to use weapons and ammunition at a magnitude Israel could not have otherwise used on the Palestinians after 1967. Protecting the settlements requires constant development of security, surveillance and deterrence equipment such as fences, roadblocks, electronic surveillance, cameras and robots. These are security’s cutting edge in the developed world, and serve banks, companies and luxury neighborhoods next to shantytowns and ethnic enclaves where rebellions must be suppressed.

The collective Israeli creativity in security is fertilized by a state of constant friction between most Israelis and a population defined as hostile. A state of combat over a low flame, and sometimes over a high one, brings together a variety of Israeli temperaments: rambos, computer wizards, people with gifted hands, inventors. Under peace, their chances of meeting would be greatly reduced.

Damage to careers:

Maintaining the occupation and a state of non-peace employs hundreds of thousands of Israelis. Some 70,000 people work in the security industry. Each year, tens of thousands finish their army service with special skills or a desirable sideline. For thousands it becomes their main career: professional soldiers, Shin Bet operatives, foreign consultants, mercenaries, weapons dealers. Therefore peace endangers the careers and professional futures of an important and prestigious stratum of Israelis, a stratum that has a major influence on the government.

Damage to quality of life:

A peace agreement would require equal distribution of water resources throughout the country (from the river to the sea) between Jews and Palestinians, regardless of the desalination of seawater and water-saving techniques. Even now it’s hard for Israelis to get used to saving water because of the drought. It’s not difficult to guess how traumatic a slash in water consumption to equalize distribution would be.

Damage to welfare:

As the past 30 years have shown, settlements flourish as the welfare state contracts. They offer ordinary people what their salaries would not allow them in sovereign Israel, within the borders of June 4, 1967: cheap land, large homes, benefits, subsidies, wide-open spaces, a view, a superior road network and quality education. Even for those Israeli Jews who have not moved there, the settlements illuminate their horizon as an option for a social and economic upgrade. That option is more real than the vague promises of peacetime improvements, an unknown situation.

Peace will also reduce, if not erase entirely, the security pretext for discriminating against Palestinian Israelis – in land distribution, development resources, education, health employment and civil rights (such as marriage and citizenship). People who have gotten used to privilege under a system based on ethnic discrimination see its abrogation as a threat to their welfare.

if there were really “peace,” which of course will never happen without justice (read: right of return for palestinian refugees), then the zionist entity would not be able to dump toxic waste on palestinian land as mel frykberg reported in ips:

“Israel has been dumping waste, including hazardous and toxic waste, into the West Bank for years as a cheaper and easier alternative to processing it properly in Israel at appropriate hazardous waste management sites,” Palestinian Environmental Authority (PEA) deputy director Jamil Mtoor told IPS.

Shuqbah, a village of 5,000, lies near the border of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, not far from Ramallah. Israeli companies have been using land owned by a Palestinian middleman in the village to dump tonnes of garbage for as little as 30 dollars per tonne, significantly cheaper than dumping it at Israeli waste sites.

“For several years Israeli companies have been dumping solid and hazardous waste there,” Mtoor told IPS. “The subsequent burning of toxic waste including items such as x-ray films releases carcinogens into the environment, and this has affected the population, with many people developing asthma and related illnesses.”

The Israelis earlier buried the carcasses of thousands of chickens infected with the avian flu virus near Nablus in the northern West Bank, said Mtoor. The PEA also uncovered 500 barrels of insecticide in Hebron in the southern West Bank. Again, a Palestinian middleman had been paid off to accept the barrels on his property.

if there were an end to colonialism in palestine, which is the only way that a real solution could be maintained, then the zionist entity would have to do something about its maps, including those in its textbooks (see second image below), but also its tourist industry maps as per the one below that they are posting all over london:

wiping palestine off the map: zionist entity's ad campaign in london
wiping palestine off the map: zionist entity's ad campaign in london

the palestine solidarity campaign is asking for people to write letters to protest these ads, which you can do by clicking the link below:

Posters have recently appeared in London Underground tube stations advertising Israel as a tourist destination. The map on the advert depicts Israel as incorporating the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.

Please write to London Underground, the Advertising Standards Agency and CBS Outdoors – the company which manages the poster sites – asking for the removal of these posters, which deliberately deny the existence of Palestine.

zionist entity's textbook showing what it considers to be its borders
zionist entity's textbook showing what it considers to be its borders

of course the zionists, along with their buddy hillary clinton, love to go on and on about palestinians recognizing them and their rights to colonize palestinian land as well as the mythology of palestinian textbooks inciting violence. a lot of this discussion over palestinian textbooks has been about maps–that they don’t recognize borders as delineated by the zionist entity. of course, they never mention the fact that their textbooks–and their colonizing terrorist state in general–have never marked such borders. and palestinians, because this is their land, must show the borders from the river to the sea: this is their history and their future. in any case, yesterday with obama, benjamin netanyahu decided to bring up the textbooks again:

If, however, the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, if they — if they fight terror, they educate their children for peace and to a better future, then I think we can come to a substantive solution that allows the two peoples to live side by side in security and peace. And I add prosperity (inaudible).

for those who still believe this zionist propaganda about the textbooks, you should check out the german georg eckert institute’s study on this, which put to rest several years ago these bogus claims in spite of hillary and company.

but obama was offered another sort of lesson from netanyahu yesterday in the form of a book. not the sort of book that hugo chavez gave to obama–eduardo galeano’s open veins of latin america. the ever inspirational rania blogged about this last month:

Chavez’s gift was a very wise way (if accidental) to get the book international attention and increases its sales and readership — and thus increase awareness on the centuries of colonization and theft of Latin America and thus increase understanding and, potentially, solidarity. Chavez explained: “This book is a monument in our Latin American history. It allows us to learn history, and we have to build on this history.”

but the book netanyahu gave to obama was none other than mark twain’s orientalist tale of traveling in the holy land otherwise known as the innocents abroad:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with a copy of “Pleasure Excursion to the Holy Land,” from Mark Twain’s book “The Innocents Abroad,” when they meet in Washington today. Netanyahu received the book, along with a newly published version in Hebrew (translated by Oded Peled), from the Kinneret Zmora-Bitan publishing house.

In his travel memoir, Twain describes a 1867 trip to the Land of Israel, which he finds a backward and desolate place devoid of culture or law. “Renowned Jerusalem itself, the stateliest name in history, has lost all its ancient grandeur, and is become a pauper village,” he states, calling it a country where prosperity had died out, a place of lost splendor and beauty where joy has turned to sorrow, and where silence and death prevail in its holy places.

actually, while i have serious problems with much of twain’s writing about the arab world in this book, an astute reading of it requires one to also see the irony in it. i wonder, for instance, what obama would make of this passage of twain’s travelogue to the region:

This morning‭, ‬during breakfast‭, ‬the usual assemblage of squalid humanity sat patiently without the charmed circle of the camp and waited for such crumbs as pity might bestow upon their misery‭. ‬There were old and young‭,‬ brown skinned and yellow‭. ‬Some of the men were tall and stalwart‭, (‬for one hardly sees any where such splendid-looking men as here in the East‭,)‬ but all the women and children looked worn and sad‭, ‬and distressed with hunger‭. ‬They reminded me much of Indians‭, ‬did these people‭. ‬They had but little clothing‭, ‬but such as they had was fanciful in character and fantastic in its arrangement‭. ‬Any little absurd gewgaw or gimcrack they had they disposed in such a way as to make it attract attention most readily‭. ‬They sat in silence‭, ‬and with tireless patience watched our every motion with that vile‭, ‬uncomplaining impoliteness which is so truly Indian‭, ‬and which makes a white man so nervous and uncomfortable and savage that he wants to exterminate the whole tribe‭.

twain’s entire text, by the way, can be downloaded for free from project gutenberg in six parts (the link above is to part five where this excerpt comes from). but this description of the palestinians–in comparison to indigenous americans–is telling for a number of reasons most notably the reaction colonizers–both american and zionist–have to the indigenous. while perhaps white man in chief, netanyahu, in the zionist entity is not “exterminating” palestinians right now, they are certainly finding other methods of removal from their ethnic, exclusive, colonial, racist, apartheid regime. building jewish-only colonies that force palestinians out of their homes and off of their land is one such method:

Shortly after the meeting between US President, Barack Obama, and the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli sources said that a new Jewish only settlement would be constructed in the Jordan Valley, less that 20 kilometers away from the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

The new settlement plan was seen by several Palestinian and international officials as a clear Israeli message to the US administration that the country does not intend to halt the construction and expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The plan comes while Israel is formulating more plans to link major Israeli settlements in the West Bank with Jerusalem in spite of the increasing international condemnation.

and yet another eviction and new colony in al quds:

Israel plans to build 250 units of settlement housing after it forcibly evacuates two East Jerusalem families, a lawyer for the Palestinian president’s office said on Tuesday.

Attorney Ahmad Ar-Ruwaidi said Israel plans to level a total of 27 homes on the family’s Shiekh Jarrah properties after the families are removed, “while the world talks about human rights, genocide, and ethnic cleansing.”

“Once again, Israeli judiciary proved that it is a tool in the hands of Israeli settlement organizations which are conducting settlement programs in Al-Bustan and other neighborhoods of Jerusalem,” he said.

The remarks come after the Israeli district court decided on Sunday to fine each family 50,000 US dollars, with a further fine of 50,000 shekels (12,500 US dollars) if they do not evacuate by 19 July, the date of a court hearing.

The eviction order was issued by “Hotza Laphoal” the Israeli institution that executes court orders.

The families are two of the 27 that live in a 28-building complex in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The court ruled in favor of a settler organization, Nahalat Shimon, which claims it is the owner of the buildings. The Palestinians are accused of not paying rent to these self-proclaimed landlords.

but in the meeting between obama and netanyahu yesterday it became clear–or perhaps before yesterday?–that it is not any longer the dismantling colonies that the united states advocates; rather, it just wants them to stop building. good luck with either of those. here is ha’aretz’s take on the meeting:

Obama also reminded Israel of its commitment, under a 2003 U.S.-backed peace road map agreement to cease settlement activity in the West Bank.

“We talked about restarting serious negotiations on issues of Israel and the Palestinians,” Obama said, adding that it was in the interests of both sides “to achieve a two-state solution.”

Netanyahu, in his remarks, reiterated that he supported self-government for the Palestinians but made no mention of a state, a position underscoring a rare rift in U.S.-Israeli relations.

“We don’t want to govern the Palestinians. We want them to govern themselves,” Netanyahu said, echoing statements he has made in the past.

for a real justice-based solution, of course, colonies everywhere in historic palestine must stop. it’s not just about the west bank. it is about historic palestine and justice for refugees. but of course we never hear these words from the zionist entity or the u.s. now it’s just about the colonies (u.s.) or iran (zionist entity). here is jacky rowland’s report for al jazeera laying out these issues before netanyahu went to washington:

but the elephant in the room remains palestinian refugees and their right of return. if obama wants to seek justice, which would lead to peace, in the region then he should read are stories like this one of palestinian nakbas and refugee rights as suleiman abu jazzar tells rami almaghari narrates in electronic intifada:

“Only if we return to our homeland, can there be peace. But as long as [Israel] keeps us refugees, we have no choice to resist them now and for generations to come, until we are back in Beir al-Saba,” said 75-year-old Suleiman Abu Jazzar in his home in the Brazil refugee camp in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.

Along with more than 700,000 other Palestinians, Abu Jazzar was forced from historic Palestine by Zionist forces in 1948, a period referred to by Palestinians as the Nakba (catastrophe) and commemorated in mid-May while Israel celebrates its “Independence Day.” During 1947-48, Zionist paramilitary groups — which later formed the Israeli army — attacked and destroyed more than 450 Palestinian towns and villages. Abu Jazzar’s town of Beir al-Saba was given the Hebrew name of Beersheva by its conquerers.

Abu Jazzar and his family are amongst the more than 4.5 million registered Palestinian refugees living in camps in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon — unable to return to their land, though their right to return is enshrined in international law. There are millions of other Palestinians scattered around the globe comprising the Diaspora, a nation in exile.

“Prior to 1948, we used to live peacefully and happily in our hometown of Beer al-Saba. All out of a sudden, armed Jewish groups attacked the town and displaced my family including myself, as well as many other families,” recalled Abu Jazzar.

“In that period, we fled [to the outskirts of] Beir al-Saba, leaving behind us heaps of barley, our main harvest at that time. When night falls, I recall that myself and other youths of the town, used to sneak into these heaps to bring food for hungry children and women.

“After a while, the Jews began to spot us, and finally we were all displaced form the whole area, leading us to the Gaza Strip, where me and my family were settled in the Rafah area here,” Abu Jazzar said while laying on a sofa in a traditionally-decorated room.

Asked whether residents of Beir al-Saba resisted the Zionist forces, Abu Jazzar put much blame on the Arab countries and armies for the Palestinian refugees’ situation.

“There were no Israeli warplanes at that time, only tanks. Also, their numbers were not that big, but unfortunately we had no guns or weapons. I only recall that someone from the Barahma tribe had a gun. I really blame the Arab armies, which failed us. Their weapons were not that effective. These armies did not even train us how to fight; we were merely farmers and had nothing to do with armament. They are to be blamed for our plight.”

Abu Jazzar endured not only the 1948 dispossession, but he witnessed and survived other Israeli wars and conflicts that he described as more Nakbas for the Palestinian people.

“In 1956, the occupation forces invaded our towns here in Gaza, using tanks and armored vehicles. Also, in 1967, they invaded us again and continued to occupy us until recently. They are not leaving us, they don’t want us to live peacefully,” he said.

More recently, Israeli army launched a three-week comprehensive attack on the Gaza Strip, killing more than 1,400 Palestinians — the majority of them civilians. During this war, Abu Jazzar’s asbestos-roofed house was partially damaged, as Israeli forces destroyed many houses in his neighborhood.

“Only God saved us during the Gaza war, the [Israelis] only want to destroy us completely. I didn’t go anywhere during the war; my family and I remained at the house. Where to go? … In 1948, we left our house and left our farm lands, thinking we would return in a few days. But as you see, son, we are here for 61 years now, and who knows how long we will remain so?”

Umm Salah, Abu Jazzar’s 70-year-old wife, sang a Palestinian folk song about the events of 1948: “You have made us refugees. When we fled al-Ramla and Beir al-Saba, heading to Gaza, carrying our luggage on our shoulders, we wondered: what did you do for us, Ben Gurion [Israel’s first prime minister], you brought us a Nakba!”

Sighing deeply, she said that only God protects them, but she hopes for peace, nevertheless.

“It is true that they are more powerful than us, but where can we go — where? We just resist them by our steadfastness on this land, sticking to our homes,” Umm Salah said.

Both Abu Jazzar and Umm Salah said that they would refuse to take monetary compensation instead of a return to their town of origin. “Our history is there in Palestine,” they said together, “in Beir al-Saba. How could we sell our history?”

The now elderly refugees have evidently passed down their profound connection to their land to their 28-year-old daughter, Laila, who said with great emotion:

“What peace are they talking about? Every day they kill us, our families have lived the suffering for 61 years now. … If there is a truce, this truce cannot last, as they aim to destroy us completely. Look at the last Israeli war on us, they killed many people. We should keep steadfast, until we return to our hometown of Beir al-Saba. We can never accept any compensation, even if we all die one after another.”

on somali pirates

i can only imagine what sort of f*&$)# up narratives are circulating the u.s. media right now about somali pirates. so i thought i would share some points of view which are refreshing and smart in their analysis of the situation. the first comes from the fabulous rapper k’naan who is from somalia but who lives in kenya. he wrote the following which was published in the san francisco bay news and which provides some much needed historical context:

The news media these days have been covering piracy on the Somali coast with such lopsided journalism that it’s lucky they’re not on a ship themselves. It’s true that the constant hijacking of vessels in the Gulf of Aden is a major threat to the vibrant trade route between Asia and Europe. It is also true that for most of the pirates operating in this vast shoreline, money is the primary objective.

But according to so many Somalis, the disruption of Europe’s darling of a trade route is just Karma biting a perpetrator in the butt. And if you don’t believe in Karma, maybe you believe in recent history. Here is why we Somalis find ourselves slightly shy of condemning our pirates.

Somalia has been without any form of a functioning government since 1991. And although its failures, like many other toddler governments in Africa, spring from the wells of post-colonial independence, bad governance and development loan sharks, the specific problem of piracy was put in motion in 1992.

After the overthrow of Siyad Barre, our charmless dictator of 20-some-odd years, two major forces of the Hawiye Clan came to power. At the time, Ali Mahdi and Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidid, the two leaders of the Hawiye rebels, were largely considered liberators. But the unity of the two men and their respective sub-clans was very short-lived. It’s as if they were dumbstruck at the advent of ousting the dictator, or that they just forgot to discuss who will be the leader of the country once they defeated their common foe.

A disagreement of who will upgrade from militia leader to Mr. President broke up their honeymoon. It’s because of this disagreement that we’ve seen one of the most decomposing wars in Somalia’s history, leading to millions displaced and hundreds of thousands dead.

But war is expensive and militias need food for their families and Jaad (an amphetamine-based stimulant) to stay awake for the fighting.

Therefore, a good clan-based warlord must look out for his own fighters. Aidid’s men turned to robbing aid trucks carrying food to the starving masses and re-selling it to continue their war. But Ali Mahdi had his sights set on a larger and more unexploited resource, namely the Indian Ocean.

Already by this time, local fishermen in the coastline of Somalia had been complaining of illegal vessels coming to Somali waters and stealing all the fish. And since there was no government to report it to, and since the severity of the violence clumsily overshadowed every other problem, the fishermen went completely unheard.

But it was around this same time that a more sinister, a more patronizing practice was being put in motion. A Swiss firm called Achair Partners and an Italian waste company called Progresso made a deal with Ali Mahdi that they were to dump containers of waste material in Somali waters. These European companies were said to be paying warlords about $3 a ton, whereas to properly dispose of waste in Europe costs about $1,000 a ton.

In 2004, after a tsunami washed ashore several leaking containers, thousand of locals in the Puntland region of Somalia started to complain of severe and previously unreported ailments, such as abdominal bleeding, skin melting off and a lot of immediate cancer-like symptoms. Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the United Nations Environmental Program, says that the containers had many different kinds of waste, including “uranium, radioactive waste, lead, cadmium, mercury and chemical waste.”

But this wasn’t just a passing evil from one or two groups taking advantage of our unprotected waters. The U.N. envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, says that the practice still continues to this day. It was months after those initial reports that local fishermen mobilized themselves, along with street militias, to go into the waters and deter the Westerners from having a free pass at completely destroying Somalia’s aquatic life.

Now, years later, the deterring has become less noble, and the ex-fishermen with their militias have begun to develop a taste for ransom at sea. This form of piracy is now a major contributor to the Somali economy, especially in the very region that private toxic waste companies first began to bury our nation’s death trap.

Now Somalia has upped the world’s pirate attacks by over 21 percent in one year, and while NATO and the EU are both sending forces to the Somali coast to try and slow down the attacks, Blackwater and all kinds of private security firms are intent on cashing in.

But while Europeans are well within their rights to protect their trade interest in the region, our pirates were the only deterrent we had from an externally imposed environmental disaster. No one can say for sure that some of the ships they are now holding for ransom were not involved in illegal activity in our waters.

The truth is, if you ask any Somali, if getting rid of the pirates only means the continuous rape of our coast by unmonitored Western vessels and the producing of a new cancerous generation, we would all fly our pirate flags high.

It is time that the world gave the Somali people some assurance that these Western illegal activities will end if our pirates are to cease their operations. We do not want the EU and NATO serving as a shield for these nuclear waste-dumping hoodlums.

It seems to me that this new modern crisis is truly a question of justice, but also a question of whose justice. As is apparent these days, one man’s pirate is another man’s coast guard.

word.

here is k’naan talking about the nuclear toxic waste on hard knock tv:

notice what he says: “i would say if you want the piracy to stop, stop dumping nuclear toxic waste in our country.”

and here is an episode of al jazeera’s “people and power” that investigates arms trafficking and that toxic waste dumped on somalia’s shores:

jeremy scahill has an excellent piece in the socialist worker today on the obama response to the recent american attack on somali pirates in which he ponders what the u.s. response will be now as well as what they will do with the somali man they are holding in custody:

There are certain to be calls from bloodthirsty lunatics to send this Somali man to Guantánamo or Bagram, with right-wingers like Newt Gingrich and Cal Thomas wrapping this into their tired “Obama is weak on terror” narrative. As Thomas wrote last week on the Fox News Web site:

What will the Obama administration do if the pirates are captured alive? He won’t sent them to Gitmo, which he is closing down. Will they get ACLU lawyers? Will there be testimony from a “pirates rights” group? Will they be released on a technicality after a trial in U.S. courts?

If there is not as forceful a response as there was during the Jefferson administration, it will invite more of these incidents. The world’s tyrants are watching to see how President Obama reacts. The message they get will determine how they respond to America and whether we will be in greater peril.

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal on Sunday called for the Somali man in custody to be “transferred to Guantánamo and held as an ‘enemy combatant,’ or whatever the Obama administration prefers to call terrorists.” On this point, Horton points out an interesting distinction between the Obama and Bush administration positions on “pirates,” particularly as it relates to the “terrorist” label.

The big legal issue is around calling them “terrorists,” which the Bushies did with regularity and Obama resisted. I think that Obama and his people are correct. These people were motivated by the desire to make money, pure and simple, which makes them conventional pirates. If they were labeled “terrorists,” the insurance company and the ship charter company wouldn’t be able to negotiate with them or make a payment. Pirates they can still pay off, which will often be the most sensible and least costly solution.

If the U.S. decides to pursue prosecution of the Somali “pirate” in custody in a U.S. court, he would hopefully have a right to a defense (which would clearly enrage the crazies) and the nature of that defense could well depend on what type of legal counsel he ends up with and how his lawyers present the motives of his actions, as described to them, in attempting to seize the Maersk Alabama.

This could be a major test of Obama’s legal interpretation of the rights of prisoners taken by the U.S. in unusual circumstances (to put it mildly). In an era when due process has been trashed in the U.S. and prisoners have been tortured at CIA “black sites” and held without trial for years at Guantánamo and elsewhere, Obama should allow exactly what Thomas and his ilk fear so much–respect for the legal rights of prisoners held by the U.S.

scahill added some bits to this on his blog–i am so elated to see he finally has a blog as his voice is so needed more than ever:

But the Obama administration has convened a special group on Somalia—even before the “pirate” crisis blew up publicly. And it isn’t just the “pirate bases” being looked at for potential military action. The Washington Post reported on Saturday:

Senior Obama administration officials are debating how to address a potential terrorist threat to U.S. interests from a Somali extremist group, with some in the military advocating strikes against its training camps. But many officials maintain that uncertainty about the intentions of the al-Shabab organization dictates a more patient, nonmilitary approach.

Al-Shabab, whose fighters have battled Ethiopian occupiers and the tenuous Somali government, poses a dilemma for the administration, according to several senior national security officials who outlined the debate only on the condition of anonymity.

All of these developments in Somalia and the Horn of Africa come amidst a growing US military presence on the continent through the US military command known as AFRICOM. In late 2006, US-backed Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia and overthrew the government in an operation that was framed in the rhetoric of the “war on terror.” The invasion resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths and more than one million Somali refugees.

it is worth noting, too, that ken quinn, one of the americans who was on the ship the other day had this to say about somali pirates:

Quinn told reporters the experience was “terrifying and exciting at the same time.” Asked what he thought of the pirates who seized the boat, Quinn said: “They’re just hungry.”

for more background on the somali pirates you can watch/listen to an interview with mohamed abshir waldo on democracy now! today. and you can read his article in which he historicizes much of this issue as well as offers some solutions:

The EU, NATO and US Navies can, of course, Rambo and obliterate the fishermen pirates and their supporting coastal communities but that would be illegal, criminal act. Yet, it may temporarily reduce the intensity of the shipping piracy but it would not result in a long-term solution of the problem. The risk of loss of life of foreign crews and ecological impact of major oil spill would be a marine catastrophe of gigantic proportions for the whole coastal regions of East Africa and the Gulf of Aden. In their current operations, the Somali fishermen pirates genuinely believe that they are protecting their fishing grounds (both 12-mile territorial and EEZ waters). They also feel that they exacting justice and compensation for the marine resources stolen and the destroyed ecosystem by the IUUs. And their thinking is shared and fully supported by the coastal communities, whose protectors and providers they became.

The matter needs careful review and better understanding of the local environment. The piracy is based on local problems and it requires a number of comprehensive joint local and external partners approaches.

Firstly, practical and lasting solution lies in jointly addressing the twin problems of the shipping piracy and the illegal fishing piracy, the root cause of the crisis.

Secondly, the national institutional crisis should be reviewed along with the piracy issues.

Thirdly, local institutions should be involved and supported, particularly by helping to form coastguards, training and coastguard facilities. These may sound asking too much to donors and UN agencies. But we should ask what it meant those who paid tens of millions dollars of ransom and their loved ones held hostage for months.

Fourthly, a joint Somali and UN agency like the present ICAO for the Somali airspace should be considered.

finally, isn’t it a bit disingenuous for americans and europeans to rail against somali pirates when there are zionist pirates in palestinian waters attacking palestinians every day? i bet this never made the u.s. media:

6th of April 2009 at 7am: Israeli Naval forces have abducted eight Palestinian fishermen (including two minors) from the Salateen area in north of the Gaza Strip. Additionally, the fishermen’s four hassakas (small fishing boats) have been taken by the Israeli Navy. According to eyewitnesses, the fishermen were only about 100 meters from the coast at the time of their abduction.

Initial information received regarding the fishermen’s details are as follows:

– Esshaq Mohammed Zayed, 45
– Rassam Mohammed Zayed, 25
– Hafez Assad Al Sultan, 25
– Ahmed Assad Al Sultan, 17
– Safwat Zayed Zayed, 35
– Nashaat Zayed Zayed, 10
– Hammada Joma Zayed, 22
– Joma Mollok Zayed, 50

During the last month the Israeli Navy has escalated its attacks against Gazan fishermen by injuring at least three of them, abducting a further 24 fishermen, and stealing 10 hassakas and one shansula fishing boat.