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At the bottom of a British foreign office press release reporting that Britain is granting the Britain-Israel Research and Academic Exchange £29,000 it adds a sweet little message that Foreign Office Minister Ivan Lewis:

… welcomed Israel’s response to the Goldstone report and urged Israel to initiate an independent investigation into the allegations of abuses during the Gaza conflict.

Lewis is applauding Israel for burying a report that painstakingly details Israeli war crimes during its Gaza onslaught. The British government is formally congratulating Israel for avoiding accountability for the death of one thousand one hundred civilians. Bravo Lewis! Hurrah for Britain! Or is that Israel? And how can anybody in their right mind state that Israel itself should set up an “independent” inquiry.

Lewis has said previously when asked in parliament if the UK would be voting for the Goldstone report:

The UN General Assembly in New York considered the Goldstone report on 5 November 2009 where we made our position clear: some aspects of the report were flawed-particularly its failure to acknowledge fully Israel’s right to protect its citizens, and the inadequate attention paid to Hamas’ actions. We eventually decided to abstain on the resolution, with France and 42 others, because voting for the resolution would have meant endorsing the report and ignoring its flaws. However, the issues raised by the report were very serious, and they should be credibly and independently investigated.

On what basis Lewis makes these statements is completely unclear. To add some context according to B’Tselem 1,385 Palestinians were killed, 762 of whom did not take part in the hostilities. Nine Israeli’s were killed by Palestinian fire. The Goldestone report clearly condemned Hamas for firing rockets against Israel. As Tony Judt puts it:

To be sure, the Goldstone Report also itemizes the crimes of Hamas, notably in its campaign of rocket-firing into Israel. But the scale of human rights abuses by Israel vastly outdoes anything Hamas could hope to have achieved: Israeli civilian victims of Hamas rocket attacks numbered less than ten. The attack on Gaza by the IDF resulted in at least 1,100 Palestinian civilian deaths. The major perpetrator of human rights abuses in this conflict is without question the State of Israel, and Justice Goldstone records as much.

So why Lewis is Britain supporting an “independent inquiry”? How exactly is the Goldstone report not independent? How does the report not “acknowledge fully Israel’s right to protect its citizens” despite the fact it was written by a self confessed zionist and condemned Hamas for firing rockets into Israel? Is the ability to kill 1,100 civilians with no accountability the right to protect your citizens.

Back to Judt:

In the first place he [Goldstone] is not only Jewish but has close family links to Israel and the Zionist ideal. Secondly, Richard Goldstone has an impeccable resumé as a critic of racism, prejudice and repression — most notably as an active opponent for many years of the apartheid regime in his native South Africa. During the ’90s he served as Chief Prosecutor at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunals dealing with human rights abuses, crimes and genocide in the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. It would be hard to fictionalize a more convincing biography for an engaged and ethically uncompromising jurist in the great tradition of Jewish political activism. Goldstone’s standing in the world will only rise as a consequence of Israel’s short-sighted attempts to discredit the man, the report and the facts. That our own government has chosen to join in this unworthy exercise should be a source of deep embarrassment and shame.

Whose interests are you serving Lewis/Brown? This goes to the heart of what is wrong with the foreign policy of Britain in the Middle East. I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed of this labour government. Spineless directionless cowards does not even come close to describing them.

Again we see a foreign policy that blindly follows and purses short-term Israeli security interests above all else. Marc Lynch describes what could happen if a more intelligent policy was approached towards the report. The legacy of Blair continues of which more will come later…

All this comes as the Goldstone report is fully buried as any sense of justice and human rights is completely eradicated as Ban Ki Bloody Useless actually applauds Israel for the probing of its actions in Gaza. Putting to sleep his own report.

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(Thanks soadhead.com for the image)The hope of change in Obama’s foreign policy has rather spectacularly collapsed. In Cairo Obama appeared to articulate a radical shift in the nature of politics in the Middle East:

“I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition.”

But on the anniversary of his first year as President a whole spate of articles appeared on how Obama has carried on the foreign policies of the Bush era. He has been labled by some as George W. Obama.This has been regrettably true. On Palestine Obama promised change:

And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.

On Iran Obama promised change:

Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward.  The question now is not what Iran is against, but rather what future it wants to build.

This is to name but two. And these two statements did not live up to what his administration has delivered.

Well respected commentators have called on his Middle East Advisor to resign due the complete lack of purpose and clarity on the Middle East peace process. The recent announcement that the US will deploy a missile shield in the Gulf shows the continued belligerent policies towards Iran.

Foreign Policy often involves a lot of movement but, much like a fountain seen from a distance, remains remarkably constant. Why is this? How is it that Obama a man so remarkably different from Bush has been unable to change the foreign policy of the US? Is it simply the nature of power? Obama cannot really move in this region in the right direction without radically altering the whole region. Is this too much to bear?

But did we not expect too much? Yes, Obama did fed that beast of expectation to delirious levels. Would it have been different if  he focused solely on a couple of particular issues instead of trying to establish a global agenda? Is that the problem with our globalised age. That the greatest idol of the modern age had to give all things to all people at all times and ended not knowing where or how to start? Creating a vacuous nothingness.

Obama is not Bush but he is not a political radical either. He is a leader that is part of the same system as Bush, a system that has a foreign policy that cannot be changed by the President alone and not without great political ramifications at home. He still remains a hope for the potential for change in the region but we know now not change itself. For change itself you have to alter the source to stop the continuous flow.