‘Good fren betta dan packet money.’

  • Jamaican Proverb

‘Tell me who you walk with, and I will tell you who you are.’

  • Proverbs 13:20

We are living in interesting times. Old orders are collapsing, new orders are being formulated, and in the interim countries jostle to be in a good finishing position when the new order imposes itself.

We see this in Latin America as countries do what was once unthinkable and take massive US firms to court. We see this in Africa where former French colonies have resumed attempts to shake off the yoke of French neo-colonialism.

It is evident in Asia as countries like India begin to flex their muscles in ways that make Western countries baulk and it is open and obvious to all in the Near East as countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran put aside differences and seek to work together.

All of this is bad news for leaders and countries which have sought to firm up ties with the West, and things do not look rosy for PM Holness who finds his new friend and bosom buddy facing tough times.

Following the indescribable atrocities shown on live TV for the world to view, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has said it is seeking an arrest warrant on the leader of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, for crimes against humanity. The charges against the Israeli PM and his defence minister are just the latest black eyes and body blows the apartheid state has had to endure.

Following their predictable over-the-top response to the October 7 attacks which, however heinous, are allowed under international law as the Palestinians are occupied people, Israel has been fast haemorrhaging international support among UN member states and individuals who cannot bear witness to an ethnic cleansing and say nothing.

PM Andrew Holness and his foreign affairs ministry, however, remain behind the times. Jamaica was the second to last CARICOM country to recognise Palestine — an act they took after months of domestic pressure and embarrassment, and to this date, they have said nothing about the deliberate starvation and other illegal tactics used by Israel in this offensive.

Jamaica, under its current PM, has chosen to sully its name as a country which stands against injustice and finds itself in a camp with a nation on trial at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) facing charges of genocide. Rather than take the morally correct stance against this slaughter and seven-decade injustice, we have chosen to sup with a country which routinely imprisons children.

Jamaica finds itself in a strange and uncomfortable position. In the effort to tackle rising violent crime we have made deals with Israel, and Israeli companies. Are these companies involved in the ongoing genocide and are we comfortable utilising such methods?

As we roll out the national identification, we hear that an Israeli company is handling the back end.  Is this company involved in the illegal occupation and surveillance of Palestinians and again, are we comfortable with this?

Jamaica and our PM have options. There are steps which can be taken to salvage our reputation and save our moral standing. He could condemn the Israeli actions, impose a national boycott on the country and break ties with the apartheid state, or suspend ties, or remove recognition of the country. This would be in line with Belize, the CARICOM member which suspended ties with Israel following October 7. There is also the example of Colombia and Brazil which both suspended ties with Israel as they ramped up their slaughter in the Gaza strip and West Bank.

That he does not, that he remains silent while civilians are slaughtered like animals and maintains deals with the country imposing the greatest mass murder of our times should make us pause and ask serious questions.

The old saying “show me your friends and I will tell you who you are”, rings true. The PM’s new ally is a thug, a brute of a man who will impose his will by force. He is a man who dragged a country so far right that we now have Israeli citizens extolling what the Nazis did. What does this say of our PM, how he views the country, its future and how to achieve it.  Is he willing to go to those extremes to get power and maintain it?

For the record, I do not think the PM would do that, but the fact that we even have to ask should make us worry about where the country’s reputation is heading. With the ICC charges looming, has the PM thought through the potential scenarios?

This relationship which we chose to make closer a few years ago clearly is not worth it. These are friends who are not friends. They make themselves look bad and others look stupid by association and have the real potential to open the country up to question.

It is clear there is large support for the Palestinian cause locally. We are a country that does not naturally protest over foreign matters (or anything really, bar the odd bad road) and from November till now there have been vocal calls and street protests demanding the government act. If he fears offending the voting public he can banish the thought, it may not be a vote winner, but with even the Council of Churches condemning Israeli actions it is not a vote loser.

This is one of those times in history when countries and people must stand up and be counted. You are either on the side of the oppressor or on the side of the oppressed. It is up to the PM to ensure that Jamaica’s name is not stained. He must condemn the genocide and break ties with Israel.  Nothing else will do.

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