I have long spoken of Jamaica’s broken foreign policy, the farcical and duplicitous stances we have taken in the recent past. I sound the alarm for many reasons, first because this country has a long track record of progressive positions on weighty international issues, something which I on the left am proud of, but also because an independent foreign policy is a prerequisite for an independent domestic policy.

The two go hand in hand, this is a widely accepted fact and is the reason why colonies or conquered countries do not have independent foreign policies even if they have independent domestic policies.

For quite some time Jamaica has been abandoning its non-aligned position and has chosen to cosy up to the United States. Relations with the US are not new.  They are our closest major partner, many Jamaicans live there and many have been indoctrinated by the culture so it is expected that we would have relations.

What we are seeing though is beyond simple relations and has seen the country take stances which have left many scratching their heads.

Primarily these issues have revolved around China. The non-sale of the port, the removal of Chinese companies in telecoms etc. have all shown where Jamaica has put the relationship with the US above the interest – in this case economic – of the Jamaican people.

In recent times however, the shifting of stances, and the lack of independent foreign policy, has concerned Israel. This lack of independence can be seen in the Jamaican government’s refusal or unwillingness to condemn the genocide taking place in Gaza.

Following the Hamas attacks on the 7th of October the Prime Minister released a message in solidarity of Israel which could have been copied from the US state department. This came a few years after the current Israeli Prime Minister and Jamaican Prime Minister visited each other to sign deals covering cyber security, agriculture, and water infrastructure.

As Israeli atrocities became more evident, a sitting cabinet minister attended an event in solidarity with Israeli action, introduced himself as a minister and proceeded to praise and defend Israeli actions. This ran counter to Jamaica’s position; the minister remains in post despite the government lying saying he was speaking in a personal capacity and that we respect a two-state solution.

Jamaica has also refused to sign off on the South African case against Israel and prior to that managed to not even be present in a UN vote on the Israeli onslaught on Gaza – again lying that there was a clashing CARICOM meeting even though Caricom members who were in that meeting voted.

On Thursday the 21st of March things went from bad to worse. The South African Foreign Minister was visiting Jamaica on her way to the US to drum up solidarity for the case against Israel and to lobby US congress against enacting harmful legislation against South Africa as a result of the case they filed.

On this visit, the Jamaican Foreign Minister and South African Foreign Minister visited the UWI Regional HQ for a seminar on CARICOM African linkages and of course the Palestine issue. When a Palestinian-Jamaican rose and asked a question of both FMs, the Jamaican Foreign Minister chose that time to leave, abandoning her visiting Foreign Minister.

No media house was present, it was left to citizens to,  as Jamaicans say, loud up the minister, to the point that she responded as seen in the caption below because I do not even want to paraphrase what was said

This is a garbage response from a really smart person. This response is at best the omission of key facts and at worst a flat out lie. A question was directed to both Foreign Ministers, the Jamaican Foreign Minister refused to answer and left. She was told about the question by the moderator, something which a 6-minute video confirms, and she left still.

She arrived at the event late, thus causing it to start late, so it is a bit rich of her to now cry that other matters were a calling. More to the point though, if her allotted time was expired as she states, why abandon the visiting dignitary, why not then maintain the end of the session and move everyone out?

Her position stinks of cowardice, it smells of the UN debacle and it makes no sense unless we accept that the government is either incompetent – in this case cannot get time management down for a visiting dignitary – or is in fact okay with Israel, its actions in Gaza and its stated goals to expand across the Levant. For the record, I do not for a minute doubt the capacity of the current FM or her team, I disagree with her but do not doubt her competency.

It is one thing to have a shameful position.  We can disagree, dislike each other even hate each other, but honesty breeds respect, something Robert Mugabe noted when he said why he preferred to deal with Tory governments rather than Labour ones.

It seems to me the government has taken a position, an odious one that it is too embarrassed to state publicly so they lie and dance around the issue. I cannot stress enough that the Foreign Minister not only dissed the citizen she is here to represent, but she also dissed the South African Foreign Minister. South Africa, the country which we claim to hold in such high regard and love and fought against apartheid for.

We have shamed her because the government cannot take the heat for a position it won’t even publicly state, and if that doesn’t make you embarrassed, if the silence in the face of genocide doesn’t make you want to weep, then you are inhuman.

If the Honourable Minister and her government wish to end the accusation of turning a blind eye to genocide there is a simple resolution to this, four simple steps her government can take to end what she would label as false accusations. These are:

  1. Disclose state deals with Israel
  2. Provide an official condemnation of Israel
  3. Break ties with Israel
  4. Recognise of the state of Palestine

While it would be too much to expect them to follow through on all four, 3 of these are manageable, 2 of them would be easy. It would cost us nothing to condemn Israeli actions, we now have after all the cover of the US, UK, and EU powers since we are too cowardly to back our global south partners. It would be morally and politically consistent to recognize the state of Palestine. We speak of a 2-state solution and for both parties to negotiate, this cannot be done if we as part of the international community do not recognize Palestine.

Those 2 steps alone would kneecap any person or group who states the government is choosing to be silent about an ongoing war crime. That they do not take these steps which are more than doable and would see us with allies in the camp should tell us everything. When the dust settles, people are taken to court and found guilty – I understand petitions have already been made for members of the Israeli cabinet and some are mulling bringing in European and North American leaders – what will those who have sought to make a partisan issue of this have to say?

This is an issue bigger than JLPNP and the fact that some in the Labour party – not all by any means but those with power –, and ‘independent’ thinkers chose to make this a partisan issue, running cover for what is essentially a coward, is both sad and disgusting. However, when the dust settles as it must and does in all cases of colonisation, they will not be able to hide, hem and haw, and heap false praise as some did with Mandela.

Names are being taken, people will be judged, condemned, harangued, and berated, as they should be. Genocide is bigger than petty partisan politics, those in this country who play games with it because they love green, or orange need to look in themselves and hang their heads in shame.

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