On Wednesday, November 29, the Government Senator, and Minister for industry Aubyn Hill, made a presentation at an event put on by Chabad Jamaica, marking the upcoming Hanukkah season as well, as they have put it, to remember the hostages taken by Hamas during the recent upsurge in violence because of occupation and apartheid.
The minister, in his statement, noted that he came as a minister, that is as a representative of the Government, but spoke as an individual. He condemned the violence of Hamas, stated that Israel has a right to defend itself and noted that he himself stands with Israel.
This statement seems, on the face of it, to run counter to what is official government policy of wanting an end to hostility and the need for a two-state solution. This was stated in a press release following our missed UN vote on the Palestinian issue, and by the Prime Minister and Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader Andrew Holness at the JLP conference.
From the throat of a private citizen that would be concerning, but as noted earlier, Mr Hill is a Government minister, and this poses a raft of uncomfortable questions for the Government. Westminster governments are guided by the principle of collective responsibility, a form of democratic centralism. Once a policy has been agreed on at cabinet level by the majority it is expected that those who opposed it will either now sign off on it or resign on principle.
Is what the minister stated official Government policy? Does the Government believe that Israel has a right to defend itself from a people it occupies, a stance which would flout international law and our historic stances? Is the Government okay aligning itself with an organisation which calls for (as noted in its maps) the seizure of Palestinian lands?
In any other country this action would require a response from the foreign minister, with calls coming either from the press or the Opposition, but the silence on this matter is deafening.
This, though, is not a surprise. It is no shock that Mr Hill was the one to deliver the message and it is no shock that the Government openly shills for what is a far-right apartheid state.
The Government has and continues to agree with Israel for cyber security training and technology.
In the area of cyber security, Israel has been credibly fingered for releasing the Stuxnet virus, and testing on Palestinians as part of the occupation, and refining surveillance technologies, which it sells to third parties. It operates the Pegasus spyware which has been used against civil rights activists, journalists and members of various groups which find themselves in the crosshairs of Israel or governments friendly to Israel.
In praise of a country which has called for the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population, a government minister has voiced support for those actions, this more than anything is the Government’s mask-off moment in showing the people who its stands with.
We refuse to vote in the UN and state on record what our position on the matter is, but we will send ministers in official capacities to sup with the Israeli Honourary Consul and a Vice Consul of the US Embassy and that tells us all we need to know.
The policy towards Palestine is the same one we have towards Haiti — a deference to imperial power, a slavish willingness to act as running dogs and cover for what amounts to heinous actions. The flowery words they use of a need to restore democracy in Haiti, or of the Abrahamic origins of the religions of the people of the Middle East hide the fact that our leaders endorse the stomping out of any movement which seeks independence and to break away from their rule.
The same attitude which they display in foreign policy is displayed at home. It is, for example, displayed in their war against what remains of organised labour within the public sector. The denigration and near dehumanisation of the public sector workers during the wage reform process while using the language of doing it for the benefit of the nation is cut from the same cloth.
It is displayed in the militarisation of the police for crime fighting at the expense of social interventions and community rehabilitation schemes. The method of mass incarceration without charge, the death of suspects under mysterious circumstances point to tactics used by governments of the far right which our Government has flirted with.
The refusal to invest in social workers, invest in the slums so they become habitable, create affordable housing and the wholesale removal of people from land they have lived on for decades under various administrations again is reminiscent of the governments like Israel which our Government have made bedfellows.
As the Government lobbies for a third term, its cosying up to imperialists will come back to haunt it and comments such as those by Minister Hill only make people question what else they like in these governments they have chosen to align with. The open and brazen support for ethnic cleansing while driving people off land at home is not forgotten. The cries of the need to pacify the situation in Haiti while security in Jamaica continues to deteriorate are being indexed by the people.
With the prime minister seemingly calling for a social engineering project, we should all be worried about what he has in store especially if these are the policies of his Government and his ministers. We can assume he will look to Israel and others for guidance on how to manage us; he will look at the US and UK policies on crime fighting and will use those as the template for how to deal with us.
Our link with Palestine and the need to oppose the slaughter and occupation they experience goes beyond doing it because it is the humane thing to do. Our actions have a direct impact on what goes on there, and what goes on there has a direct impact on us over here.
The Government has a serious case to answer, and good-thinking people must act or be tarred with the same brush. An occupying people have no right to self-defence, an occupied people have all the right to use the force of arms to liberate themselves. Poverty and crime can only be alleviated by levelling society and not by militarising police forces and sectioning off people in gated communities. We either remain silent and watch Jamaica become a mini-Israel, at war with the majority, or we take a stand and create a country of which we are proud.