By abstaining from the recent United Nations vote to confer UN “non-member observer status” upon Palestine, the government of Barbados brought great shame to all of the people of Barbados!
It literally boggles the mind that the political leaders of a nation and people that historically suffered a fate so similar to that of the Palestinian people could not find it within themselves to demonstrate a practical empathy with the Palestinians by joining with the vast majority of the international community and voting in favour of allowing Palestine to get a foot through the UN door!
A multitude of 138 nations voted in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution to elevate Palestine to “observer status”, while a mere nine nations, led by the United States and Israel, voted against. But for some strange reason, the government of Barbados found it necessary to break ranks with CARICOM nations such as Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad, & Tobago, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Kitts and St. Vincent, who all voted for the resolution, by taking the unprincipled and seemingly cowardly route of abstention.
The Peoples Empowerment Party would like to remind Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Maxine McClean, and indeed all the members of the Cabinet of Barbados, that they are the descendants of a black African people who, over a period of 300 years, suffered the most horrendous forms of racist oppression and colonial imposition.
We would also like to point out to them that if we scour the entire world today, we would be hard pressed to find a nation and people whose current condition so closely approximates the racist colonial condition of our own Barbadian ancestors, as the nation and people of Palestine.
Simply put, the Palestinians have been the hapless victims of two of the most powerful, oppressive and violent forces of the modern world – Zionism (or Jewish Fascism) and European imperialism. (And we hasten to add that there is a distinction – a big distinction – between the political movement of Zionism and the great and humane†religion of the Jews known as Judaism.)
Over the past 100 years, the Zionist Jews of Europe and North America, acting in cahoots with the political and economic elites of Britain and the United States, have imposed the most horrific type of genocidal settler colonialism upon the Muslim and Christian Arabic people of Palestine.
One hundred years ago, the land of Palestine belonged to approximately 700,000 Muslim and Christian Arabs who had lived there for hundreds of years in relative peace with a few thousand adherents of the religion of Judaism. But unfortunately for these peaceful inhabitants of Palestine, hundreds of miles away in Europe, members of the European Jewish middle and elite classes were in the process of establishing a Jewish nationalist movement dedicated to the construction of a materially powerful, exclusively Jewish, nation-state. This movement was labelled “Zionism”, and ultimately set its eyes upon the land of Palestine as the desired location for its Jewish state.
As a result, over the past 100 years every conceivable technique of colonialist imposition and domination has been used against the Palestinian Arabs, ranging from the utilisation of international Jewish capital to purchase land and disposes its Arabic occupiers; the imposition of economic and politically discriminatory measures; the use of organised campaigns of murder, rape and physical destruction to terrorise and intimidate; and outright warfare and physical annexation of so-called “conquered land”.
The Zionists, with the complicity of the British and Americans, acquired their Jewish state, Israel, in 1948. Ever since then, there have been five major wars fought – all of them with the ultimate aim of further expelling the Palestinian Arabs and expanding the Zionist state.
Literally hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their land and homes and forced to seek refuge in deplorable refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank.
In recent years, the Israeli punishment of the Palestinian populations of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank has been so extreme that it has evoked the sympathy of right-thinking people all over the world. Hence the overwhelming UN vote to confer some measure of dignity and international juridical status on the Palestinian people and their nation.
If the government of Barbados found it impossible to muster the courage to do something as simple and principled as joining with the vast majority of mankind to make a gesture of solidarity and goodwill towards the long suffering Palestinian people, how are they going to be able to undertake the truly difficult international task of extricating Barbados and the Caribbean from the tentacles of neo-colonialism and building a truly independent and sovereign Caribbean nation and civilisation?
* David Comissiong is president of the Peoples Empowerment Party. email: [email protected]