The unholy alliance between the Belizean governments both past and present with the occupiers of Palestinian land, the so-called State of Israel, is one of the biggest failures in Belize's foreign policy. It will surely go down as the disgraceful use of elitist power which defies our socio-historical experience, morality, and diplomacy strategies.
Most Belizeans both at home and abroad are likely not aware that before the land of the Palestinians was considered by the imperialist’s powers of Britain and the United States as a 'Homeland' for the so-called Jews of Europe, Belize was also on the top of their list.
Indeed, this was acknowledged by an Israeli Ambassador in a recent visit to Belize:
“In the beginning of the century there were a few ideas about where to build the new Jewish state. We were talking about Uganda in Africa, we were talking about Belize and other places” - Mattanya Cohen, Israel Ambassador (2009)
It was known that the region of Central America was far too hot for these Europeans. It was the mild Mediterranean climate of Palestine which became the selected location of the unjust invasion and establishment of an Israeli state. The people of Palestine were driven from their land, pushed behind the barb wires in concentration camps which are now the bombarded Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
When Belize campaigned for the international support from the United Nations (UN) to achieve self-independence, Israel was not Belize’s ally. In fact, Israel was one of the main suppliers of arms and ammunitions to Guatemala. This created a mood of war during the 1970s (see Shoman 2010, pp. 107, 137, 146).
Israel consistently abstained from voting in the resolutions that were introduced to secure Belize’s independence (see Shoman, 2010). This was done in order for Israel to remain an ally of Guatemala. The power elites of Israel would have benefited if Belize and Guatemala had entered a war because they were going to be the main suppliers of arms and ammunitions.
In the past, the George Price PUP government did recognize the legality of the state of Israel (perhaps they were compelled to do so). But when the Esquivel UDP administration came to power in 1984, Belize's became a pronounced supporter of Israel. The Esquivel UDP administration declared its Pro-United States Pro-Liberalism policy to the international community. And concern Belizeans, like members from BREDDA and the UBAD Foundation, knew that the Belizean people were heading towards greater international dependency.
Then during the Musa PUP administration in 1998, there was a slight turn away from diplomatic support of Israel. But since gaining power in 2004, the Barrow UDP administration's with its diehard Pro-West Foreign Minister, Wilfred ‘Sedi’ Elrington, has gone to great lengths to accommodate Israel within Belize's body politic. As noted by 7 News:
Israel and Belize have long had an uneasy relationship... But today [November, 16, 2009] in a surprise diplomatic move – Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington boldly cemented relations with Israel allowing a visa waiver and a technical assistance programme. We suspect that it is the kind of thing that could not have happened during the last government when Said Musa who is of Palestinian descent was the Prime Minister. But things change and Elrington today said the new pact will help Belize with knowledge.
Belize now has official diplomatic relations with one of the most loyal military ally of Guatemala. This is despite the fact that Israel refused to vote in our favor during the independence campaign. We are now showing affection to the state which provided arms and ammunitions that could have led to our dissolution as nation. As Evan X Hyde said the “This makes no sense. The friend of my enemy cannot possibly be my friend” (The Publisher, 2014).
As the bombs fall on innocent Palestinians, it becomes obvious that our previous and current governments have wedded an unholy alliance with the occupiers of Palestine. By failing to break our current diplomatic relations with Israel, we are signaling our acceptance to the actions of Israel in our struggle for independence and in the genocide that is unfolding before the eyes of the world.
We must not remain silent while Israel unleashes hell on unarmed civilians. Due to our historical experience we should be the most sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians. We could have been the ones to experience the present state of terrorism of the Palestinian people. This is a call for civil society organizations, civil servants, educators, and academics to insist that Belize breaks its diplomatic relations with Israel.
By Bilal Morris* and Rolando Cocom
*Bilal Morris is a Belizean Journalist residing in Los Angeles. He has authored many articles on Islam in the Caribbean and Central America and on Belize.
Shoman, A. (2010). Belize's independence and decolonization in Latin America: Guatemala, Britain, and the UN. Palgrave Macmillan.