The first publicized act emanating from Guyana’s joining of the UN Security Council is a condemnation of the Houthi’s attacks on shipping on the Red Sea. If such a condemnation is justified, what about Israel’s genocide in Gaza, about which Guyana has been deafeningly silent, except being a part of Caricom’s weak call for a ceasefire and the President condemning the killing of children, without naming anyone.

Guyana has had a long, admirable and courageous fight against British colonialism and then American imperialism. The post-1992 PPP and its governments, succeeding to office as a beneficiary of the end of the Cold War, saw it fit, and in its best interests, as Cheddi Jagan made peace with the United States, not to pursue a foreign policy that is antagonistic to US foreign policy interests. Anchoring Guyana in Caricom’s broader international perspectives makes sense and helps to protect Guyana in an unsafe environment, particularly with Venezuela serious aggression against Guyana. But Belize and Jamaica, Caricom members, demonstrated divergent positions. So can Guyana.

Israel has not only destroyed Gaza and killed one percent of its population, standing now at 22,000, mostly women and children, intent on clearing Gaza of Palestinians. This does not appear enough for Israel. With the presence of American warships in the area, which may not happen again anytime soon, what better opportunity to provoke a region-wide war to finally get the opportunity, with American protection and support, to strike a blow against Iran. Hence its assassination of Saleh al Arouri, a top Hamas leader and several high Hamas officials in Beirut, ignoring negotiations for the release of hostages, and hoping to provoke Hezbollah and Iran into war. Thankfully, Hezbollah and Iran are aware of Israel’s nefarious designs and are not taking the bait, as the Palestinian resistance holds its own. Yes, Palestinian resistance. The West’s terrorists, like the African National Congress and its leader, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, are the liberation fighters of others. Even so, the killing of non-combatants, including women and children, by Hamas and by Israel, cannot be condoned. Wrong though it is, Hamas didn’t start it. Israel occupied Palestine in 1967 and has slaughtered thousands of Palestinian men, women and children repeatedly since that time and has thousands in jail, including children, many without trial. 

The frightening promotion of Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians by Western media houses, begins by inviting the condemnation of Hamas’s killing of civilians in Israel on October 7. That places the interviewee on the back foot. It then proceeds to seek an admission that Israel has a right to defend itself. The interviewee is then forced to make a backward step. By the time the exchanges comprising this initial salvo is over, Israel’s brutal occupation and colonization of Palestinian lands since 1967 as the original cause of the conflict is all but minimized into an insignificant footnote.

Israel’s destruction of Gaza and murder of 22,000 Gazans, which it continues with impunity, ignoring the US pleas to reduce the killing, even as the US joins in promoting Israel’s objectives in seeking to persuade Egypt and Jordan to accept Palestinian refugees, and even as it supplies the arms without Congressional approval to kill even more Palestinians, continues unabated. In the midst of the US’s airtight support, its Secretary of State continues to create the impression of evenhandedness by talking to neighbouring Arab countries. But Israel’s murderous rampage appears to have no end as it predicts the continuation of its war for “years.”

The PPP and its governments need friends, as all countries do. In Guyana’s case, it is even more important because of Venezuelan threats, the need to protect our petroleum resources in the Atlantic Ocean and our electoral integrity. In particular, Guyana needs the support of the US and other Western countries. But Guyana is not afraid to thumb its nose at the US. Last year the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken and the US Vice President publicly indicated to President Ali and Vice President Jagdeo and other senior government officials that they support “inclusive governance.” The private messages must have been far more frank and direct. Yet the Guyana Government, to all appearances, has ignored the messages of the US government. There have been no consequences. Disagreement with the US does not mean that it will allow Venezuela to take over the Essequibo or that it will close its eyes in future to any attempt to rig elections. The US is fully aware that the PPP is a full-fledged ‘friend.’

I have absolutely no doubt that President Ali and his government are appalled at the killing of Palestinians by Israel, its half a century brutal occupation of Palestine, the creation of a concentration camp in Gaza, and the illegal building of settlements in the West Bank. The PPP of the past, which had relations with and extended regular solidarity with the PLO and Palestinians, can easily dig into its reservoir of goodwill and support for the oppressed by extending a hand of renewed friendship with the Palestinians and condemning their tormentor. If we can condemn the Houthis from the seat of the UN, whose attacks have killed no one, why can’t we condemn the Israelis from the less prominent seat of Government?

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