I remember ruffling some feathers a few years ago, when I publicly defended the Maldivian government’s decision to resume diplomatic relations with the state of Israel.
My reasoning back then was basically this:
- Israel had done no harm to the Maldives or Dhivehin
- Maldives, as a sovereign, independent state, needed to maintain an independent foreign policy based on its own interests
- Maldives already maintains diplomatic ties with unsavoury countries such as Saudi Arabia, Myanmar and Pakistan. So why not Israel?
Surely, if we can (and do-) have excellent diplomatic relations with the USA – the country that funds, arms and protects Israel – then why can’t we deal with Israel on so called moral grounds?
In 2009, I wrote: “If maintaining diplomatic relations with countries that engage in war means having blood on our own hands – then all Maldivians must be held equally culpable for Iraq and Abu Ghraib and Gitmo”
A lot of blood has flowed since then, and I want to revisit the subject.
Four years ago, I felt it was double standards that we should continue to ostracize Israel – while simultaneously embracing the Saudi-Wahhabi regime which has single-handedly set Muslim civilization back a few hundred years. After all, the Israelis have never attacked or harmed the Maldives, but the Saudi funded war on all Muslim communities continues to destroy and uproot our society.
While my reading of the ground facts hasn’t changed much since then, I find it increasingly impossible to defend ties with the Israeli government.
Apartheid has no place in 2014. Concentration camps have no place in 2014. Collective punishments against an entire population have no place in this time and age. The situation in Palestine is an unsustainable aberration kept alive by the continued support of the United States government. Strangely enough, after going through several leaked cables and interviews, I get the feeling that Israel isn’t the favourite child of many Senior US govt officials either – didn’t John Kerry himself use the word ‘apartheid’? – but American domestic politics doesn’t allow this situation to change.
There are few sights more disturbing than seeing the American President – ostensibly the most powerful man on the planet – grovel before Israel’s apartheid regime. I understand it is political suicide in America to come across as being anti-Israel, just like it is in the Maldives to be pro-Israel.
There are also few sights sadder than seeing Jews, the victims of the dreadful holocaust, in turn put millions of Arabs into what is essentially a large concentration camp. This situation cannot be tolerated.
Let this not detract from the many, many liberal Jewish voices both within and outside Israel who sympathize with the just cause of Palestinians. The oppression of the Israeli State is often condemned by Israeli writers in columns in Israeli newspapers like Ha’aretz. Prof Noam Chomsky mentions some voices too in his piece. I would like to add my voice to theirs – and join the BDS campaign against the apartheid state in Israel.
— Issam Sammour (@IssamSammour) July 12, 2014
Boycott. Divest. Sanctions. There has to be a better world where Jews and Arabs can live side by side with equal rights, mutual respect and full dignity. Read more about how you can help, here:
— Dara de Brún (@DaraDeBrun) July 10, 2014
Note: This necessarily means that I also no longer support diplomatic ties with Israel until such time as the apartheid regime is dismantled.
My only hope, no matter how slim, is that in the course of campaigning for rights of oppressed peoples abroad – Maldivians will also eventually come to appreciate how important it is to treat others with dignity here at home. Surely, we do not want to be an apartheid state in how we treat non-Muslims and other minorities at home?