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Israeli presence in Colombo

By Latheef Farook

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Bound to aggravate communal tension?

By Latheef Farook

“Israel’s foreign policy is that the national interest of Israel is the ultimate test and that the Israelis pursue this with cold blooded calculation” - late eminent journalist Mervyn De Silva.

The Zionist Jewish entity of Israel which has been sneaking into Sri Lanka time and again only to have been expelled, found a firm foothold in Colombo now. The island’s growing ties with Israel have become cause for serious concern among many especially within the beleaguered Muslim community which fears that this may spell disaster for them.

This fear emanates from Israel’s long record of hostility towards Muslims and its crucial role in the United States led western global campaign against Muslims under the guise of fighting a so called war on terrorism. It becomes still worse because a small minority of nationalists who, openly call for the expulsion of Tamils and Muslims from the island, are now in influential positions while Muslims parliamentarian remain subdued and ineffective.

In the recent past ministers, top government and private sector officials, tourists and many others started visiting Israel while Israeli entrepreneurs began investing in many sectors indicating the flourishing relations facilitated by the globalisation and open economy.

Israel sought to establish closer ties with Sri Lanka as early as 1950s. Answering a question on foreign affairs late prime Minister Mr S.W.R.D.Banadaranike said in the parliament on 14 August 1958 that” on assuming office Israel continued to pressurise to send an Israeli diplomatic representative as agreed by the previous government. Well, I said,” Yes you may do so”. Then the question of appointing our representative to Israel arose and I have just laid by for further consideration.”

It was during Prime Minister W Dahanayake’s period a non resident ambassador was appointed to Israel in 1958, but he was recalled by Prime Minister Mrs Srimavo Bandaranaike. The Sri Lankan Ambassador to Rome looked after the Israeli affairs during the UNP government between 1965 and 1970.

During the 1970 general elections expelling the Israeli mission in Colombo was a pledge by the United Front which attracted sizable Muslims votes. Fulfilling her promise Mrs Srimavo Bandaranaike closed down the Israeli mission in Colombo despite threats of economic boycott .It was during her time in the mid 1970s the Palestine Liberation Organisation opened its representative office which was elevated to full embassy status in 1982. The island’s fiercely independent and dignified policy and the overall attitude towards Israel was such that in 1979, Sri Lankan Cricket Team refused to play its match against Israel in the 15 nation qualifying competition in the 2nd Prudential World Cricket Competition in England.

Then came the disastrous July 1983 anti Tamil riots when the government had to deal with the rising  Tamil militancy in the north .With both the United States and Britain refused to help, President Jayewardene turned to other countries. Israel which always thrives on others’ misery grabbed the opportunity, came forward to help, leading to the establishment of an Israeli Interest Section in the US Embassy in Colombo with David Matna, later reported belonging to Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, appointed as resident head.

Muslims opposed the move. Leading a delegation respected senior Muslim politician and Chairman of UNP Dr M.C.M. Kaleel met President Jayewardene to express Muslim concerns. But dismissing them President Jayewardene stated “well, I will go even to devil to get help. If the Muslims wanted they can remain in the government, otherwise they can leave”. Muslim parliamentarians were placed in an embarrassing and helpless situation and Foreign Minister A.C.S.Hameed had to defend   the move. This was one of the reasons why the frustrated Muslims, especially those in the east, turned to Sri Lanka Muslim Congress for a forum of their own to raise their voice, though it later ended up as a disaster. Under these growing ties Israeli President Chaim Herzog paid an official visit to Sri Lanka in 1986.

It was proved time and again that Israelis have no special feelings for Sri Lanka which they consider “as an undeveloped and uncivilised country with monkey like people who are not long out of the trees and should not expect much” as disclosed in the book “By Way of Deception; The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer” by Victor Ostrovsky and Claire Hoy.

Insulting Sri Lankans further   the author of this book stated in page 128 as follows;

“Next I was assigned to the high ranking officers who were looking for radar equipment. I was told to take them to manufacturer in Ashdod named Alta that could do the work. But when he saw their specifications, the Alta representative said,” They’re just going through the motions. They are not going to buy our radar”

“Why? I said.

“These specs were not written for these monkeys (referring to Sri Lankans) the man said.” They were written by a British radar manufacturer called Deca, so these guys already know what they’re going to buy. Give them a banana and send them home. You’re wasting your time.

“Okay, but how about a brochure or something to make them happy?”

The conversation was going on in Hebrew while we all sat together eating cookies and drinking coffee and tea. The Alta rep said he didn’t mind giving them a lecture to make it look as if they weren’t brushed off,” but if we are going to do that, let’s have some fun.”

With that he went into another office for a set of big transparencies of a large vacuum –cleaner system that is used to clean harbours after oil spills. He had a series of colourful schematic drawings. Everything was written in Hebrew, but he lectured in English on this “high capability radar equipment”. I found it difficult not to laugh. He laid it on so thick, claiming this radar could locate a guy swimming in the water and practically tell his shoe size, his name and address and his blood type. When he’d finished, the Sri Lankans thanked him said they were surprised at this technological advancement, but that it wouldn’t fit their ships. We knew about their ships. We built them.

This book came out with startling revelations of Sri Lanka’s secret relations with Israel and in view of their seriousness President Ranasinghe Premadasa appointed a presidential commission of inquiry into allegations. Among those who gave evidence was eminent journalist Mervyn de Silva. He stated as follows:

“He said that he was of the opinion that the opening of the Israeli Interest Section in Colombo was an unwise step in the face of formal protests and warnings by the leader of the Opposition and the ruling party’s Muslim members led by Dr M.C.M.Kaleel.   It was wrong to have assumed that Israel’s national interests coincided with Sri Lanka’s national interests, and more particularly with Sinhalese interests.  Mervyn de Silva went on to say that the elementary fact of Israel’s foreign policy is that the national interest of Israel is the ultimate test and that the Israelis pursue this with cold blooded calculation.

Finally President Ranasinghe Premadasa closed down the Israeli Interest Section in Colombo on 20 April 1990 and discontinued diplomatic relations with Israel.

Once again Secret talks between Israel and Sri Lanka began in 1996 when the then Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was hospitalized in New Delhi for a kidney operation. The Israeli ambassador in New Delhi, accompanied by the then Indian Ambassador in Colombo Sivashankar Menon who was earlier the Indian ambassador in Israel before coming to Sri Lanka and later Foreign secretary in India, visited Mr. Kadirgamar in the hospital. According to reports the Israeli ambassador had visited Mr. Kadirgamar frequently in the hospital and these secret contacts led to the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries in June 2000.

Thus even when there were no formal ties, there was still activity with military delegations visiting Israel and purchasing arms. These ties continue until W.M.Seneviratne from the Foreign Service was appointed as the island’s ambassador to Israel.

The often raised question is what is the guarantee that the Israelis will not use the nationalists and extremists to whip up hostility against Muslims? This is the reason why the Muslims fear the Israeli presence may harm the existing ties within the communities and further complicate the ethnic conflict. Already there were widespread speculations that Israel played a crucial role in aggravating the split between the Tamils and Muslims who lived in peace and harmony in the East.

It was under such circumstance Sri Lanka’s Foreign Secretary Dr Palitha Kohona visited Israel with a formal greeting from President Mahinda Rajapakse to Israeli President Shimon Peres, drenched in Palestinian blood especially his Qana massacre of more than one hundred innocent civilians in the United Nations compound.

During his four day visit Dr. Kohona visited ‘Yad Vashem’ the holocaust memorial. However, Dr Kohona didn’t find time to visit villages such as Deir Yassin and Kafr Qassim in the outskirts of Jerusalem where Nobel Prize winning Jewish terrorist Menachem Begin massacred Palestinians men, women, children and the aged. He even ripped open a pregnant Palestinian woman’s stomach and shot at the foetus.

Then came the first high profile visit of former Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, accompanied by a team which included his secretary Mahinda Bandusena who was the island’s former ambassador to Israel, in March 2008 where he, perhaps to please the Israelis and displaying his ignorance, accused Palestinians in Syria and Lebanon of training Tamil youths. He also said that the Tamil youths learnt the art of suicide bombing from some Palestinian groups, an accusation yet to be proved.

But what was conspicuously absent in Mr. Wickremanayake’s speech was the role played by Israel in training both Tamil youths and the Sri Lankan government forces.  In this regard once again I like to quote from the book By Way of Deception –The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer” page 67 and 68;

“The Israelis also trained elite forces, for both sides-( Tamil militants and the government forces) without either side knowing about the other and helped Sri Lanka cheat the World Bank and other investors out of millions of dollars to pay for all the arms they were buying from them”

In pages 129 and 130 the same book  stated;“ Yosy was also looking after a group being trained by the Israelis. But they weren’t supposed to meet my people. They were Tamils, bitter enemies of my Sinhalese group”The Tamils were training at the commando naval base. learning penetration techniques, mining landings, communications and how to sabotage ships similar to the Devora. There were about 28 men in each group, so it was decided that Yosy should take the Tamils to Haifa that night while I took the Sinhalese to Tel Aviv, thus avoiding any chance encounters.

The real problem started about two weeks into the courses, when both the Tamils and Sinhalese-unknown to each other, of course were training at Kfar Sirkin. It is a fairly large base, but even so, on one occasion the two groups passed within a few yards of each other while they were out jogging. After their basic training routine at Kfar Sirkin, the Sinhalese were taken to the naval base to be taught essentially how to deal with all the techniques the Israelis had just taught Tamils. It was pretty hectic. We had to dream up punishments or night training exercises just to keep them busy, so that both groups wouldn’t be in Tel Aviv at the same time. The actions of this one man (Amy) could have jeopardized the political situation in Israel if these groups had met.

According to local reports Prime Minister Wickremanayake had also stated that Sri Lanka and Israel share a lot of commonalities and both nations have been at the receiving end of terror attacks. It is difficult to understand how could there be commonalities between Sri Lanka, with a recorded history of more than 2500 years and a civilization based on religious traditions and an agricultural society which produced some of the finest tank building engineering skills, with sixty year old Israel established in the lands robbed by means of violence and terrorism from Palestinians.

Later a parliamentary delegation led by Leader of the House Nimal Sripala De Silva visited Israel. Since  then several ministers and top officials visited Israel. Certainly a great achievement for Israel.

No doubt Sri Lanka is a small country. However its dynamic foreign policy in all international forums, especially under late Prime Minister Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike, won the hearts of people all over the Middle East.  In fact the moment you say you are from Sri Lanka their faces   brighten with a smile showing their love and affection to this country.  Under such circumstances is there any need to jeopardize our age old harmonious relations with Muslim countries based on solid foundations for the sake of the cruel Jewish state?

In fact Zionist Jews do not have such generosity towards Sri Lanka.All what they do wherever they go is to carefully screen and pick up racist elements to unleash violence against Muslim and pit communities against each other in keeping with their policy of flourishing in violence.

The Israelis have entered our island like midnight thieves and started spreading their tentacles from the media to businesses and other establishments and   cultivating politicians as they always do.  It is matter of time that Sri Lanka   pays the price for the folly of allowing Israelis here. This is the reason why the island’s Muslim community has been deeply concerned about the growing Israeli presence in Sri Lanka.

To justify their fear they cite what happened to Muslims in India. According to New Delhi based fortnightly “Milli Gazette” of 1-15 December 2009, Hindu extremist organizations   get lot of money from Israel via Europe to kindle communal riots against Muslims. Indian Home Ministry disclosed that in 2008 alone RS 7877 crores were received by Hindu organizations which were used for subversive activities in the form of riots, bomb blasts and creating circumstances detrimental to Muslims. The report added that “investigation give credence to the belief that Hindu terrorists are poisoning the socio-political atmosphere in India and Israel is helping them through financial help”.

Now the question is what is the guarantee that the Israelis would not do the same thing in Sri Lanka.Can the island afford this risk especially in the context of an organized racist campaign  against the island’s Muslim community?

Courtesy: Ceylon Today

 

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