16 April, 2024

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RW-Israel Honeymoon & Political Matchmaking

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

Although historians could trace the origins of Jewish contact with Arabic Serendib to 9th century or even earlier and could identify Galle as the Biblical Tarshish, the 1911 Colonial census registered only 8 Jews in Ceylon. Yet, when Israel came into existence in 1948, Ceylon’s Prime Minister DS Senanayake was among the earliest to recognize that state. And it was during his time that Israel helped to lay tube wells to provide drinking water to people in the dry north of the country. Diplomatic relations continued until 1970 when the leftist coalition government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike cut off all connections with Israel and increased its relations with the Arab world and PLO by championing the cause of non-alignment. The 1986 NAM Conference in Colombo that saw the arrival of a galaxy of Arab and Muslim leaders was the hallmark of her government. After her defeat 1977, her successor JR Jayewardena made himself the Executive President and to meet the challenges from armed Tamil groups, he re-established Israeli connection and an Israeli Mission was opened in Colombo in 1984. When Muslims protested against his move, JR went to the extent of asking his Muslim ministers to quit if they did not approve his decision. The ministers meekly consented and remained in the cabinet. In 1992 under the Presidency of Premadasa once again relations were suspended. But it was after 2000 when the civil war was reaching a critical point that Israel’s expertise and advice in tackling terrorism was eagerly sought out by governments in Colombo. The 2014 visit to Israel by Mahinda Rajapaksa cemented that relationship, and with RW’s new initiatives it will not be far away for Israel to open an Embassy in Colombo in place of its Consulate.

In factualizing Israel’s relations with Sri Lanka, Antony Loewenstein, a Jewish critic of Israel’s foreign policy, has the following to say in his The Palestine Laboratory (Scribe Publications, Australia, 2023, pp.52-53). “One of the most successful tough bloody counterinsurgency battles of the early twenty-first century was the Sri Lankan government’s destruction of the Tamil Tigers militant group. Israel played a key, though largely unpublicized, part on Colombo’s successful campaign in a civil war that killed and disappeared more than 200,000 people, mostly Tamils, over a quarter-century that ended in 2009. Israel sold Kfir fighter jets and trained the Special Task Force, a brutal unit of the Sri Lankan police. Sri Lanka borrowed the Israeli playbook during the Last stages of the civil war and ignored calls by NGOs, human rights organizations, and foreign governments to cease violence. The military stopped when the Tamil Tigers were completely decimated and Veluppillai Prabakaran, its leader, killed.

Israel also helped generations of Sinhalese politicians build and maintain Sinhalese enclaves in the north and east of Sri Lanka, areas where most Tamils live. The aim was to create buffer zones around Tamil-majority areas and establish an unofficial occupation of Tamil territory. These plans continued after 2009 and Sinhala colonization has never stopped. These ideas were directly taken from Israel’s presence in the West Bank, where Palestinian sovereignty is denied with numerous fortified Jewish colonies. Israel signed a $50 million deal with Sri Lanka in 2021 to upgrade the country’s Kfir jets.”      

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s meeting with Israel’s Minister of Transport and Road Safety, Brig. Gen. Miri Regev, which ended in an agreement between the two countries for a direct airline service between Tel Aviv and Colombo, opens another chapter in the chequered history of Sri Lanka-Israel relations. The fact that this visit comes after RW’s daring entry into the Middle East turmoil by dispatching a naval vessel to the Red Sea as part of “Operation Prosperity Guardian”, a US-led multinational initiative, to combat Houthis attacks on commercial ships, particularly those carrying cargo to Israel, was his signal to Israel that Sri Lanka wishes to be a trustworthy friend of Israel. While championing the cause of Palestine in Kampala, RW’s office continued to reiterated the hackneyed two-state solution to Palestine with security guarantee to Israel. Behind this double face RW’s real agenda for honeymooning with Israel has an economic as well as a political side.

Economically, RW would honeymoon even with the devil if it could bring some foreign exchange to the country’s bankrupt treasury. With the ongoing discrimination against Arabs living in Israel and by closing the gate to Arab workers from Palestine since the outbreak of the war, unemployment in Israel has worsened, and as a result there is a strong demand for agricultural workers, bricklayers, masons and painters in the construction industry in addition to home carers. To Sri Lanka, which relies heavily on remittances from expatriate Sri Lankans and revenue from tourism Israeli demand for workers comes as a bonanza. According one source, Israel seems to promise employment for nearly 100,000 Sri Lankans. With direct flight between Tel Aviv and Colombo Israeli tourists are also expected to visit Sri Lanka in large numbers. Above all Israeli friendship would also help smoothening any difficulty arising in the forthcoming debt restructuring negotiations, because quite a number of private creditors have Jewish connection.

On the political side, Israel along with India and US could engage in match making initiatives to keep Sri Lanka’s current socio-economic and political system continue without disturbance under IMF economic supervision.  In that match making the CIA, RAW and Mossad could work as a trio in coordinating their moves to get a president and prime minister elected at the forthcoming elections to suit their interests. To US, India and the West (which includes Israel) and not to mention IMF, RW seems to be the man for the season to head the realm.  It is in this context Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s visit to India and his meetings with US Ambassador Julie Chung in 2022 and 2023 gain added significance.  There is no doubt of a groundswell of popular support to AKD and his political party NPP, because of their commitment to system change. But whether that swell is sufficient enough for the two to cross the line without coalescing with any other party is still a question mark. There is also a talk going round in Colombo that AKD’s visit to Delhi was sponsored by RW. Stitching these loose ends together is it not a valid question to raise whether the three foreign powers US, India and Israel are engaging in some sort of a political match making in Sri Lanka?   

*Dr. Ameer Ali, Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, W. Australia

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Latest comments

  • 7
    1

    In the global-stage ……. no one cares for Ranil, as much as he thinks.

    It’s all just for local consumption ……. to give a false image of his global importance, mostly to the urban jackasses. ….. The rural folks have never voted for him …… they are the wise, who have always seen through his charade ……. and simple-minded tricks …….

  • 8
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    On and off there are critics on CT who ask how the Tamils feel that they have been marginalised?
    Here is an excerpt from the article:
    Sinhalese politicians maintain Sinhalese enclaves in the north and east of Sri Lanka. The aim was to create buffer zones around Tamil-majority areas and effect an unofficial occupation of their territory.

    • 5
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      RANIL SHOWS A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH Israel-‘Love’ to get employment for Sri Lankans and ‘Hate’ to show his apparent love for the Muslims to get votes. Sri Lankan laborers may be used as mercenaries to fight against Palestinians and commit genocide.

  • 3
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    Looks like PEOPLE’s wish for AKD becoming the President & system change is NOT going to happen with CIA Mossad & RAW lurking around

  • 3
    4

    “There is also a talk going round in Colombo that AKD’s visit to Delhi was sponsored by RW.”
    .
    While it is good to keep an ear on all the gossip circuits in Colombo, one must be a little prudent than Dr. Ali when it comes to giving any serious consideration to them.
    .
    It was not long ago that there was another rumour, that another author penned a piece to Colombo Telegraph, that claimed Julie Chung was instrumental in organising a Dinner that was hosted by G.L. Peiris to which members of SLPP, SJB and UNP attended, including their leaders. It was queried whether the US is attempting to form an alliance between all these parties perhaps in retaliation to the growing popularity of AKD and NPP.
    .
    While there may be attempts at all kinds of match making going on both locally and internationally, I am sure some of these rumours are created and spread by those who want to discredit AKD and NPP with the intention of damaging their reputation.
    .
    One must tread carefully when one traverses the murky waters of politics and geopolitics. Not everyone is friendly or decent as they may appear to be.

  • 0
    5

    Dr. A.A, Why can’t Ranil’s relationship with Israel change his stand on honeymoon or politics to something more truly realistic in that his father’s brother was a bishop in the anglican church. Who knows whether he saw some biblical truth when dealing with Israel through whom God sent his son Jesus to live for a period of time on this earth to fulfil the Father’s divine purpose. Readers need to watch his next move with Israel as this nation needs to know the divine blessing due to the righteous remnant. Jesus will return to Jerusalem.

    • 7
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      If Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinghe (then Chairman of the Civil Rights Movement) were alive today, davidthe good, I’m pretty sure he would be “fighting” for the Palestinians.

      He christened me, prepared me for confirmation, understood when I stopped believing;
      and his early death — from a heart attack brought on by shock and anguish and distress due to July ’83 — was a tragic loss for many of us, as well as for this country.

      • 0
        4

        Manel Fonseka, So glad to hear you were under Bishop Lakshman just like my 2 sisters at Pera were. So sad you stopped believing like Ranil and very much love to hear why you stopped. He died from a heart attack, but I am not ready to say the cause was July ’83, as there are many other causes for it. The complex Palestinian naming of land about 2000 years ago after the death of Jesus and the naming of Israel as land given to Jacob in the very first book of the bible about 4000 years ago in Genesis 32,28 where God said ” Your name is no longer Jacob but Israel as you have struggled with God and man and prevailed”, needs issue clarification of what we believe is the truth. Now we need absence of war and death in that land.

  • 7
    1

    “There is also a talk going round in Colombo that AKD’s visit to Delhi was sponsored by RW. Stitching these loose ends together is it not a valid question to raise whether the three foreign powers US, India and Israel are engaging in some sort of a political match making in Sri Lanka? ” says Dr. Ali.
    I pity the naive souls who all this time believed in the pristine sincerity of AKD and how he was “different ” from other politicians. A politicians prime purpose is to get into power, and stay there.

  • 8
    1

    In calibration of her foreign policy for optimal benefit Sri Lanka should closely monitor the relationship between Muslim countries and the West, in particular USA. If maintaining multi trillion dollar trade exchanges and arms purchases from the West, sending their children for education to the West is ok for them our attempt to scrape a few dollars cannot be sacrificed at the altar of high moral ground to please a few hypocritic Muslim writers. (Mr Ameer with his family is working and living in Australia)
    Observe how the present Indian Minister of External affairs Jaisankar is navigating in rough waters if you want to learn a thing or two about tackling big powers.
    .
    Soma

  • 8
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    “AKD’s visit to Delhi was sponsored by RW.”
    What made Dr. Ameer Ali to go against JVP/NPP now after AKD’s visit to India?
    Until now, he was capaigning for NPP/AKD ignoring the relationship between Israel and Sri Lanka. Does Sri Lanka need this kind of Professionalism?

    • 2
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      Ajith,
      “AKD’s visit to Delhi was sponsored by RW.”
      I think there is a typo there. It should be RAW, not RW.

  • 5
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    The NPP I believe, is a party with strong principles. Although it is also a political party, the NPP should have the strength to chart an independent course free of alignment with any external entity. It must also ensure that its principles of justice be applied to its relationships with the external world. If an apartheid state calculatedly engages in ethnic cleansing, commits genocide against all international laws and in defiance of any international court, and illegally settles people while killing and torturing the original inhabitants of a land, then the NPP must not enter into any diplomatic relationship with such a pariah state, even if that state promises to employ a 100,000 slaves from Sri Lanka or come in droves as tourists. The curse of injustice in the Global South is that global terrorists like the US and Israel can buy poor countries, simply because they are poor and desperate. The NPP must ensure that Sri Lanka once again becomes a true paradise with justice, equality and fairness in all its institutions, and a place that people would love to call their motherland and home.

    • 2
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      “The NPP I believe, is a party with strong principles.”
      For its principles to seem credible, it should be specific on key issues, even controversial ones.
      I has been challenged from within as well, but little is forthcoming.

  • 0
    0

    Dr. Ameer Ali
    You say, “In that matchmaking the CIA, RAW and Mossad could work as a trio in coordinating their moves to get a president and prime minister elected at the forthcoming elections to suit their interests.” Seriously? What are actually their interests in Sri Lanka? Especially Israel. Why would Israel be interested in a country like Sri Lanka? You should have listed their interests. If you say, RAW and Mossad are interested in bringing Donald Trump back into power, it is believable. In any case, something is brewing, isn’t it? Trump still holds a lot of power. He was a weak President with strong words whereas Mr. Biden is a strong President with weak words. If NATO will become a non-entity under a future Trump administration, don’t you think the world will be happy?
    1/3

    • 0
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      Talking about the CIA, weren’t they pathetically failed twice already in unseating the democratically elected Russia’s President? Both the “pawns” they used for their “interests” in Russia had to finally give up their lives at a time CIA deemed suitable for inciting mass protests against Mr. Putin. The Kremlin is unwittingly furthering the CIA’s interests by arresting Navalny’s mourners.

      As I mentioned in my first comment on Hamas’ attack in Israel on October 7, there was a hidden hand. My first thought was, the CIA used Hamas in an attempt to unseat the Israeli President. After I researched about Hamas, I realized that I was wrong. Then, it was revealed that Israel was aware of the Hamas attack and the Israeli military took part in killing their own civilians to increase the number of deaths caused by the Hamas attack. I was wrong about Hamas’ intention, but I was correct about the hidden hand in using Hamas’ October 7 attack to overthrow the Israeli PM. Is the CIA now kissing the hand it couldn’t bite? I don’t know. I may be wrong. Many countries may secretly want the Israeli PM out. Will he survive?
      2/3

      • 0
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        There are several conflicting scenarios in Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip. First, the US-Israel trade route via the Gaza Strip. Second, provoking Iran and instigating a proxy war between Israel and Iran to destroy Iran’s military installations. (The US is firing “de-escalation missiles” to “provoke” Iran. I mentioned the Strait of Hormuz in one of my previous comments. Actually, if Iran closes the Strait, it only affects shipments to Europe. That is why I said, there are conflicting scenarios.) Third, drag other Arab countries to a war against Israel and destroy the latter. See what happened to Ukraine after taking the tiger by the tail. Why does the US prolong the Ukraine war? It is still hoping for a war between Russia and Europe to destroy Europe’s economy. The reason the US continued to veto an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip is Iran. The target is Iran. At a recent campaign rally, Donald Trump said that Iran is very rich and now it isn’t easy to enter an agreement with Iran.
        3/3

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