By Ramzy Baroud –
Alas, those who are recognised as the representatives of the Palestinians stand on the wrong side of history, writes Ramzy Baroud, editor of PalestineChronicle.com and author, in a recent column.
In June 7, 1970, a 24-year-old Mahinda Rajapaksa, lawyer and the youngest member of the Sri Lankan Parliament, gave an impassioned speech centring on the Palestinian struggle, the first of many more to come over the next four decades. The speech was the vote of thanks to the Throne Speech by the world’s first woman prime minister Mrs. Bandaranaiyake when she came into power, in which she declared Sri Lanka would sever all relations with Israel.
Most heads of the country have aligned themselves with Palestine, although none as strongly as the current president. President Rajapaksa headed the Palestine Solidarity Movement in Sri Lanka which was an offshoot of the Arab Solidarity Movement of Sri Lanka for 30 years until he was elected the country’s president.
As Sri Lanka continued its opposition to occupation of Palestinian land and their oppression, it also began harvesting enemies. Perhaps the battle against terrorism in its own soil and a step-brotherly treatment by most Western nations made the country more empathetic towards the Palestinian struggle.
The friendship between the two countries however did not prevent the Palestinians from allegedly training the Tamil Tiger terrorist faction during the early stages of its three decade war against the government, nor did the country’s anti-Israel stance prevent it from seeking to procure arms from Israel during the war years.
(However, Israel reneged on its agreement to provide arms to Sri Lanka after a sudden visit by the Iranian president to the country, citing that Israel’s fire power, defence and war secrets might be leaked out to Iran).
Since President Rajapaksa’s presidency though, Sri Lanka has become a vociferous ally of Palestine, with the president speaking against the oppression of Palestinians and in favour of Palestinian statehood at different forums.
In reciprocation, Palestine has stood by Sri Lanka through the war years, and now during decisive moments after the war. Every time the United Nations or the US moved against the island over various allegations including the war crimes accusations involving the government and President Rajapaksa, Palestine has remained a steadfast friend.
Like all alliances and the threat that comes with taking sides, siding up with the Palestinian struggle has, and will, cost Sri Lanka.
The resolution moved against the island over its alleged war crimes at last month’s UN Human Rights Commission was tabled by the United States and co-sponsored by Israel. With further bilateral agreements signed between Sri Lanka and Palestine last week, the countries are sending out fresh signals in their strengthened cooperation.
Sri Lanka has undeniably set itself as a representative of Palestine.
Courtesy Khaleej Times
Lasantha Pethiyagoda / April 21, 2012
While support for a free Palestine would come naturally to any unbiased individual who examines facts and history, the sad reality is that the West, in its eagerness to be seen as Israel’s “friend” seems to blindly and unequivocally support Israeli hegemony, ethnic cleansing and genocide of Palestinians with impunity and against the will of the vast majority of the UN’s membership.
Another reality is that Mahmoud Abbas does not represent the Palestinians and is not a true elected leader, as he is holed up in a compound and acts according to the dictates of Israel. The true leadership of Palestinians is with Hamas, who only democratically control the Gaza strip, whereas the West Bank, deliberately segregated from Gaza, is a tool in Israeli hands.
Winning the PR war with Arab allies must therefore involve the Gaza leadership…
gamini / April 24, 2012
Both MR and Mohamed Abbas are pawns in the hands of the Zionist Americans. That is why he was sent by them to make visit to Sri Lanka soon after the bi-lateral agreement was signed between Israel and Sri lanka. Sooner those Arab States that supported Sri Lanka at the recent UNHRC realise this at the next session they will surely withdraw the support to Sri Lanka.
gamini / April 21, 2012
Our tax money working through Bell Pottinger & Co, trying hard to save face for MR to salvage him from an imminent catastrophe. To begin with Ramzy Baroud is wrong to say that MR was a Lawyer at 24 in 1970. MR entered parliament in 1970, at 23 and enjoyed the facility to enter Law College without facing an entrance examination as for others which is highly competitive, thanks to the courtessy of Kitchen Brains who governed the country in the UF coalition who promised to bring rice from the moon for the masses who voted the UF into power in ’71. Now MR is carrying the brief for the Zionist Americans, and his dispensation to the Palastinian cause is lukewarm, considering his own survival.
Donald J Gnanakone / April 21, 2012
Israel sent/sold arms and ammunition, boats and planes without interruption. That was very profitable. Israel did not care about secrets as it was not that high tech.
They also hated the LTTE for several reasons, although Mossad did train some Tamils too as they bought equipment from Israel. The Israeli author -of – By way of deception- describes some of that story. Ravi and Penny Jayawardene were in Israel the same time says the book/.
Who cares now, that is 25 years or more ago. The Rajapakses are still supportive of Israel while providing lip service to Palestine.
karu / April 21, 2012
Sri Lanka and Israel conduct Bilateral Consultations 21.04.2012
The first ever bilateral consultations between the Ministry of External Affairs of Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel were held at the Ministry of External Affairs in Colombo on 20th April, 2012…… read all http://www.mea.gov.lk/index.php/media/3412-sri-lanka-and-israel-conduct-bilateral-consultations
Dr.T.Jayasinghe / April 21, 2012
Alleged training of Tamil Tiger terrorists by Palestine is very often mentioned by writers without knowing the correct facts.As a former member of the Arab Solidarity movement in Sri Lanka and later as the founder General Secretary of the Sri Lanka Committee for Solidarity with Palestine I have investigated into this question of training. What actually happened was that some Tamil Tiger terrorists went to Lebanon and met Dr. Geroge Habash of Palestine and discussed about training and they were told to fight along with the Palestinian gruop of Dr Habash. This matter did not go beyond that.The main Fatah group had nothing to do with this. Palestinians were never against Sri Lanka and continue to be great friends.As the Representative for Sri Lanka in Palestine Iam confident about it.
Bernard Perera / April 21, 2012
Srilankan Foreign Ministry having talks with the Isreal Deligates
including their Ambassoder ti India for bi-lateral relationships.
This is just after Abbas arrival… That is OK as this is what is
Gowrie / April 21, 2012
Writer is wrong.MR wasn’t a lawyer until 1974. Here we are talking about a man who never completed his A/L education. He graduated from a law college in 1974. And how did he do that? He entered the law college through the back door. Thanks(no thanks)to the then-justice minister’s silly decision to allow MP’S to enter law college. Before 1970 he was a clerk at a library..Today this boor thinks he is a pundit.
Rohan Jayasekera / April 21, 2012
It’s not true that Sri Lanka was ‘punished’ for its supposed support for Palestinian rights by a supposedly US & Israeli orchestrated vote censuring SL in the UNHRC. SL’s support for Palestine was always at best rhetorical, at worst cynically hypocritical, and cheerfully abandoned whenever arms, money and training was sought from Tel Aviv and Washington.
The point is that SL failed to make the case in a forum of its peers, its dreadful record finally called to account by countries with no sense of debt to either the US or Israel – including countries like Benin, Cameroon, Libya and most strikingly, Nigeria and India – or were abandoned by abstention by countries like Jordan and Malaysia.
All countries with large or majority Muslim populations and pro-Palestine records, by the way.
Diplomacy couldn’t save Sri Lanka from further humiliation on the world stage. Greater respect for human rights just might though.
gamini / April 21, 2012
This article just appears soon after Sri Lanka signs the first bi-lateral agreement with Israel at the Ministry in Colombo. This news is in the Daily Mirror. How coincidental for this writer Ramzy Baroud to write about MR’s closeness to the Palastine cause? As I said before, is the tail not shown of Bell Pottinger & Co getting various individuals to publish articles to save MR’s skin. Palastinians should be made aware that MR is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and not to touch him, even with a barge pole.
Piranha / April 21, 2012
Mahinda is nothing but a two faced opportunist. While he supports the palestinians’ struggle for freedom and statehood he is stamping his jackboot hard on the oppressed tamil people of the country of which he is president.The plaestinians will do well to gain the support of many countries without the support of this war criminal Rajapaksa.