Editorial — 30 June 2018
Belize or Israel: country or God?

There is a saying that there are no atheists in trenches, trenches being holes in the ground men dig during war to shelter themselves from bullets, artillery shells, bombs, and so on. (Atheists are people who don’t believe in God.) Scared to death as men are in these trenches during battle, everybody is praying to God, even those who may be non-believers or skeptical about His existence.

They say that religion is faith-based. There is a point where religious people have to embrace faith totally, and, in effect, abandon reason, or reasonable argument. In World War I, Christian England and Christian France were fighting against Christian Germany. Whose side was God on? In World War II, Christian England and Christian France were fighting against Christian Germany and Christian Italy, which is the home of the Vatican, incidentally. Whose side was God on? When Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims fight against each other, whom does Allah favor?

In their release undermining a demonstration in Belmopan Tuesday afternoon against an Israeli training initiative for some Belizean police officers, the evangelical churches of Belize said that God has said that He will bless anyone who blesses Israel, and He will curse anyone who curses Israel. In other words, God is on Israel’s side, no matter what. In its seventy years of existence, Israel has always been on Guatemala’s side, and vice versa. Does this mean that God is on Guatemala’s side?

Urban Belizeans often have a hustler’s mentality. By this we mean that the first thought that occurs to us when presented with a new situation is, what can I get out of this, instead of, will this be good or bad for me down the road. We make opportunistic decisions, instead of principled decisions. This is how hungry people have to think, in order to survive to fight another day. And that is why the economists say that bountiful natural resources have usually proven to be a curse for poor populations.

Belize is a classic case of a poor population sitting on bountiful natural resources. It is clear that since we achieved a version of political independence in 1981, our political leaders, of both the major political parties, have been unable to resist the temptation to enrich themselves their families, and their cronies. In their corrupt decision making, leaders of both the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the People’s United Party (PUP) have received the enthusiastic support of their respective members and supporters. Meanwhile, many of our native people have migrated, while those who remained in Belize have continued to be victims of poverty, ignorance, and disease, the legacies of European slavery and colonialism.

The fact of the matter is that foreign populations have entered Belize and established themselves in powerful positions in our economic matrix since 1981. On top of that, in 2018 the reality of the Guatemalan republic’s insistence on dismembering The Jewel has become absolutely frightening.

We think the Belizeans who organized Tuesday afternoon’s anti-Israel protest in Belmopan did the issue an injustice because they did not seek to make the protest a mass protest of nationalistic Belizeans. On the other hand, any protest was better than no protest at all, and surely Yasser Musa and Katie Usher must be congratulated. Big up. We are proud of all the artists and other Belizeans who participated.

In the wake of the protest and the pro-Israel response of Belize’s evangelical church leaders, we are reminded of a strange initiative which took place in late 2002 and early 2003. A Mennonite citizen with an openly pro-Israel agenda organized a political party to run in the March 2003 general election. The indications were that he was well financed, and he was able to run candidates in almost 20 constituencies, out of a total of 31. At the time, we thought: what the hell is this all about. In 2018, we would say: what the hell was that all about? To a certain extent, this is our position on the stance taken by the evangelical churches:what the hell are you all about?  Belize or Israel? Historically, one cannot be for Belize and Israel at the same time, because Israel is for Guatemala, and Guatemala is for an end to The Jewel as we know it. Don’t bring God into this. If Belizeans have no country, then we will have no life.

Religious fanaticism is a dangerous thing. That is why the Founding Fathers of the United States of America absolutely separated Church from State in 1776, and made the State have power over the Church. In 1534, Henry VIII in England removed the Anglican Church from the control of the Vatican in Rome and placed it under the King (or Queen) of England.

In the ranks of the so-called Friends of Belize, the United States and the United Kingdom (England) are the two most influential forces. Neither of them puts God over country. Neither does Mexico, which may be the third most influential member of the Friends of Belize. One reason the Mexican people fought the Mexican Revolution in 1910 in order for the Mexican people to be sovereign, and not the clergy.

The clergy of Belize should stay out of this Israel controversy. In Belize, the Israelis are not acting as children of God. In Belize, the Israelis are functioning as friends of Guatemala. The special training for Belize’s police officers is to help ensure that Belizeans opposed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) arbitration do not get out of control in the streets of Belize leading up to April 2019. That is how we have to see it.

Again, why has Israel come halfway across the world to involve itself in the affairs of tiny Belize? We submit that it is because of the bountiful Belize natural resources after which Israel’s beloved Guatemala so lusts. It is not because the Israelis seek to save our dark Belizean souls.  Did the Israelis seek to save the dark souls of the Indigenous people of Guatemala during the civil war there between 1960 and 1996? No, the Israelis were arming and training the Guatemalan military to slaughter Indigenous Guatemalans. This is an indisputable fact.

What difference is there between African/Mayan Belizeans and Indigenous Guatemalans in the eyes of the rulers of Israel? None, Caesar, none.

Power to the people.

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Deshawn Swasey

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