Editorial — 26 May 2018
Nationalism and neighborhood-ism

Beyond carefully charting rural Palestine in preparation for the future takeover of the country, the Zionist movement had by now also obtained a much clearer sense of how best to get the new state off the ground after the Second World War. A crucial factor in this was that the British had already destroyed the Palestinian leadership and its defence capabilities when they suppressed the 1936 Revolt, thus allowing the Zionist leadership ample time and space to set out their next moves. Once the danger of a Nazi invasion into Palestine was removed in 1942, the Zionist leaders became more keenly aware that the sole obstacle that stood in their way of successfully seizing the land was the British presence, not any Palestinian resistance.

As the Second World War drew to a close, the Jewish leadership in Palestine embarked on a campaign to push the British out of the country. Simultaneously, they continued to map out their plans for the Palestinian population, the country’s seventy-five per cent majority. Leading Zionist figures did not air their views in public, but confided their thoughts only to their close associates or entered them into their diaries. One of them, Yossef Weitz, wrote in 1940: “It is our right to transfer the Arabs” and “The Arabs should go!” Ben-Gurion himself, writing to his son in 1937, appeared convinced that this was the only course of action open to Zionism: “The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war.”

– pgs. 22, 23, THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINE, by Ilan Pappe, Oneworld Publications, 2006

About 35 or 40 years ago, a trend began amongst world intellectuals to speculate on, or project, a decline in nationalism, perhaps even its demise, as a surpassing world force. Great thinkers began to suggest that regionalism and internationalism would more and more become the order of the day, moving forward.

Well, you and I know that in 2018 nationalism is still around, big time. When the World Cup begins next month, you will see the most graphic examples of nationalistic intensity. People will live and die emotionally with their national team.

And in fact, the nation-state which should be the least nationalistic on the planet because, as the planet’s only superpower, they unquestionably rule the sucker, recently elected a new President who has taken the United States into an orgy of nationalism which is almost isolationist in tone. Time and time again, Donald Trump has been telling the American people that the U.S. has been taken advantage of here, and taken advantage of there, and that he has come to put things right, to “make America great again.” The rest of us on the planet would really like to know when it was that mighty America stopped being great. The facts don’t matter to Trump and his supporters: it’s all about nationalism.

The historic island state of Japan, for its part, has begun to worry about a decline in its population. A nation-state cannot continue to grow if its population is ageing and declining. This is what has been happening to Japan.

Insofar as national growth is concerned, the most important segment of one’s population is the group in the reproductive bracket. Older citizens have stopped reproducing, and younger ones have not yet reached reproductive age. Within the group of citizens which is of reproductive capacity, the most critically volatile citizens are those we would describe, loosely, as “young men.” All over the world, such young men are the ones who comprise the bulk of national militaries: they are in the front line of their nation’s defences.

That is not the overall case in a dysfunctional nation-state such as Belize. (We mean no disrespect to our fine young men in Belize’s army and coast guard. They constitute the exception that proves the rule, as it is said.) The majority of our young men have no allegiance to the Belizean nation-state, and they have been murdering each other in an urban civil war, a blood bath, for more than a quarter century. No elected government in Belize, whether  United Democratic Party (UDP) or People’s United Party (PUP), has been able to do anything about the sickening violence amongst our young men, and the main reason is that such young men have no allegiance to the nation-state of Belize. They have no such allegiance to Belize because Belize has failed them, and because they have no reason to believe Belize has any intention to change.

Such young men are loyal to their neighborhoods, not to Belize, because it is their neighborhoods which provide food and justice for them on a daily basis. The Belizean politicians who are financed by the oligarchy to win power  in elections, know that the oligarchs have no  interest in improving the living conditions in the neighborhoods in question, so these Belizean politicians, whether UDP or PUP, have always pursued policies of brutal force and repression in the specific neighborhoods. In such neighborhoods, there is no other way to say it, the concept of Belize actually amounts to the concept of a failed state.

37 years ago, Belize took a giant constitutional leap forward to political independence and nationhood. Because of the Guatemalan claim to Belize, a relic of Great Britain’s colonial days in this region, however, there was an experimental aura to Belize’s nationhood. But, there was the natural optimism of a people achieving self-rule, even though Belize actually entered independence under a state of emergency.

Since 1981, the nation-state of Belize has not proved itself worthy of loyalty and respect amongst the youth in the civil war neighborhoods. Outside of theseneighborhoods, there is ostentatious wealth, in some cases just across the Haulover Creek. The elected politicians drive expensive vehicles and vacation all over the world. Belize has some of the most extraordinarily extravagant tourist resorts in the world.  But, inside the civil war neighborhoods there is starvation and there is war.

It is not impossible for the nation-state of Belize to win the loyalty of the civil war neighborhoods. It has not happened because Belize’s politicians are owned by the oligarchy. In fact, some of the more successful politicians, their families, and their cronies, have themselves become oligarchs. You call the names, and we’ll do the whistling. An abiding, fundamental characteristic of the traitor is that he or she has no concern for the wretched of the earth. To hell with the ‘hoods. The oligarchs live in the world of supersonic jets, credit cards, and brand name purchases.

In one respect, it is interesting to compare Israel, one of planet earth’s great military powers, and Belize, one of planet’s earth military weaklings. Every able-bodied Israeli citizen, male or female, must register for two years of military training and service at the age of 18. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why such is not the case in Belize, a nation which is being threatened militarily by a giant bully?

All civilized human beings prefer peaceful solutions to conflicts. This is the mantra of the United Nations. But there are special rules for Israel, which violates resolution after resolution by the United Nations with the unfailing Security Council support/veto of the United States. Recently, Jimmy Morales, President of Guatemala, flew to Israel to be present personally for the transfer of the Guatemalan embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Morales was copying the highly provocative initiative of U.S. President Donald Trump when he moved America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Many concerned Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces as a result of the Trump provocation, and thousands have been injured.

In the Government of Belize Cabinet in the years leading up to Belize’s independence in 1981, there were Belizeans of Palestinian descent who had actually traveled to Palestine and seen the terrible living conditions of their ancestral people in the 1960s. The story of how the Palestinians were dispossessed and their lands seized features British perfidy. That is why Belize believed we were forced to gamble with independence without a defence guarantee: the option would have been dismemberment by British perfidy.

So now, this is where we are, 37 years later. We Belizeans are in better shape than the Palestinians, because we did not repeat their mistakes. The price for our continued sovereignty and territorial integrity will be, as they say, eternal vigilance. At the very least, we need our young men to be fighting for us instead of against each other. You with eyes to see, see.

Power to the people.

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Deshawn Swasey

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