Hard truths on Salter’s character witnesses

Staying on message – a reply

With all due respect to Mark Salter, ("Staying on Message", The Island, 31 August), whereas he says quite rightly, that I did not respond to his arguments regarding the Norwegian "negotiation efforts", he should have understood that I was merely addressing one aspect of his argument - which was the "character witnesses" he wheeled on to bolster his point of view.

He talks of me using "guilt by association sleight of hand". But surely, it was he who wheeled on Richard Armitage, Jonathan Powell and David Miliband, in support of his thesis.

For example, he mentions that Richard Armitage was "US (Deputy) Secretary of State,Richard Armitage was from the start highly supportive of Oslo’s engagement in Sri Lanka." Surely, in this context it is germane to discuss the background and ideology of the official of the USA who was being supportive of the actions of the Norwegian state?

He refers to the International Crisis Group (ICG) as "one of the most widely respected global think tanks around." The ICG was founded in 1995 by Ambassador Morton I Abramowitz and the late ex-Congressman Stephen J Solarz, among others. Its Board has included Richard Armitage, Abramowitz, the former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US diplomat Kenneth Adelman, former U.S. National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, former North American Treaty Organisation (NATO) Supreme Allied Commander – Europe (SACEUR) General Wesley Clark,and former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana, former Israeli Minister of Internal Security Shlomo Ben-Ami, and Shimon Peres. The disproportionate number of former NATO personnel, former US defence establishment officials and Israeli ministers alone should set any unbiased mind to wondering about the ICG. A hallmark of many of them is their support for US colonial adventures abroad, notably in Afghanistan, Iraq and former Yugoslavia. Abramowitz, Armitage, Adelman and ICG co-founder Solarz were all associated with the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) the right-wing think tank which drew up the blueprint for the conquest of Iraq. In 1977 Brzezinski created the Nationalities Working Group, intended to weaken the Soviet Union by inflaming its ethnic tensions. Specifically targeted under this programme were the Islamic populations of the USSR and its allies. In 1979 the US began to carry out this policy in Afghanistan, in order, as Brzezinski admitted to La Nouvelle Observetuer in 1998, to drag in the Soviet Union.

The US started funding ‘Islamist’ terrorists such as Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, who targeted civil servants and teachers, especially those engaged in educating women. Ultimately, by 1987 Hekmatyar was to receive over US$ 600 million from the USA and were supplied with about 1,000 state-of-the-art Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, mainly due to the efforts of Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research, Morton I Abramowitz. Some of these missiles later turned up in Sri Lanka in the hands of the LTTE.

Hardly "guilt by association" when the organisation is run and advised by these same people!

He complains that I have misused the quotation he took from Jonathan Powell's book, but then he implies again that the PLO is a terrorist organisation, since he says that Shimon Peres shaking hands with Yasser Arafat was an example of "eventually having to talk to terrorists". That he does not consider Israel's Zionists as state terrorists is implied when he says "In Moonesinghe’s worldview, moreover, Peres becomes a ‘Zionist ethnic cleanser’".

I should draw to this attention the work of historians Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe, who uncovered the story of "Tochnit Dalet", the Zionists' "Plan D" for (in the words of David Ben-Gurion) "cleansing Palestine, whereby a terror campaign was carried out forcing Palestinians to flee from their homes. Shimon Peres was a member of the high command of Haganah; the principal armed group involved in ethnic cleansing, and was an adoring disciple of Ben-Gurion. Later, he was responsible for issuing identity cards to Palestinians in Jerusalem in order to facilitate deportation.

It is sad that Salter, who keeps accusing me of using smear tactics, should try to smear me as "anti-Semitic". When I accuse Hitler and his minions of carrying out the Nazi Holocaust against Jews, Romani and Slavs, am I being anti-German? When I accuse the Ku Klux Klan of being anti-Black, am I being anti-White? If I accuse ISIS of carrying out a murderous policy, am I being anti-Muslim? Hardly!

It would be very difficult for me to be anti-Semitic, since I am proud of my Jewish heritage, and learnt about Zionism from an ex-Zionist Sabra who had been expelled by Haganah from Palestine, for saying the Palestinians were people too.


Vinod Moonesinghe

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