Dear Chief Minister,
I see from the news today that you are currently in Israel for a conference. A picture is circulating on Twitter of yourself shaking hands with President Shimon Peres.
This comes just a few days after you paid tribute to Nelson Mandela for fighting his entire life against Apartheid and racial discrimination.
I first just want to draw attention to a quote from Nelson Mandela, in a memo that he sent to the American journalist Thomas Friedman - "Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has deprived millions of Palestinians of their liberty and property. It has perpetuated a system of gross racial discrimination and inequality. It has systematically incarcerated and tortured thousands of Palestinians, contrary to the rules of international law. It has, in particular, waged a war against a civilian population, in particular children."
Today Israel commits crimes against the Palestinian people which are almost identical (and in many cases much worse) to the crimes that were committed against non-whites in South Africa.
Israel occupies the West Bank and runs a blockade of the Gaza Strip which is almost universally condemned by the international community. Military operations are regularly conducted by Israel which almost always end up killing a significant and disproportional number of civilians. Israel is in breach of more United Nations resolutions than all of the other countries of the world combined.
I am sure you are not a supporter of any of these things.
Of course it is a positive thing for Jersey politicians to go around the world to encourage businesses in other countries to set up in Jersey, including Israeli businesses. But it is our duty as a society that values freedom, equality and democracy, not to enable other countries to commit crimes against humanity.
The reason why the Boycott Movement campaign was so important to South Africa, was because it forced the government to accept that the system was not sustainable in the long run and that it could not remain profitable so long as it was the cause of discouraging businesses to engage with South Africa.
Likewise, the BDS campaign for Israel is equally as important. So long as Israel's oppression and occupation of the Palestinians remains financially viable it will continue and crimes will keep on being committed. The occupation will crumble when it becomes both politically and financially unsustainable.
So I am concerned when I see politicians visiting Israel, and I want reassurance that absolutely nothing is being done that could risk Jersey engaging and, by extension, assisting with the occupation.
So I want to ask you; what precautions do you and your colleagues take when in Israel, to ensure that you are not encouraging any business that is either based on occupied territory, or profits from the occupation, to forge links with Jersey? When visiting Israel (and Arab countries with very poor human rights records) do Jersey politicians exercise any moral judgement when making decisions on who to speak to, and how to speak to them?
One specific example of something that I thought was unacceptable was when Senator Maclean visited Israel in March this year and met with the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a city which is half occupied, and it's occupation is one of the biggest obstacles to peace in the region because the Palestinians want East Jerusalem as their capital. The occupation of Jerusalem is considered illegal under international law, and therefore the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem is an illegitimate position. Part of that role involves administering an illegal occupation which has seen thousands of Palestinians thrown out of their homes with no compensation, to be replaced by Jewish settlers.
Were I the Economic Development Minister, I would seriously have considered not meeting the Deputy Mayor.
I hope you will take the time to read this email and answer my questions on how you and your colleagues consider these factors when making decisions.
As long as Jersey is taking up more responsibilities for it's international identity, it is important for the government to take a moral stance on various issues and make it clear that Jersey will not inadvertently assist any government that is abusing human rights.
"Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians." - Nelson Mandela