Ilankai Tamil Sangam

24th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

On Israel and Sri Lankan Links

Part 2

by Sachi Sri Kantha, August 31, 2010

In an epilogue to the paperback version, Ostrovsky wrote as follows: “Despite the repeated general charge of falsity, not a single specific misstatement of major fact has ever been cited by Mossad spokesmen. In addition, the book has withstood intense international scrutiny in countries around the world. In Sri Lanka, the government was so concerned about our revelations that it appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate, and the commissioner came to Canada to take evidence from me under oath.”

Part 1

Mossad in Hebrew means ‘Institute’ or ‘Institution’. It is a clipped abbreviation of the longer name, Ha Mossad, le Modiyn ve le Tafkidim Mayuhadim. Mossad’s motto is ‘By way of deception, thou shalt do war.’ Ex-Mossad spy Victor Ostrovsky had cleverly borrowed the first half of Mossad’s motto, for his book title.

In the previous segment, I had merely touched on the Israel-Sri Lankan links, by providing my review of Ostrovsky’s controversial book By Way of Deception (1990). Since it was a review and for space considerations in print journalism, I had omitted the juicy details of what Ostrovsky had provided on the mental capacity of some Sri Lankans (the daughter in law of then President J.R. Jayewardene, and a few GOSL military guys) with whom he was acquainted. The story of how the Mossad spies ‘fooled’ the GOSL high-ranking military purchasing team, by transforming a large vacuum cleaner system used in harbors into a big radar is too hilarious for me to omit.

Thus, in this segment, I thought it is of some relevance for those who are interested in knowing more about Israeli-Sri Lanka links, to provide

(1) direct descriptions of Victor Ostrovsky. He introduces the mercurial Amy Yaar, who was then the Department Head of Far East and Africa in Tevel (liaison), who had lectured to the new recruits. According to Ostrovsky, “Yaar’s department had people positioned throughout the Far East who did little real intelligence; instead they set the framework for future business and diplomatic ties.” Yaar had used a derisive epithet ‘monkey like’ for nine visiting GOSL guys, “They come from a place that’s not developed…”.

(2) an article that appeared in the Tamil Times (Nov. 1984) issue, immediately after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Unfortunately, the author of this article had used a pseudonym ‘Chanakyan’. Though it appears as an anti-USA/Israel polemic from a Left-leaning writer, the issues raised in it had relevance, especially on the mystery behind the killing of Indira Gandhi, at an opportune time, using the Sikh bodyguards.

(3) a cover story in the Lanka Guardian (July 15, 1995) magazine that featured Mervyn de Silva’s commentary on the pro- and anti-Israel split in the Cabinet of then President Chandrika Kumaratunga. Mervyn de Silva had identified five Cabinet ministers (among whom only two are living now – Mahinda Rajapaksa and S.B. Dissanayake) as belonging to anti-Israel lobby. The pro-Israel voice in that Cabinet was none other than Tamil sycophant Lakshman Kadirgamar. Mervyn de Silva’s wisecrack about the verbosity of Kadirgamar that, “Mr. Kadirgamar is the only Foreign Minister (or learned lecturer) I have heard who could speak in the finest English on the many achievements of Jawaharlal Nehru for over a hour without mentioning Krishna Menon!” was funny. Unfortunately, (probably for space reasons), the names of 66 SLFP MPs who protested against Sri Lanka’s slant towards Israel was omitted. It is my inference that even now Mahinda Rajapaksa, in his heart, is not an Israel sympathizer. But as a true politician, he hides his pro-Palestine stance. As an aside, I should note that this particular issue of Lanka Guardian also carried my brief eulogy to Sinhalese scientist Cyril Ponnamperuma, and it was highlighted in its cover.

Victor Ostrovsky’s Observations on Sri Lankans who traveled to Israel

[source: By Way of Deception, St. Martin’s Paperbacks, New York, 1990.]

“Amy Yaar made the connection, then tied the country in militarily by supplying it with substantial equipment, including PT boats for coastal patrol. At the same time, Yaar and company were supplying the warring Tamils with anti-PT boat equipment to use in fighting the government forces. The Israelis also trained elite forces for both sides, without either side knowing about the other, and helped Sri Lanka cheat the World Bank and other investors out of millions of dollars to pay for all the arms they were buying from them.

“The Sri Lankan government was worried about unrest among the farmers – the country has a long history of economic problems – so it wanted to split them up somewhat by moving them from one side of the island to the other. But it needed as acceptable reason to do this. That’s’ where Amy Yaar came in. He was the one who dreamed up the great ‘Mahaweli Project’, a massive engineering scheme to divert the Mahaweli River from its natural course to dry areas on the other side of the country. The claim was that this would double the country’s hydro-electric power and open up 750,000 acres of newly irrigated land. Besides the World Bank, Sweden, Canada, Japan, Germany, the European Economic Community, and the United lStates all invested in the $2.5 billion (US) project.Victor Ostovsky

“From the beginning, it was an overly ambitious project, but the World Bank and the other investors did not understand that, and as far as they are concerned, its’ still going on. Originally a 30-year project, it was suddenly escalated in 1977 when Sri Lanka’s president, Junius Jayewardene, discovered that with a little help from the Mossad, it could become most significant.

In order to convince the World Bank especially (with its $250 million commitment) that the project was feasible – and would also serve as a convenient excuse for moving the farmers from their land – the Mossad had two Israeli academics, one an economist from Jerusalem University, the other a professor of agriculture, write scholarly papers explaining its importance and its cost. A major Israeli construction company, Solel Bonah, was given a large contract for part of the job.

“Periodically, World Bank representatives would go to Sri Lanka for spot checks, but the locals had been taught how to fool these inspectors by taking them on circuitous routes – easily explained for security reasons – then back to the same, quite small area where some construction actually had been carried out for just this purpose. Later, when I was working in Yaar’s department at Mossad headquarters, I was assigned to escort Jayewardene’s daughter-in-law – a woman named Penny – on a secret visit to Israel. She knew me as ‘Simon’.

“We took her wherever she wanted to go. We were talking in general terms, but she insisted on telling me about the project and how money for it was financing equipment for the army. She was complaining that they weren’t really getting on with it. Ironically, the project had been invented to get money from the World Bank to pay for those weapons.

“At that time, Israel had no diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka. In fact, they were supposedly embargoing us. But she was telling me about all these secret political meetings going on. The funny thing was that when news stories were leaked about the meetings, they claimed Israel had 150 katsas working in Sri Lanka. We didn’t have that many katsas in the entire world. In fact, at that time there was only Amy and his helper, both on a short visit.” [pp. 67-69].

In the glossary section, Ostrovsky had explained the term ‘katsa’ as “ ‘gathering officer’ or ‘case officer’. Mossad has only about 35 in operations recruiting enemy agents worldwide, compared with many thousands for KGB and CIA.”

I provide the longest section in the book, that relates to Mossad’s Sri Lanka operations, and that were excluded in my book review. It is as follows:

“ ‘I’ll meet you at the airport,’ Amy said, ‘because we have a group of people coming from Sri Lanka to train here.’

Amy was waiting for the Sri Lankans’ flight from London when I joined him. ‘When these guys arrive,’ he said, ‘don’t make a face. Don’t do anything.’

‘What do you mean?’ I asked.

‘Well, these guys are monkey like. They come from a place that’s not developed. They’re not long out of the trees. So don’t expect much.’

Amy and I escorted the nine Sri Lankans through a back door of the airport into an airconditioned van. These were the first arrivals from a group that would finally total nearly 50. They would then be divided into three smaller groups:

- An anti-terror group training at the military base near Petha Tikvah, called Kfar Sirkin, learning how to overtake hijacked buses and airplanes, or deal with hijackers in a building, how to descend from helicopters on a rope, and other anti-terrorist tactics. And, of course, they would be buying Uzis and other Israeli-made equipment, including bulletproof vests, special grenades, and more.

- A purchasing team, in Israel to buy weapons on a larger scale. They bought seven or eight large PT boats, for example, called Devora, which they would use mainly to patrol their northern shores against Tamils.

- A group of high-ranking officers who wanted to purchase radar and other naval equipment to counter the Tamils who were still getting through from India and mining Sri Lankan waters.

I was to squire Penny, President Jayewardene’s daughter-in-law, around to the usual tourist spots for two days, and then she would be looked after by someone else from the office. Penny was a pleasant woman, physically an Indian version of Corazon Aquino. She was a Buddhist because her husband was, but she was somehow still a Christian, so she wanted to see all the Christian holy places. On the second day, I took her to Vered Haglil, or the Rose of Galilee, a horse-ranch restaurant on the mountain with a nice view and good food. We had an account there.

Next I was assigned to the high-ranking officers who were looking for radar equipment. I was told to take them to a manufacturer in Ashdod named Alta that could do the work. But when he saw their specifications, the Alta representative said, ‘They’re just going through the motions. They’re nto going to buy our radar.’

‘Why?’ I said.

‘These specs were not written by these monkeys,’ the man said. ‘They were written by a British radar manufacturer called Deca, so these guys already know what they’re going to buy. Give them a banana and send them home. You’re wasting your time.’

‘Okay, but how about a brochure or something to make them happy?’

This conversation was going on in Hebrew while we all sat together eating cookies, and drinking tea and coffee. The Alta rep said he didn’t mind giving them a lecture to make it look as if they weren’t being brushed off, ‘but if we’re going to do that, let’s have some fun.’

With that, he went into another office for a set of big transparencies of a large vacuum-cleaner system that is used to clean harbors after oil spills. He had a series of colorful schematic drawings. Everything was written in Hebrew, but he lectured in English on his ‘high capability radar equipment’. I found it difficult not to laugh. He laid it on so think, claiming this radar could locate a guy swimming in the water and practically tell his shoe size, his name and address, and his blood type. When he’d finished, the Sri Lankans thanked him, said they were surprised at this technological advancement, but that it wouldn’t fit their ships. Here they were telling us about their ships. Well, we knew about their ships. We built them!

After dropping me off at the hotel, I told Amy the Sri Lankans weren’t buying the radar. ‘Yes, we knew that,’ he replied.”Tamil Times November 1984 front cover

Sri Lanka – a base for CIA, Mossad and VOA

A political commentary by Chanakyan

[Tamil Times, London, November 1984, pp.10-11]

David Matnai has gone and Azrail Karni has arrived in Sri Lanka last month to be the permanent head of the Israeli interests section in Sri Lanka and to direct Mossad activities. In a cavalier display of supreme Zionist arrogance, Matnai, before he left, delivered a below-the-belt blow to his hosts, by way of a bull in a china shop interview given to the Island. While President Jayewardene was straining every sinew to tell the world that Sri Lanka was forced to bring the Israelis in because India had lobbied and thwarted other sources of assistance coming to Sri Lanka, Matnai spilled the beans by disclosing that even before the July 1983 riots the Sri Lankan government had been brokering for a honeymoon with Israel.

The Economist disclosed the identity of the broker. It was President Reagan’s special envoy, General Walters, who had acted as the ‘marriage broker’ and drafted the agreements, one signed between Sri Lanka and Israel and the other between Israel and the USA.

Costly cup of tea

It must be recalled that at the time it happened, the Government and its kept press described General Walters’ visit as a routine stop in Sri Lanka en route from Pakistan to the Maldives, during which he had ‘a cup of tea’ with President Jayewardene. It certainly must have been the most expensive cup of tea in the world with ex-police superintendent Matnai throwing all his experience from the Internal Security Division (ISD) – USA’s equivalent of the CIA) to provide the highest possible security at the airport and half a dozen helicopters flying General Walters and his men 25 miles away to the President’s house and back – all within a space of three hours!

Perhaps the most painful Matnai thrust on President Jayewardene was that the Israelis accepted the Sri Lankan honeymoon because they had no foothold in Asia since being expelled from the continent and they had seized the opportunity provided by the Jayewardene government to reestablish their presence in Asia. In other words, Israel was interested in the dowry and not the damsel!

The Israel-Sri Lanka honeymoon has just started and already poor Junius Jayewardene and his saber-rattling bunch of ministers are in excruciating pain, thanks to Matnai. Now Matnai and Walters are out of the spotlight and enter Azrail Karni and Richard Murphy!

Azrail Karni is operating from three suits at the super luxury Liberty Plaza at Colpetty, where the Israeli interests section and Mossad had to beat a retreat after Tamil Liberation fighters bombed Hotel Lanka Oberoi, which housed their initial command centre. Karni, 61 years old, is a senior Israeli diplomat, counting a speciality in Asian affairs and State terrorism!

Murphy’s clandestine mission

Close on the heels of Karni came to Colombo another heavyweight – Richard W. Murphy, an assistant secretary of the US State Department, who heads the South Asia and Near East sections. A senior US diplomat, counting wide experience and expertise in Middle East and Asian affairs, Murphy had served as political and economic counselor in several Arab and Asian countries, and later as ambassador in Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.

If General Walters came to have ‘a cup of tea’, Murphy had come to participate in the dedication of the new Chancery of the US Embassy in Colombo. That’s what the Colombo dead ropes said!

Countering India

The Murphy mission appeared to have two distinct objectives. Murphy presided in Colombo over a strategic conclave of all US ambassadors in the region of South Asia to coordinate US schemes for the region. And, what were these schmes?

A report from Ron Tempest to the Los Angeles Times, quoted in the Sun (29 Nov. 1984) stated that the conference in Colombo of US ambassadors of the states of the Indian subcontinent, presided over by Mr Murphy, had as its ‘central concern’ India’s increasingly dominant role in South Asia ‘and how to counter it’! How President Jayewardene’s Sri Lanka readily obliges. Murphy also attempted to play down to selected media men in Colombo, but not to deny, statements made earlier on by Dean Hinton, US envoy in Pakistan, that the US would back dictator Zia ul-Haq’s military regime at Rawalpindi (not surprising, as most military dictatorship in the world have the Eagle backing) in any armed conflict with (the late) Mrs Indira Gandhi’s government.

Now working overtime in Pakistan, he has brazenly dropped even the customary US pretence that arming of Pakistan is directed against the Soviet threat in Afghanistan or the bogey of an attack on Pakistan by Afghanistan, thereby acknowledging the fact that the target is India. It is also during Hinton’s patronage of Pakistan that the Sikh armed attacks in Amritsar and the stockpiling of weapons in the Golden Temple reached their peak, ultimately leading to the cold-blooded murder of Mrs Indira Gandhi.

Preparing plans for the assassination of political leaders whom they do not like has been a traditional pastime of the CIA, the latest exercise being the production of a manual of terrorism, techniques of assassination etc. for use by the Contras who sympatise with the ousted Nicaraguan dictator Somoza against the Sandinist leaders of socialist Nicaragua.

The timing of the Colombo conclave less than a fortnight before the assassination of Mrs Gandhi and its main item on the agenda, do raise some eyebrows when taken together with the fact that Murphy had given a pat on the back to Hinton in Colombo by describing him as a ‘very responsible and diligent diplomat’.

Full DPL status for Israel

The second purpose of Murphy’s visit to Sri Lanka was to wield the whip against Junius Jayewardene’s regime vis-à-vis the originally agreed scheme to grant the Israelis full diplomatic status at the level o an embassy in Sri Lanka. Junius had been hedging this promise and keeping the Israelis at ‘interests section’ level, owing to the overwhelming hostility of the Arab states.

Sri Lanka’s charge d’affaires in Saudi Arabia was summoned to its foreign office and given a tongue lashing. Saudi Arabia had refused to sign the promised protocol to donate 171 million Saudi riyals to provide funds for the right bank development scheme for the Maduru Oya project. Saudi funds expected to bridge budgetary deficits in Sri Lanka were also not forthcoming. Saudi Arabia was also refusing to accept a new Sri Lankan ambassador and shelved its plans to open a consulate in Colombo. Iraq, Sri Lanka’s most important tea buyer, had downgraded its representation in Sri Lanka and was getting ready to call off all Sri Lankan imports and other Arab states were to follow suit. Egypt had kept away from Sri Lankan tea auctions. Kuwait and some other Arab states have either halted or tailed off the recruitment of Sri Lankan labour, now totaling over 300,000 in the Middle East and accounting for over 6 billion Sri Lankan rupees in foreign exchange every year, the second highest foreign exchange earner for Sri Lanka after tea exports.

The Jordanian Foreign Minister has warned his Sri Lankan counterpart to reconsider the Israeli connection. Iran had recalled its newly appointed ambassador to Sri Lanka while en route from Bombay. Urged by Syria and the PLO, the OPEC oil ministers were contemplating punitive measures against Sri Lanka.

It is understood that President Junius has been told in no uncertain terms that the US will not tolerate any more vacillation on the part of Sri Lanka in elevating the status of Israelis in Sri Lanka. The anxiety of the US is understandable, as revealed by a dispatch in Arabia (August 1984): ‘Apparently, the US does not want to be openly involved in the Sinhalese-Tamil conflict. It has therefore encouraged Israel, its protégé, to act on its behalf…The Israeli foreign minister David Kimche visited Washington in May (1984) and was given an assurance that the Reagan administration would encourage the Israeli presence in Sri Lanka, Kenya, Liberia and Bolivia. US Congressman Howard Berman has even put forward a bill proposing that the administration give $20 million to Israel to fund its foreign projects’ [note by Sachi: dots, as they appear in the original text.]

Annexure C: US sabotage?

Another interesting comment made by Murphy to selected media men in Colombo was that the US was thankful to President Jayewardene for allowing its warships free use of Sri Lanka’s ports. The Island (28 Oct. 1984) quoted Mr Murphy as saying that the ‘US does not want bases in the South Asian region’ because ‘the defence strategies of the United States do not necessitate such bases’ and that ‘bases at times were a liability’.

What Mr Murphy was trying to say was that ‘Diego Garcia’ and ‘Boddam’ in the Indian Ocean and other permanent US bases in South Asia were sufficient for the moment for the US and what they were shopping around were for ports in that region for refueling, servicing and other supplies for their warships and submarines. That explains why the Reagan administration had opposed ‘Annexure C’ being accepted at the Round Table Conference in Sri Lanka and forced Junius Jayewardene to jettison it.

In the course of his testimony in August 1984 before the joint meeting of the sub-committee of the US House of Representatives on Asian Affairs and on Human Rights, Mr. Howard B.S. Schaffer, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs, had stated that India had sought to play a helpful role in the Sri Lanka situation, and had lauded the efforts made by Mrs Indira Gandhi but qualified it by saying that the US government had not endorsed all the Indian efforts and cited the ‘Annexure C’ proposal virtually mooted by India, paving the way for the grouping together of district councils to form a provincial council.

That suggests that the messy hands of Uncle Sam had stretched out to the All Party Conference in Colombo, because in terms of ‘Annexure C’ Trincomalee and its harbour would fall within the administration of the Tamils, who were wiser to the wiles of Uncle Sam than ‘Dirty Dick’.

Sri Lanka – biggest VOA outside USA

When the Blitz first reported, complete with the strength of the transmitters, a few months back, on the magnitude of the Voice of America (VOA) transmissions due to commence from Sri Lanka, there were quite a few who refused to swallow it as a bitter pill of sensationalism! Now it has come straight from the horse’s mouth!

Mr Richard Murphy boasted to Sri Lankan media men in Colombo last month that the VOA station to be set up in Sri Lanka ‘would be the biggest VOA station outside the United States’. This is the station from which anti-Tamil and anti-Indian broadcasts are to be beamed to the Asian continent. This is the station from which calumny, subterfuge, and subversion is going to be transmitted to destablise India, and thereby pave the way for the militarization of the Indian Ocean region.

According to the agreement signed between Junius Jayewardene and the VOA, the 1,000 acres on which the VOA station will be built will be virtually USA territory in Sri Lanka. All US technicians and broadcasters working at the VOA will have DPL status and be immune from the normal laws of the land. Their equipment and personal belongings will be waived of customs duties and other taxes. The sophisticated broadcasting and receiving equipment that will be brought into Sri Lanka will be immune from inspection by Sri Lanka, leaving the US to use it as it wishes against any country in Asia, whether it is Sri Lanka’s friend or foe.

The equipment could also be used freely for coordinating communication with the US Sixth Fleet, in whatever action it might be involved in against whichever country in the region. It is understood that negotiations are now going on between the VOA and the Sri Lankan government to amend the Sri Lankan laws suitably to enable the VOA to acquire outright ownership of the 1,000 acres on which the station is to be situated, to prevent Sri Lanka from ever repossessing the land or inspecting what goes on there.

CIA Man – VOA head

It is also not merely incidental that the new director of the VOA appointed by the Reagan administration is Eugene Pell, a diehard antagonist of the socialist and developing countries, a very close associate of the CIA, who has experience in interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, a master in promoting hostility between states, an expert adept in the art of disinformation, and a specialist in destablisation and subversion of governments.

The curious development in Sri Lankan politics is that, under the pressure of the struggle forced upon them against an ever increasing oppression and state terror, the Tamils who had all along been regarded as ‘traditionalists’ and ‘conservative oriented’ are becoming more and more radicalized and forging alliances with progressive forces while the Sinhalese amongst whom the left movement has had deep roots, are capitulating to and becoming pawns of the forces of international reaction and subversion.Lanka Guardian July 15 1995 front cover

*****

Charisma and Credibility – going, going…

Mervyn de Silva

[Lanka Guardian, Colombo, July 15, 1995, p. 1]

It is not often that a governing party in a poor, developing country is suddenly seized by a major internal crisis over a foreign policy issue. When the 66 rebels are joined by five Cabinet Ministers, the backbench revolt becomes a serious challenge to the government, and its leader, the Executive President. When the SLFP-led government is an 8-party ‘grand coalition ‘[the People’s Alliance] with no secure majority in parliament, the government has a major crisis on its hands.

The Cabinet Ministers who oppose the restoration of DPL relations with Israel include the Media and Tourism minister Mr. Dharmasiri Senanayake (a front rank SLFPer), Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse, labour minister, and the SLFP’s southern province stalwart, Mr. M.H.M. Ashraff, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and the PA’s Eastern province stalwart, Mr. Bernard Soysa, the veteran leader of the oldest Leftist party in the country, and finally SLFP’s Youth Affairs and Sports Minister, Mr. S.B. Dissanayake.

And this crisis made front page news just when public attention was focused on a far more serious political-consitutional issue – the dismantling of the J.R. Jayewardene-installed Bonapartist-Gaullist executive presidency of 1978. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party’s policy statement had a brief para which began: “Our primary objective is to abolish the executive Presidency and to establish an executive body which is subject to parliament and in such manner as would safeguard the sovereignty of the people.

(1) The Executive to be appointed by and answerable to the parliament. It’s tenure of office to depend on continuing support by parliament.

(2) The post of President to be above party politics and separate from the position of the chief executive of the government.

It was the report in the Sunday Leader that provoked discussion in political and DPL circles. In a front page ‘lead’ story, the paper reported:

‘The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) representative in Sri Lanka Athellah Khubia had also warned the government that any attempt to bring in the Israelis to Sri Lanka would seriously affect the country’s relationship with the Arab world.’

He had said he would call on Foreign Affairs Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar along with the envoys of other Arab countries to voice strong protest if the efforts to bring the Israelis to Sri Lanka were resumed, the Sunday Leader added. Naturally this has alarmed the PA high command and the Foreign Minister and of course all MPs identified by the pro-Palestinian group as keen advocates of a strong Sri Lanka-Israel connection.

Students of contemporary Sri Lankan politics and foreign policy are also certain to recognize the changing character of ‘the Israel issue’ in local politics, particularly in the context of UNP-SLFP rivalry. Though Mr. Bandaranaike permitted Israel to establish a legation in Colombo, his successor as SLFP leader, Mrs Bandaranaike suspended relations. The only concern then was Sri Lanka’s interest, in maintaining friendly ties with the Arab and Moslem world. The tea market was the overriding economic interest. Israel hardly mattered – except when a resolution came up in the UN Security Council or General Assembly. The Nonaligned had nothing to do with Israel. So our policy was clearly defined. The Egyptian recognition of Israel was the first event to signal important shifts in inter-state relations in the region, with Israel as the common factor.

In our region, it was India’s decision to open an assembly in Israel that provoked new thinking in non-Moslem South Asia. The most outspoken advocate of DPL relations with Israel is Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, an Oxford-educated advocate even more alien to the SLFP ethos than Prof. G..L. Pieris. Mr. Kadirgamar is the only Foreign Minister (or learned lecturer) I have heard who could speak in the finest English on the many achievements of Jawaharlal Nehru for over a hour without mentioning Krishna Menon!

Of course ‘foreign policy’ is not the issue. What this revolt reveals is the mounting strains within an 8-party coalition that was only united in its anti-UNPism and driven by the desire for office, though it does have many more honest, dedicated politicians than the UNP. The inexperience of the President has become a problem too, though her immense popularity keeps the PA going. The diversity of the alliance is a stronger force than the unity of the 8 parties. Personalities, ideological inclinations, regional interests and most of all constituency pressures have started to erode the unity of the PA.

This explains why neither the President not her top adviser, Constitutional Affairs Minister G.L. Pieris seems to regard the abolition of the executive presidency a high priority. Prof. Pieris is losing his credibility faster than President Chandrika is losing her charisma.

*****

Peoples’Alliance Statement: The Anti-Israel 66

[Lanka Guardian, Colombo, July 15, 1995, pp. 2 & 19]

We, the undersigned members of parliament whose signatures appear below appraise the government of the undermentioned factors. Eleven years ago, on 6th June 1984, former President J.R. Jayewardene, allegedly because no other country was willing to help Sri Lanka to contain the Eelam war which was then essentially in its first phase, permitted the opening of the Israeli Interest Sections in Colombo with the objective of helping Sri Lanka to crush the LTTE.

Even after six years of active Israeli involvement in Sri Lanka, the Israeli military help, advise or involvement did not succeed in containing the LTTE. The Israelis could not succeed in taking the war anywhere towards a Sri Lankan government victory, whereas even after six years of Israeli involvement the war slipped in favour of the LTTE, and reached Eelam War II.

The Israeli help in Sri Lanka had not been a success is a fact admitted even by Israelis themselves, as evidenced in the book The Israeli Connection – Whom Israel Arms and Why, written by Benjamin Beit Hallahmi, a Jewish lecturer in the University of Haifa, Israel. After six years of Israeli failure, it was the UNP administration itself, which terminated diplomatic relations with Israel on 20th April 1990.

Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, in a statement published in the Sri Lankan papers of 6th October 1991 and which received worldwide publicity particularly in the Middle Eastern countries stated inter alia:

(a) “When the SLFP came to power in 1970, one of the first steps we took was to close down the Israeli Embassy and send its staff out of the country.

(b) “During a press interview in Hongkong reported in the papers of 1st June 1984, President Jayewardene admitted that the Israeli Secret Service Organisation called Mossad was helping the government to put down terrorism. The so-called ‘Israeli Interests Section’ was only a false front for the notorious Zionist terror organization called Mossad which has been responsible for the torture, mutilation and massacre of untold numbers of Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza strip.

(c) The Island on 26th September (1991) carried an account of a recent interview with the ex-Mossad officer Victor Ostrovsky in which he has categorically stated that Israel provided a variety of equipment to the Tigers giving a list of highly sophisticated weapons. He points out that the deadly use of landmines which has killed and continues to kill our own soldiers in large numbers everyday is the handiwork of the Israelis.

Israeli supply of arms to the LTTE has been confirmed by the Australian Federal Police in a report published in February 1992 in the Telegraph Mirror of Sydney, which reported the Australian Federal Police cracking a massive airline ticketing fraud involving some businessman in Sydney. According to this report, secret meetings had taken place in Israel with arm dealers for the purchase of weapons which had been sent to Tamil guerillas in Sri Lanka, according to the investigators. A former Observer journalist Muditha Dias had filed a report from Sydney which was published in the Observer of 16th February 1992, under the title ‘Australian police confirm Israeli supply of arms to LTTE, according to which some of the Sydney based businessmen had visited Israel thrice in 1991 to arrange shipments of arms to the LTTE.

According to Mr. Mervyn de Silva, a reputed Sri Lankan journalist, considered an authority on Middle-Eastern affairs, it is dangerously foolish to assume that Israeli national interests coincided with Sri Lanka’s national interest and some particularly with Sinhala interest. According to Mr. Mervyn de Silva “there are over 600 so called ‘private’ but actually state supported export-oriented companies in Israel. The sale of arms and expertise is a money spinning export industry in Israel. That industry thrives on conflict, the proliferation of conflict, not its resolution.

In our view, even after 6 year of active Israeli involvement in Sri Lanka’s struggle against the LTTE, the Israelis failed to contain the LTTE, because Israel never wanted to. Israel’s objective was proliferation of conflict and the upkeep of its armament export industry, in which Israel succeeded. It must be obvious to any patriotic Sri Lankan that the national priorities of a country exporting arms such as Israel, are obviously the cause of this country’s curse and such priorities are obviously in conflict with the national priorities of Sri Lanka.

In today’s context we understand that there are a large number of countries willing to help Sri Lanka. Whilst Sri Lanka may obtain arms from any source supplying them at the most competitive price, we wish to convey our strong opposition to Sri Lanka reopening diplomatic relations with Israel, as such moves are inconsistent with the national interest of Sri Lanka.

*****

Coda

It was during President Premadasa’s tenure that the furor relating to Victor Ostrovsky’s book erupted. To satisfy the public sentiments, he appointed a one-man commission in September 1990, the then solicitor general Waldo Bandara Srinihal Wadugodapitiya (later to be a Judge of the Supreme Court), to “inquire into and report on certain allegations concerning Sri Lanka” in this book.

In an epilogue to the paperback version, Ostrovsky wrote as follows: “Despite the repeated general charge of falsity, not a single specific misstatement of major fact has ever been cited by Mossad spokesmen. In addition, the book has withstood intense international scrutiny in countries around the world. In Sri Lanka, the government was so concerned about our revelations that it appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate, and the commissioner came to Canada to take evidence from me under oath.”

I presume, nothing came out of the Wadugodapitiya Commission findings. Maybe, President Premadasa was more interested in dishing some dirt on his then nemesis Lalith Athulathmudali, a pro-Israeli politician who had challenged to topple him via parliamentary-extra parliamentary means. Eventually, Athulathmudali’s challenge turned out to be a dud.

One should also remember that twenty years ago, scribe Dayan Jayatilleke was functioning as a mouth piece of President Premadasa. To accommodate his Master’s taste, in his writings he equated LTTE and Prabhakaran as zionists.

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