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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06BRIDGETOWN1556
2006-09-06 13:57:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Bridgetown
Cable title:  

BARBADOS: OP-ED RILES LOCAL JEWISH COMMUNITY

Tags:   PHUM  ASEC  OPRC  KPAO  SCUL  BB  XL 
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SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM ASEC OPRC KPAO SCUL BB XL
SUBJECT: BARBADOS: OP-ED RILES LOCAL JEWISH COMMUNITY




1. (U) SUMMARY: On August 26, a leading daily newspaper ran
a half-page op-ed piece in its weekly "As A Matter Of Fact"
column, which offended Barbados' Jewish community. Intended
as criticism of the armed conflict in Lebanon, the article
degenerated into the propaganda of intolerance. The paper
printed an apology on August 29 dissociating itself from the
views expressed by the author and disavowing the op-ed's
anti-Semitic sentiments. Fortunately, there have been no
violent repercussions in response to either the article or
the reaction to it. End Summary.



2. (U) In an August 26 op-ed in "The Barbados Advocate," a
leading daily newspaper, regular columnist David "Joey"
Harper made several insulting and erroneous remarks which
were an affront to the Jewish community. Referring to the
Jewish people as "stiff necked, wicked" and "uncontrollable,"
he also accused them of having an "ultimate Aryan agenda" and
being "Bush administration lackeys." Harper is the Chairman
of the Child Care Board and the Chief Executive Officer for
the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP). This is not the
first time he has expressed incendiary opinions, nor is the
Jewish community the sole target of his condemnation. He has
also lambasted homosexuals, teachers, and the Anglican church
for various perceived offenses and shortcomings.

OPINION


--------------------------





3. (U) Harper's article appears to be intended to criticize
the recent conflict in Lebanon, as he begins his harangue by
stating that no one people has the right to determine which
groups have the right to exist in a world created for all
men. He laments the loss of innocent life from Hiroshima to
Lebanon. Harper then digresses into an anti-Semitic rant on
the historic relationship between God and the Jews. His
argument goes on to include criticism of the Bush
administration and American foreign policy for subjecting the
Middle East to "American style terrorism" and murdering
innocents in the name of "collateral damage." Harper
concludes by exhorting "the Jews" to accept the teachings of
the New Testament to allow world peace to flourish.

REACTION


--------------------------





4. (U) Members of the local Jewish community protested the
paper's publication of this hate-filled, anti-Semitic
diatribe, noting in calls, e-mail messages and letters to the
editor that "hatred corrupts one's ability to relay the facts
accurately," and "incites violence." The Advocate's
editorial committee took quick steps to distance itself from
the sentiments espoused in Harper's piece, but took full
responsibility for inadvertently allowing it to be printed.

COMMENT


--------------------------





5. (SBU) Members of the small local Jewish community have
enjoyed a generally peaceful coexistence with the rest of
Barbados society since 1654. They report, however, that in
times of national or global distress, articles and sentiments
such as those expressed by Harper do occasionally surface.
They attribute such sentiments to incomplete information on
world events and the insularity and narrow social views of
the majority.



6. (SBU) Insensitive and slanderous remarks, while not the
norm, are not uncommon in the sheltered, homogeneous culture
of Barbados where such comments about "others," usually
foreigners, are unremarkable. The paper, which has made
similar publishing blunders before, is culpable for a lack of
journalistic editing standards rather than for supporting any
particular ideology. Fortunately, there have been no/no
reports of discrimination or violence as a a result of the
op-ed or the rebuttal letters. Nonetheless, that a prominent
individual holds such views and finds it appropriate to share
them publicly is disturbing.
KRAMER