West Indies Federation Versus Confederation of Canada: Wha’ Happen? – By Clyde Duncan

Let’s Talk About West Indies Federation Versus Confederation of Canada: Wha’ Happen?

  • By Clyde Duncan – past President of Guyanese Canadian Cultural Association of B.C.

This thing about the West Indies Federation and the reasons for the failure has been around for more than 50-years. All the finger-pointing: It was the Jamaican people – It was the egos of the West Indian leadership – Let us be blunt: It was British leadership that was the source of the West Indies Federation failure. Whoever said that the sun never set on the British Empire because God never trusted an Englishman in the dark is right.

Let me tell you about Guyana-born, Sir James Douglas and Barbados-born, Colonel Richard Moody. These men spent their formative years in British Guiana, Barbados and influenced by the English-speaking Caribbean, in general; and like most of the leaders in Guyana and the English-speaking Caribbean they went overseas to better their education. The leadership of a man from Guyana and a man from Barbados are some of the reasons Canada is the second largest country in the world.

Around 1858, Guyana-born, James Douglas was the Governor of Vancouver Island – Canada did not exist until 1867 – it was the days of the Wild West and the California Gold Rush was practically over. The word was out that gold was found on Vancouver Island; the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan on the mainland; therefore, the miners started a rush north to New Caledonia [now called British Columbia].

Douglas could see the shiploads of American miners disembarking at Vancouver Island; he witnessed the British loss of the State of Oregon and the State of Washington to the USA with the stroke of a pen by a couple of disgruntled Chief Fur Traders at Hudson’s Bay Company.

Douglas wrote to Queen Victoria advising that the American miners will soon outnumber the British and First Nations Peoples on Vancouver Island; and he was concerned that the same thing that happened to Oregon and Washington States would happen in New Caledonia [British Columbia].

The Queen responded that Douglas was overly concerned and the British did not want to antagonize the USA. Of course, the British military was pre-occupied with other conflicts at the time; and there was no military presence on the West Coast of [Canada] – besides a few policemen.

Douglas was on the ground, the first line of defence and could see what was happening; the miners were drunken and unruly, firing their six-guns and shotguns all hours of the day and night as they disembarked from the ships coming up from California, disrupting the peace and civility of the communities. In fact, in the Fraser Canyon they were raping; stealing and shooting the First Nations Peoples. So, Douglas went down to California and invited some disgruntled freed African-Americans to come north – these African-Americans were free, but not free to have a business, free to get a job, or free to vote – Douglas told them that there were opportunities for them up north and they took him at his word and came north. Douglas formed what is commonly known as the “African Rifles” – they brought civility back to the community until reinforcements arrived in the form of the Royal Navy and Royal Engineers, led by Barbados-born, Colonel Richard Moody, who was also a former Governor of the Falklands Islands.

Queen Victoria proclaimed the colony of British Columbia in November 1858, and appointed Guyana-born, James Douglas the first Governor; his wife, Lady Amelia was First Nations People [Métis]. Colonel Richard Moody was appointed Lieutenant-Governor. But, we are talking about leadership and I wanted to make it absolutely clear that both of these men were cut from the same cloth in Guyana, Barbados and the English-speaking West Indies, in general – so look what they did for Canada.

Douglas’ black mother was born in Barbados and his white father was born in Scotland. The Douglas family in Scotland were wealthy sugar merchants who owned several sugar plantations in British Guiana. Incidentally, Douglas was the first multi-cultural chief administrator of any country, colony, state or province in North America. The first black family in the White House was elected in November 2008, about 150-years later – backward country that. The newspapers of the day wrote about Douglas the way they write about Obama, today. No mention of race – except we know all about the divide-and-rule strategies of the British. After Douglas retired, the people of British Columbia were talking about seceding to the USA unless they built a railway to connect British Columbia to the rest of Canada. Incidentally, British Guiana was the first country in South America to have a railway. But I digress.

So, how come the West Indies Federation failed and the Confederation of Canada succeeded?? We have the leadership; the people; the resources in Guyana and the English-speaking Caribbean that could come together and make a federation work 50-years later. The real land of Guyana is twice the size of Britain. But we would rather look back and play the blame-game??

Around 1867, the British started the process of building Canada, which was concluded with the patriation of the Constitution in 1982. Until 1982, Canada was not a fully independent country. In other words, the British Parliament would enact laws for Canada that we had difficulty dealing with on our own. The same colonial mentality prevailed in Canada as we have in Guyana and the English-speaking Caribbean. The finger-pointing and in-fighting and blame-game between provinces, but the British chose not to grant Canada full independence. Yet, they granted Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago independence at a crucial juncture in the building of the West Indies Federation in 1962; while for Canada, it was still another 20 years away from becoming a fully independent country in 1982?

All I am saying is we are finger-pointing at the wrong sources for the failure of the West Indies Federation. Perhaps, we should give up that exercise in futility. Perhaps, we should start building on what we have in 2016. We are almost there!

DouglasVisitors to Guyana, you should check out the statue of Sir James Douglas at his birthplace in Mahaica. It was made from the same mould as the one at the Birthplace of British Columbia, National Historic Site Fort Langley. Of course, people still, to this day, walk by the statue at Fort Langley and ask “Who is he?” While you are in Canada, you may also visit the City of Port Moody, British Columbia; [a suburb of Vancouver] named in honour of Colonel Richard Moody.

Photo: The unveiling of Sir James Douglas’ statue at Mahaica. ECD. Guyana [see story]

Duplicate of statue at birthplace of British Columbia – Fort Langley. The attached photos of statue at birthplace of first governor of B.C.: Mahaica, Demerara, Guyana

Duplicate of statue located in British Columbia – Fort Langley. – at birthplace of first governor of B.C. at Mahaica, Demerara, Guyana

More info:

Sir James Douglas – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Douglas_(governor)

Colonel Richard Moody  – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Moody

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  • De castro  On 01/28/2016 at 4:51 am

    Interesting historical reminder with an anti colonial flavour.
    Agree not to forget historical facts but we must be realistic….that is now history…best forgiven
    not forgotten.
    Today our world is much different….applying similar rules and expecting similar results is futile.
    Accept that by applying different rules one can expect similar results…..get my drift.
    So how can we formulate a west Indian federation.?
    Now that we know why it failed how do we move forward to form such a federation !
    Learn from the mistakes of British Imperial mistakes by not repeating them.
    Maybe USA and Canada can act as colabators in reuniting carribean in forming
    such. Or even Commonwealth be invited in consultation.
    What has happened to CARIFTA….is that defunct or needs updating/upgrading.?

    My suggestion is that a similar idea to EU be considered.
    Free movement of goods services and peoples….observing the mistakes EU has made in the
    implementation of such. Incidentally I support the EU idea in principle but in action too much bureaucracy…..and interference by major players.
    The free trade area works.
    The one central bank does not.
    The one currency was the cart before horse scenario.
    The free movements of goods and services brilliant idea.
    The free movement of peoples good idea also….but many issues ongoing.

    The freedom we felt when there was removal of border controls as we drove east and south from UK
    on our holidays….the one currency freedom….the adventure of so many different foods music culture.
    Heaven ! Today things are much different but am sure the obstacles will be overcome as its what our
    world wants/needs. Am a bit philosophical here…but dreams can come true.
    Martin Luther had a dream.
    LFSB also….one people one nation one destiny.
    Their dreams are ours too.

    Thanks for the historical reminder of imperialistic rule…..sadly it exists today.

    Que Sera sera

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/28/2016 at 7:24 am

    British Columbia joined Confederation of Canada in 1871; and Canada became the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as official policy in 1971.

    A brilliant move by Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Liberal government. Pierre is the father of the current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

    • De castro  On 01/28/2016 at 7:50 am

      Ha ha 100 years later😈
      Trudeau is a liberal….liberalism
      leads to anarchy….once freedom
      is given no turning back.
      It’s how quickly it is given
      that matters.
      Canada would have been better
      off with a socialist government.
      Just saying😇

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/28/2016 at 8:04 am

    Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their say – Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann

    • De castro  On 01/28/2016 at 9:08 am

      We all have opinions of things topical
      Those who remain silent may be suppressing/oppressing the truth….diplomats
      do this diligently. Am no diplomat
      or politician…just me.!
      That’s why followed a trade
      Unionist career. Was always
      ‘”Working class” receiving a
      wage for my labour….my choice.
      No regrets. 😇

  • Leslie Chin  On 01/28/2016 at 10:46 am

    It has been 53 years since the West Indian Federation broke-up. A lot has happened since then and many lessons learned to merit reconsideration of a Federation:
    • 193 countries have gained independence since 1962. Most of them micro states.
    • These micro states are struggling to survive. They depend of family remittances from abroad and foreign aid to make ends meet.
    • A lot of their citizens are emigrating to more developed countries for better opportunities e.g. the US, Canada and Great Britain.
    • They are being harassed by larger neighbours e.g, Venezuela claiming the Essequibo region of Guyana.

    What is needed is a constitutional conference similar to Philadelphia in 1776 which founded the United States and Charlottetown in 1867 which founded Canada. However there should be a caveat that the delegates to the conference must be dedicated, of high calibre, conscientious and committed to the formation of a Federation. Perhaps a leader will emerge from the delegates to the constitutional conference who can unite the islands. Guyana and Belize should be included in the Federation.

    • De castro  On 01/28/2016 at 12:11 pm

      Agree on most of the above ..
      However disagree that Guyana
      and Belize be included in the
      federation without a referendum.
      Also wherever possible a referendum
      should be held on an ‘in out’ vote.
      U.K. will soon have the ‘in out’ vote
      over the EU continued membership.
      Why shouldn’t the Carribean also have
      a similar choice.
      Latin America may soon have to consider a confederation of Latin
      American states which can include
      Guyana Brazil Suriname and -Cayaine
      even Spanish speaking Carribean.
      We can but speculate here as am sure
      Big Brother USA will raise objections.
      But if the people choose in a referendum USA will have to accept
      their decision.
      My thinkings on future developments.

      Let’s see what happens in USA elections….next CIC ?


  • Albert  On 01/28/2016 at 12:00 pm

    Leslie….”These micro states are struggling to survive

    Agree with you on some of the problems. The thing is some of the leaders of these 2 by 4 countries have more personal pride than water in the Atlantic. Unlikely they would easily surrender their countries authority to a Federal body. As long as the remittances keep flowing they will hold on to their coconut throne Things will change when this generation in the North die out.

    • De castro  On 01/29/2016 at 3:59 am

      Excellent point about the “dependant”
      Culture of many Carribean countries
      Inhabitants. Awaiting remittances from
      those who live abroad. Yes if/when that cord is cut they will either “walk the talk’ or stagnate. This may seem
      a bit harsh or heartless but even a
      baby in eventually weaned off its
      mothers milk. Independence is a
      very ‘watered down’ word for some.
      That is why a ‘referamdum’prior to
      formation of the federation is recommended. One of many solutions
      for the political cl-ass to decide
      on. Their dilemma.
      We shall see …some may even
      choose to remain independent
      states or colonies…

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/29/2016 at 12:41 am

    Sachia Vickery (born May 11, 1995) is an American tennis player. Her mother is Guyana-born, Paula Liverpool. Vickery has been ranked as high as world number 108 in singles by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). She won one ITF doubles title in 2013.

    Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame inductees: Guyana-born, Charmaine Hooper and Alex Bunbury. I have always said that we should bring our football players back and form a West Indies Football Team …. there are enough football stars from the Caribbean Islands playing out there to form a team.

    Leslie Chin is on to something positive.

    • De castro  On 01/29/2016 at 4:18 am

      Nice one…he who plays the piper
      calls the tune.
      Who will pay these “sports women/men. FIFA ?
      Come on get real…observe
      what talented sportsmen/women
      do to further their short careers.
      Walk the talk. Some even chosing
      to represent countries other than
      those of their birth. Money trail.
      Not wishing to read ‘negative’
      Some of those successful ones
      do return to encourage their fellow
      country youths to follow a sporting
      career….unfortunately overseas.
      Economics precedes politics even
      in sport. Ways I sees it…🏏🏌✈️

    • Hylton Fernandes  On 03/24/2016 at 10:08 pm

      Clyde Duncan, I heard through the grape vine that your mother is or was a putagee, which begs the question, why do you disparage the Portuguese people, weren’t you loved by your mother?

      • Hylton Fernandes  On 03/24/2016 at 10:15 pm

        Hylton: You will NEVER understand, in this lifetime.

        Your thing about “white superiority” is a mental-block on REASON

        A lot of Portuguese from Guyana feel that superiority over
        the rest of the population

        – that is your right to feel however you want to feel ….

        I would not waste my time trying to reason with you
        or any other hateful Guyanese out there.

        So, I state my reasons and to hell with what you think.

        Hillary Clinton is a politician

        I could waste more time expanding on the politician part …

        But why …?? You will NEVER understand.

        You believe you know more about what is good for black people
        than black people know about what is good for them.

        You fully support Donald Trump because he is a white man.

        White people know more about what is good for the rest of the world.
        You align yourself with the KKK – white superiority mindset

        You have a right to think and believe what you want, I say.

        And so do I ….!!!

        I am right!!


      • De castro  On 03/25/2016 at 5:54 am

        You may think you are ‘right’
        Aka ‘correct’ but it reads
        ‘arrogance’ of power.
        Hitler Mussolini Stalin Bush
        Et al ..comes to mind…
        Am also guilty of such arrogance
        in conversation but in writing I
        can read and respond if I disagree
        ….most of us are bad listeners
        sometimes ‘interrupting’ before
        other has finished…TV Radio
        our influence…that’s why we have
        several dailies and free press in our
        democracies….we can choose which
        to read. We can do same with TV
        but sound and sight is a lot more
        influential in society today.
        Can go on and on but anything
        over 100 words and I loose interest
        sometimes not wishing to read further.
        So will end this epitath.
        Lord kamtan

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/30/2016 at 4:25 pm

    Somebody in Langley, British Columbia wrote: Clyde, you have certainly worked hard on that report. Probably all true but sounds rather negative.

    My response: It was not intended for Canadians or the British – I am responding to the negativity and naysayers within the Guyanese and Caribbean English-speaking communities. It is high time we stop squandering our talent and resources on snivelling about the past and grow up! We have huge potential ..

    • Hylton Fernandes  On 03/24/2016 at 10:20 pm

      What gives you the idea that I, am superior over anybody for that matter, I was talking about Hillary Clinton? Clyde, I honestly think you are a racist. For your info, my daughter has three kids for a Black man. I don’t know where you are coming from with your racist remarks. You must be in the same category as Potamey Reid back in the days in Guyana, pardon if I spelled his name incorrectly but, I have no respect for what he stood for, even in those days.

      Clyde, you don’t even know me and you have the temerity to put a label on me, you are a pathetic racist and a disenfranchised loser, who lives in the past. If I ever hear from you again , it would be too soon. And more thing, I am a Bernie Sanders supporter and in Guyana, the P.P.P. WAS MY PARTY OF CHOICE. I WAS A RED GUARD AS A TEENAGER, IN JAGAN’S PARTY.

      • De castro  On 03/25/2016 at 6:11 am

        Absolutely hilarious laughter
        Red guard in Jagans party.
        (Gestapo) chuckle chuckle !
        My twin brother was also a
        Political activist in Daguiars
        UF…youth arm. He eventually
        ended in Canada as a trade unionist and political activist
        My other brother in Trinidad
        who supported Cheddi and later
        Walter Rodney. Burnham made
        sure there were no dissidents.
        Power of arrogance in most
        dictatorships—Cuba Ven
        Russia et al
        Today things are very much the
        However some question if we
        have real ‘freedom’ to achieve
        /live our dreams or achieve our
        potential in our democracies.
        However we have one option
        If we cannot change situation
        we do the British thing…
        Walk the talk
        Or we ourselves change😈😇

        Gospel according to Saint kamtan😇

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/30/2016 at 4:29 pm

    Someone in Calgary, Alberta, Canada wrote: Nice piece of work Clyde.. I did not know all this history.. Very well documented. I hope people will read and educate themselves.

    Thanks for sharing. Do you mind if I forward to some of my high school friends in USA and Canada. I am sure they do not know of Sir James.

    My response: Certainly, they need to acquaint themselves with Guyanese Online

  • Clyde Duncan  On 01/31/2016 at 2:33 am

    Somebody had to get the last word: Clyde; I would suggest that there are equal numbers of British, German, Jewish, Canadians and all countries who should be thinking in a more adult and multicultural way. We are all people as you say.

    • De castro  On 01/31/2016 at 5:52 am

      One people one nation one destiny.
      Our legacy.


  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/21/2016 at 2:29 am

    Hi Clyde, Just yesterday I was talking about the failure of the Federation with Selwyn Collins in Brooklyn and made the same point you did: if Britain had wanted the West Indies Federation to last it would not have allowed Jamaica and Trinidad to get independence as separate nations.

    Regards – Gerry

    • De castro  On 02/21/2016 at 3:40 am

      Not wishing to defend the British political thinking at the time let’s not think backwards on the mistakes
      of past and look to solutions for the future…..
      The future of the English speaking carribean is intertwined/interlinked with USA …. if only by language.
      The future of Guyana may also be included in this respect….their diaspora living proof.
      However given the geopolitical differences the economics of the region must remain global.
      Cuba is already on its way to becoming another American state,…hopefully unlike Puerto Rico
      with right to vote in USA election. Dominican Republic is almost an american state already.
      Most of English speaking carribean and others would be better off aligning with USA but
      as suggested ….a referendum of remaining independent or joining USA/EU/Latin America.

      Most of north america are English speaking ….ex British colonies.
      Most of south are Spanish speaking……Ex Spanish colonies.
      The north south divide syndrome.
      My vision my dream….
      United states of north america
      United states of south america
      We already have the united states of Europe…..united states of ASIA led by China India…with the silk road
      reincarnated by rail….14 days from east to west is a reality today.
      The future for a united world is possible …..we must start thinking global and act local.
      Forever the optimist.
      One world ….one love…..one people one destiny.
      Our legacy
      Lord kamtan

  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/21/2016 at 7:32 am

    We have more in common with Canada and Canada is NOT interested in colonizing our territories …

    • De castro  On 02/21/2016 at 8:34 am

      Agree in the short term alignment with
      Canada the first choice.
      In the long term still feel USA will be a
      better choice.
      Canada now has a liberal government
      in the ‘Trudeau’ dynasty.
      Canada will suffer great indebtedness
      under liberals…from 19 to 90+ billions.
      Can 35m people afford this. Doubt it !
      Even Canada will be better aligned to
      USD ….not unlike 27 members of EU.
      Is USA trying to colonise your territories? Doubt it….are they trying
      to colonise Cuba or DR or ?
      Doubt…accept maybe economically
      but certainly not possible politically
      unless the peoples of the region want
      it. It’s simple if not sure a referandum
      will resolve the matter.
      Given the choice between USA and Canada know which most would choose….main reason USD V CAD
      no contest 🏏
      UK will remain in EU but will later
      wish to leave if the trade imbalance
      is shifted …50%EU 50% ROW
      IN EU….later who knows?
      Myself will be voting out now not

    • De castro  On 03/25/2016 at 4:15 am

      English speaking Carribean certainly
      will choose Canada or USA
      Spanish speaking may also do so.
      So give the people that choice.
      USA V Canada alignment.
      Know which I would choose…
      Same option EU UK in v out
      Let the people decide !
      Cameron has gambled his political
      career over the issue.
      Boris Johnson also
      Both losers…as politicians
      voters the winners.
      Not long to 23 June
      Am on the NO side…out.
      The Brits will never be Europeans.
      But will remain Great Britain aka
      UK with the old witch as head of
      God save the queen
      Hey she is in her 90th and 64th
      year on throne…
      Long live the queen
      And I ain’t no Royalist fan.
      Too many trough suckers in her
      brood…get my drift

      Lord Kamtan of Cherin Andalusia south Spain EU by appointment

  • Leslie Chin  On 04/03/2016 at 12:22 pm


    This might be the cause that can unite the Caribbean Islands. What is needed is a class action suit in the International World Court and the UN to redress colonisation and slavery. This is a cause the newly independent micro states in the UN would support like they did at the COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015. The UN should put this subject on their agenda.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 04/15/2016 at 3:45 pm

    I read this weekly column by Uri Avnery “religiously” – he is a 93-year old atheist in Tel Aviv, Israel. This week, I could not help thinking of the Caribbean and Guyana; and what we could achieve – If only ….. We Could Square The Circle??

    Squaring the Circle


    Uri Avnery

    I LIKE the President of the State of Israel, Reuven (“Rubi”) Rivlin. I like him very much.

    This may seem a bit strange, since he is a man of the Right. He is a member of the Likud party. He believes in what is called in Hebrew “the whole of the Land of Israel”.

    However, he is a very humane person. He is kind and unassuming, His family has been rooted in Palestine for many generations. He sees himself as the president of all Israelis, including the Arab citizens.

    I believe that he harbours a secret contempt for Binyamin Netanyahu and the likes of him. So how was he elected president? The President of Israel is chosen in a secret ballot of the Knesset. I strongly suspect that he did not get all the votes of the Likud, but was elected by the votes of the Left.

    THIS WEEK, President Rivlin published a peace plan. That is not a usual act by a president, whose office is mainly ceremonial.

    His plan is based on a federation of two “entities” – a Zionist-Jewish entity and an Arab-Palestinian one.

    He did not go into detail. He obviously believes that at this stage it is better to float a general idea and get the people used to it. This may well be wise.

    However, it also makes it difficult to judge the plan seriously. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. It can be a very good plan or a very bad plan. Depends. Depends on the details.

    Yet the very fact that Rivlin published this idea is positive. In present-day Israel, ideas are frozen. This helps to entrench an atmosphere of resignation, indifference, even despair. “There is no solution” is a very general attitude, fostered by Netanyahu, who drew the convenient (for him) conclusion: “We shall forever live by the sword”.

    THE IDEA of a federation is not new. I myself have thought about it many times. (I must therefore ask for forgiveness if I repeat things I have mentioned before.)

    Before the 1948 war, some of us believed that the Hebrews and the Arabs in this country could fuse into a new, joint nation. The war relieved me of this notion. From what I witnessed, I drew the conclusion that we have in this country two distinct nations, and that any realistic solution must be based on this fact.

    Immediately after that war, in early 1949, a small group met to find a solution. The group included a Muslim and a Druze. It created what is now called the Two-state Solution in the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan, and perhaps beyond. Today this is an overwhelming world consensus.

    It was clear to us that two states in a small country like ours cannot exist side by side without very close cooperation between them. We considered whether to call this a federation, but decided not to do so, fearing that this would frighten both sides.

    Immediately after the 1956 war (in this country, we are always saying “immediately after the war”) we formed a much larger group which called itself “Semitic Action”. It included Nathan Yellin-Mor, the former commander of the underground (or terrorist) Lehi, known to the British as the “Stern Gang”, the writers Boaz Evron and Amos Kenan, and others.

    We devoted a whole year to producing a document, which, I believe, remains unparalleled to this day. In it we drew up a blueprint for the complete restructuring of the State of Israel, in all spheres of life. We called it the “Hebrew Manifesto”.

    This manifesto included a federation between the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, with the necessary joint institutions at the top. It also advocated the creation of a “Semitic Confederation” of all Arab states, Israel and perhaps also Turkey and Iran (which are not strictly Semitic countries, though they profess a religion with Semitic roots.)

    SINCE THEN, the idea of a federation or a confederation has come up at different times and in different circumstances, but has not taken roots.

    The terms themselves are imprecise. What is the difference between them? In different countries, they have different meanings. Russia is now officially a federation, though it is not clear what rights the components have. Switzerland calls itself a confederation. The German Bund is a “federal republic”. The European Union is for all practical purposes a confederation, though it is not called so.

    It is more or less accepted that a “federation” is a much closer union than a mere “confederation”. This was made clear by the American civil war, when the “federal” North was battling the “confederate” Southern states which tried to secede from the union, which was too close for their liking.

    But, as I said, these terms are very fluid. And they are not really important. It’s the substance that matters, and the substance necessarily varies from place to place, according to history and circumstances.

    FOR OUR country, the beauty of the idea lies in the fact that it squares the circle.

    What do both sides want?

    The Jews want a Jewish State, a state that is based on Jewish culture and history, speaks mainly Hebrew and is connected with the Jewish Diaspora. Except for a tiny little minority, this is an ideal common to all Jewish Israelis. Many Israelis would also like to keep the country, and especially the city of Jerusalem, united.

    The Palestinians want a free state of their own, at long last, where they will be their own masters, speak their own language, foster their own culture and religion, free from occupation, under their own law.

    A (con)federation can solve this seeming contradiction, squaring the circle. It would allow both peoples to be free in their own states, with their own identities, national flags and anthems, governments and soccer teams, while at the same time saving the unity of the country and solving their joint problems in unity and close cooperation. The border between them will necessarily be open for free passage of people and goods, without walls.

    I am no expert on Northern America, but it seems to me that something like that already exists between the US, Canada and Mexico (at least until Donald Trump becomes president), in spite of the cultural and social differences between the three peoples.

    PRESIDENT RIVLIN should not be satisfied with airing the idea. He should do something about it, despite the limitations of his office.

    I would suggest that he set up a high-level conference of experts to meet in his residence and start to go into the details, in order to find out how this could look in practical terms.

    I don’t believe that either side will be content with an “entity”. Jewish Israelis will not give up the statehood of Israel, nor will the Palestinians be content with anything less than a “state”.

    First and foremost there is the problem of the army. Will there be two separate armies, with some apparatus of coordination – unlike the very unequal relationship that exists now between the Israeli army and the Palestinian “security force”? Can there be one unitary army? Or something in-between?

    That’s a hard one. A much easier one is health. There, a lot of cooperation already exists between the peoples, with Arab doctors and medics working in Israeli hospitals, and Israeli doctors advising Palestinian colleagues in the occupied territories.

    What about education? In each of the two states, education will naturally be based on its own language, culture, history and traditions. In each state, all pupils must learn the language of the other side, much as Swiss pupils learn one of the national languages other than their own.

    That is not enough. On both sides, teachers must be re-educated, learn at least the basics of the other side’s culture and religion. And textbooks must be freed of the traces of hatred, and present a true, objective narrative of the events of the last 120 years.

    The economy poses serious problems. The average income of an Israeli is 20 times (yes, no mistake. Not 120%, but 2000%) larger than the average income of a Palestinian in the occupied territories. There must be a federal effort to narrow this incredible gap.

    Of course, not everything can be planned and decreed. Life will take over. Israeli businesspeople who want to prosper in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, for example, will look for Palestinian partners, and Palestinian entrepreneurs could use Israeli expertise and capital to do business in the Yemen and Morocco. Friendships will be struck. Here and there, inter-marriages will occur. (No, God forbid, strike the last sentence out!!!)

    Mutual contacts have their own logic. Wherever muftis and rabbis meet, they discover the incredible similarities between Islam and Judaism (much more than between either of them and Christianity). Money bridges the gap between businesspeople. Academics easily find a common language.

    There will, of course, be immense difficulties. What about the settlers? Can Palestinians be persuaded to let some of them stay? In exchange, can Israelis allow some of the refugees to return? I trust life.

    Can Jerusalem remain united as the capital of both states and of the federal institutions?

    Where will be the borders between the jurisdiction of the two national governments and the federal institutions?

    I CANNOT overstate the importance of the role President Rivlin can play in all this.

    Just by inviting experts to his residence and playing host to their theoretical deliberations, he can send a clear signal, without compromising himself.

    The deliberations themselves can have a strong mental influence, change the atmosphere, revive hope, create optimism.

    Rubi Rivlin is an optimist by nature. So am I.

    Without optimism, nothing will change for the better.

    The President can show to normal, decent people on both sides: yes, the circle can be squared!

    • De castro  On 04/15/2016 at 6:05 pm

      Sorry too many words to make sense of for me…it’s not just Jews v Muslims
      it is tribal.
      And am no fan of wars past present
      or future…also the political differences
      are too complex in Mid East.
      One German journalist recently shared
      an opinion of how to defeat IS.
      As its tribal between Sheite and Sunni
      back one to defeat other.
      This guy lived with IS rebels for three
      months. Was interviewed on BBC
      TV but sorry cannot recall his name.
      Tribal differences have existed since
      Adam/Eve were created and it remains
      today…religious differences its replacement. Today it’s political.
      What next ?
      Sorry if it reads negative but differences have a positive and negative influence.
      Am also optimistic for world peace.

      Lord kamtan

  • Clyde Duncan  On 04/15/2016 at 11:24 pm

    “Sorry too many words to make sense of for me ….” I believe this said it all – you could have stopped there.

    Look: Trying to get all parties together at once to discuss a “federation or con-federation” did not work the first time and probably will not work this time.

    But if, say, two, progressive leaders – who believe “charity begins at home”, for instance – if we get the two interested leaders to huddle and discuss a workable solution to building CARICOM and building on the synergy of the economies and culture of the region … keeping the noise and nonsense outside – that could get the ball rolling.

    Build it – before it is forced upon us – and the rest will come knocking.

    “The Circle Can Be Squared” – that is sound advice for leadership.

    • De castro  On 04/16/2016 at 5:00 am

      The circle cannot be squared.
      Leaders ? Suggestion !
      Most politicians are opportunists today
      especially the Carib ones. Some even
      tin pot dictators…in their banana republics. If not manipulated by USA
      it’s some other “foreign” power.
      It’s not commies V capitalists any
      longer…it’s whoever pays the piper
      calls the time.
      That’s why I suggested a referandum
      to decide the issue…yesterday !
      Not tommorrow.
      What is UN doing about it ?
      Nothing !
      A defunct security council that is
      “Not fit for purpose”
      Scrap both and make both democratic.
      One nation one vote of its membership,
      Get the drift…
      CARICOM similarly.

      My spin
      Lord Kamtan

  • Leslie Chin  On 07/20/2016 at 4:14 am


    This report on the 2016 CARICOM summit shows some progress towards a Caribbean Single Market Economy (CSME). This could be a prelude to full integration given the political will.

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