The Biden administration has announced that it supports “The Occupation.”
No, not that “occupation,” it’s the British-American occupation of territory which belongs to the nation of Mauritius.
Yes, the same Biden administration that opposes Israel’s “occupation” of Judea-Samaria and that demands creation of a Palestinian Arab state there, has now publicly declared its support for the colonialist, imperialist, and possibly racist occupation by Britain of islands belonging to the Indian Ocean country of Mauritius.
It’s an occupation in which the United States is complicit because the British allow the U.S. to maintain a military base there. So, since the U.S. benefits from this particular occupation, suddenly all those high-sounding principles that our State Department regularly hurls as accusations against Israel— “self-determination,” “illegal occupation” and all the rest—are out the window.
Bernie Sanders. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. J Street. Ben & Jerry’s. Not a word from any of them about The Occupation—that is, when a Democratic administration is the party to blame. They’re only interested when they can blame Israel.
The name “Mauritius” is familiar to those who know the history of England’s attempts to keep Jews out of the Land of Israel. In 1940, some 1,600 Jews whom the British caught trying to enter the ancient Jewish homeland were deported to Mauritius, which is 1,200 miles off the southeastern coast of Africa.
Mauritius was just one of the many small countries around the world that British colonialists illegally occupied and exploited for centuries. The British authorities chose that remote island for the Jewish deportees in the hope that the world would forget about them. The fact that Mauritius is so remote has no doubt contributed to the ability of the current British and American governments to keep their ongoing Occupation out of sight.
But no longer. A series of recent diplomatic exchanges and little-publicized United Nations actions has shed light on the whole sordid story of the Occupied Mauritian Territory and its hypocritical enablers.
French racist colonialists invaded and occupied Mauritius in 1715. British racist imperialists conquered it in 1810. The newly acquired territory included a series of islands called the Chagos Archipelago.
In 1966, the British allowed the United States to build a military base there. But the world was changing, the British empire was crumbling, and in 1968 London granted Mauritius its independence.
But the Brits kept the Chagos Archipelago. Not that they ever asked the indigenous inhabitants what they wanted. “Self-determination” is only for Palestinian Arabs. The black and brown residents of the Chagos Archipelago were not only ignored, but persecuted. Between 1968 and 1973, the British violently expelled all 1,500 of the native Chagossians.
According to documents revealed in a lawsuit by one of those deportees, the U.S. and the United Kingdom agreed at the time that it would be “awkward” if the expulsions became known, so they suppressed all publicity about it. In the pre-internet age, colonialists got away with a lot of stuff like that.
In 2019, the United Nations General Assembly voted, 116 to 6, that Britain had to leave the Chagos Archipelago within six months. The British ignored the UN resolution. Can you imagine how the international community—including Britain!— would respond if Israel ignored some six-month deadline set by the United Nations?
The Washington Post this week pressed the Biden administration to explain its position. The State Department spokesman responded that the U.S. “unequivocally supports UK sovereignty” in the Occupied Mauritian Territory. He said: “The specific arrangement involving the facilities on Diego Garcia is grounded in the uniquely close and active defense and security partnership between the United States and the UK.”
Oh, I see. If an Occupation is useful to the Biden administration, then it’s perfectly fine. If nobody is talking about the Occupied Mauritian Territory in trendy Manhattan cocktail parties or on MSNBC, then J Street stays silent, and Ben & Jerry’s can continue selling its ice cream to the personnel in that Occupation Military Base.
Nobody is demanding a “right of return” for Chagossians to go back to their archipelago. Nobody claims that the British and American governments are in danger of “losing their souls” because of their Occupation of other people’s land. Nobody is calling for boycotts, or divestments, or sanctions against the Occupation Regime. Nobody is criticizing the American military “settlement” in Chagossian territory.
File this one under “H” for hypocrisy. There could be no more blatant example.
Stephen M. Flatow is an attorney in New Jersey and the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.”