Cuba on Israel: Policies and Statements
In September 1973, Fidel Castro embraced Moammar Qaddafi and Yasser Arafat at the Fourth Conference of Non-Aligned Nations in Algiers, turned his back on Israel with whom his government had enjoyed "good commercial links," and never looked back. (1) Speaking to the First Party Congress of the Cuban Communist Party in 1975, Fidel Castro declared that "Yasser Arafat is a man we deeply love and admire and to whom we have always shown our solidarity." Castro also unequivocally proclaimed during his speech that "the starting point of Cuba's foreign policy...is the subordination of Cuban positions to the needs of the struggle for socialism and for the national liberation of peoples."(2)Castro has implemented his policy by abetting, training, and providing safe haven in Cuba for hundreds of Palestinian and other Arab terrorists since the late 1960s; deploying Cuban combat forces and military advisers against Israel in the 1970s and into the 1980s; and conducting an unrelenting diplomatic and media barrage to anathematize Israel and demonize Israeli leaders from Menachem Begin to Ariel Sharon. (3) Consider, for example, the following actions against Israel in the name of Cuban revolutionary solidarity with Arab peoples over the last four decades:· After the 1967 Six-Day War, the Cuban ambassador to the United Nations [now president of Cuba's legislative assembly], Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, condemned "[Israeli] armed aggression against the Arab peoples...by a most treacherous...surprise attack in the Nazi manner" (4)
· In 1973, Fidel Castro severed diplomatic ties between Cuba and Israel (5)· In 1974, Castro sent a Cuban tank brigade to the Golan Heights to combat "Zionist barbarism in Syria" (6)
· In 1975, Cuba co-sponsored United Nations Resolution 3379 declaring that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination" (7)· By 1976, hundreds of Palestinian fighters had arrived in Cuba for training, and by 1978, Cuban military advisers were providing instruction at PLO camps in southern Lebanon (8)
· In 1991, Cuba voted (alongside Iraq, Iran, and Libya) against U.N. Resolution 46/86 which revoked the 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism (9)· In 2001, Fidel Castro called on the delegates attending the U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa to "put an end to the ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people," a "dreadful genocide perpetrated...against our Palestinian brothers by extreme right [Israeli] leaders...in alliance with the hegemonic superpower [the United States]"
Yasser Arafat himself acknowledged the PLO's indebtedness to Cuba when he visited the island in 1974. He expressed his gratitude to "the people of Cuba, their revolutionary leadership, the Cuban people, [and] the Communist Party of Cuba [who] have made us feel that we form part of one long worldwide struggle...against Zionism...Comrade Fidel said that the Palestinian Revolution can count on the full support and aid of the Cuban Revolution." (11) In 1981, Arafat reiterated his thanks to "Cuba, the Cuban leadership, the Cuban people, and the [Cuban] Communist Party and government, especially dear Comrade Fidel Castro, who supports us." (12)
Castro's regime continues to lobby at the U.N. and other international fora in support of the PLO's positions, vehemently denounces Tel Aviv's actions in the West Bank and Gaza as constituting "genocide" and a "holocaust," and distorts the complexities of the Arab-Israeli conflict through its coverage and portrayal of Israel and Israelis in Cuba's state-controlled press.As evinced by its editorial policy, Granma (the Cuban government's official newspaper) effectively fosters anti-Semitic public opinion among its readers not only on the island but throughout Latin America and the Third World as well. Moreover, the Cuban government's official pronouncements since the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada in September 2000 are unambiguous. Fidel Castro is promoting an anti-Israeli, anti-American position on the Middle East. "The government of the United States," Castro proclaimed recently, "[has] no legal or moral pretext whatsoever for attacking Iraq, and even less so when the world can plainly see that a true genocide is being committed against the Palestinian people, and the state of Israel has an arsenal of hundreds of nuclear weapons and the means to transport them, supplied by the United States." (13)
Official Cuban Policy Statements on the Israeli-Palestinian ConflictThe violent confrontations that have been taking place in Jerusalem and other important Palestinian cities since September 28  are...the outcome of the ferocious repression initially unleashed by the Israeli police against Palestinian protesters who demanded the return of the eastern portion of Jerusalem, illegally occupied by Israel.Cuba energetically condemns the provocations and acts of barbarity perpetrated by the [Israeli] forces against the Palestinian protesters and civilian population, with the evident consent of the Israeli government. Cuba demands an immediate cessation to the brutal and criminal actions by Israeli police and military forces...Cuba reaffirms its total and unshirking solidarity with the Palestinian people in their just struggle for the establishment of an independent and sovereign state and for the return of all occupied Arab territories; exhorts the international community to energetically denounce these crimes; and pronounces itself decidedly against the dilatory tactics used by Israel to continue imposing its arrogant annexationist policy in violation of the most basic norms of coexistence and international law, for which it has always counted on Washington's unrestricted support. (14)______________________________________________
The Israeli Government's disregard for life and the most basic rights of the Palestinian people is overwhelming.
Cuba advocates and demands strong international action to put an end to the genocide currently committed in the bewildered eyes of humankind against the Arab-Palestinian population of the occupied territories...
It is high time that Israel ceased its heinous occupation of the Arab territories and its unpunished encroachment on the most basic rights of the Palestinian people, starting with the right to life. (15)
Cuba reiterates its full support for the heroic struggle of the Arab peoples, in particular that of the Palestinians, against Israeli occupation and aggression, and declares its solidarity with their resistance and defiance.
Cuba is appealing for more energetic action from the international community, and in particular from the UN Security Council, to stop the massacre and the genocidal actions of the Israeli army.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba totally condemns the aggression being committed against the heroic Palestinian people and their authorities...[and demands] an immediate end to the crimes and abuse perpetrated by the Israeli occupation forces. (16)
In the face of the barbarism unleashed in Palestine with the invasion by Israeli troops...[Cuba seeks] an immediate end to the [Israeli] aggression and to promote effective solidarity with the Palestinian people.
It is shameful for humanity that...genocides like this one are taking place...Not even the organization created to prevent and stop such crimes, the United Nations, is capable of imposing its authority, trapped as it is under the control of the imperialist superpower [the United States], that utilizes it only in benefit of its hegemonic interests.
An end to the [Israeli] crimes and abuses must be demanded.An end to the persecution and continuing threat of death against Yasser Arafat must be demanded.The immediate withdrawal of the occupying [Israeli] troops must be demanded.
The complicity of the U.S. government that politically and materially supports the Israeli aggressor must be denounced. (17)
The state-sponsored terrorism unleashed by Israel must cease. The flagrant, en masse, and systematic violation of human rights, including the Palestinian people's right to life, must be brought to an end. The repression, torture, and demolition of homes must stop. The illegal occupation of Palestinian land has to end.
Innocent Israeli civilians are also lamentable victims of the spiral of violence and terror caused by their government's policy.
[Cuba] demands that the government of Israel immediately withdraw its troops...[and] put an end to the repression of the Palestinian people.
Cuba will not yield in its denunciation of the crimes committed against the Arab peoples and in particular against the Palestinian people.
Portrayal of Israel and Israelis in Granma, the Official Newspaper of the Cuban Government<http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/04/09/interna/lu5-2.jpg>
"Sharon announces continuation of Palestinian holocaust" (19)Granma, 9 April 2002<http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/03/31/interna/vi5-1.jpg>
"Terrorist on the loose but no one is looking for him" (20) Granma, 31 March 2002<http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/04/04/interna/mi4-3.jpg>
"The poster says it all. It is a truth that travels the world." (21) Granma, 4 April 2002<http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/08/05/interna/do4-2.jpg>
"Israeli rage against the Palestinian populationhas been the cause of the new escalation of violence." (22) Granma, 5 August 2002
"Israeli soldiers continue mowing down Palestinian lives, with endless hatred." (23) Granma, 9 August 2002
"The Israeli army used projectiles containing nails in its new aggression against Gaza." (24) Granma, 30 August 2002
"Israel destroyed their home out of hatred." (25)Granma, 27 January 2003
1. See Le Monde (Paris), September 11, 1973, p. 5 and Granma Weekly Review [Granma's official English edition], September 16, 1973. According to Havana's minister to Israel at the time, Ricardo Subirana y Lobo, "commercial links were good" between the two states. Israelis had also shared their agricultural expertise with Cubans. See David J. Kopilow, Castro, Israel, and the PLO (Washington, DC: CANF, 1984), pp.15, 20. On Israel's goodwill policy toward the Cuban revolution prior to Castro's decision to break diplomatic ties, see Maurice Halperin, The Taming of Fidel Castro (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), Chapter 29, especially pp. 242-244.2. Fidel Castro, report to the First Party Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, Granma Weekly Review, January 4, 1976, p. 10.3. In January 1966, Castro hosted the Tri-Continental Conference in Havana, an event that brought together more than 500 representatives of international extremist groups, including the Palestine Liberation Organization, to coordinate revolutionary efforts on a global scale. Within ten months of the conference, guerrilla training camps had opened in Cuba. For a documented introduction to Castro's support for Palestinian armed struggle and terrorism against Israel since the late 1960s, see David J. Kopilow, Castro, Israel, and the PLO. Also, Domingo Amuchástegui, Cuba in the Middle East (Coral Gables, FL: Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, 1999) <http://www.state.gov/p/wha/ci/14745.htm>; Focus on Cuba, "Cuba in the Middle East: 2000-2002," <http://ctp.iccas.miami.edu/FOCUS_Web/Issue30.htm>; and Eugene Pons, Castro and Terrorism: A Chronology (Coral Gables, FL: Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, 2001) <http://www.miami.edu/iccas/terrorism_email.pdf>. For political cartoons in Cuban state press associating Menachem Begin with Nazism and sevility to U.S. interests, see Kopilow, pp. 22-23. For recent depictions of Ariel Sharon, see Notes 19 and 20 below. On the contemporary plight of Jews in Cuba as well as themes germane to this report, see articles and editorials by FrontPage Magazine columnist Myles Kantor online at <http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/authors.asp?ID=5>4. Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, statement at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, June 23, 1967. See Granma, June 24, 1967.5. Fidel Castro withdrew Cuban recognition for the state of Israel while in Algiers on September 10, 1973. See Granma Weekly Review, September 16, 1973.
6. In a March 31, 1974 interview on U.S. television, then Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan stated that as many as 3,000 Cuban soldiers were present in Syria. See Kopilow, Castro, Israel, and the PLO, p. 9. For his part, Castro boasted on December 22, 1975 that "...it is no secret to anyone that at any given moment of danger and threat to the Republic of Syria, our men were in Syria." See Granma Weekly Review, January 11, 1976, p. 5. "Zionist Barbarism in Syria" was the October 28, 1973 Granma Weekly Review headline (p.8) on the Yom Kippur War.7. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379, issued New York, 10 November 1975. For the complete text of the resolution and Cuba on record as a co-sponsor, go to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website at: <http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0jc50%20>
8. See Kopilow, Castro, Israel, and the PLO, especially pp. 8, 10. According to CIA estimates in 1976, Castro hosted some 300 Palestinians in the island's guerrilla training camps. See John Maclean, "Cuba sparks Latin terror," The Chicago Tribune, June 18, 1981. In 1982, Israeli soldiers captured Palestinian fighters in Lebanon who had received advanced training in special operations and explosives in Cuba. See Neil C. Livingstone and David Halevy, Inside the PLO (New York: William Morrow, 1990), pp. 141-142.9. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 46/86, issued New York, 16 December 1991. For the complete text of the resolution and Cuba on record against the revocation of 3379, go to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website at: <http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH0jc50%20>
10. Fidel Castro, "Address at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism," Durban, South Africa, September 1, 2001. Quoted from the official English version. See: <http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/discursos/2001/ing/f010901i.html%20>
11. See Yasser Arafat, public statement during official visit to Cuba in November 1974, Granma Weekly Review, November 24, 1974, p. 3.12. Yasser Arafat, interview, Granma, August 23, 1981.13. Fidel Castro, "Speech on the Current World Crisis, Havana, March 6, 2003." Quoted from the official English version (emphasis added). See: <http://www.cuba.cu/gobierno/discursos/2003/ing/f060303i.html>14. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, official statement issued Havana, 3 October 2000. See "Declaración del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de la República de Cuba," Granma, 4 October 2000. English translation by staff, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. <http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/4oct00/nacional/articulo11.html%20>
15. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, "Official
Statements: Press Release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," English version, 12 April 2001. http://www.cubaminrex.cu/versioningles/pressreleaseminrex.htm
16. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cuba, official statement issued Havana, 30 March 2002. See "Cuba demands an end to the isolation and hounding of Arafat," Granma Internacional, English ed., April 1, 2002. <http://www.granma.cu/ingles/abril02/14arafat-i.html%20>
17. Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada [President of Cuba's National Assembly], Letter to the President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), dated 4 April 2002. See "Parlamentarios de todo el mundo deben actuar con energía," Granma, 5 April 2002. English translation by staff, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. <http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/04/05/interna/articulo02.html%20>
18. Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla [Cuban ambassador to the United Nations], "Declaración del representante permanente de la República de Cuba ante la sesión de emergencia del Consejo de Seguridad sobre la situación en Oriente Medio, incluida la cuestión de Palestina," issued New York, 23 September 2002. English translation by staff, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. <http://www.cubaminrex.cu/politicaglobal/a_politico/declaracion%20bruno%20so
19. "Sharon anuncia continuación de holocausto palestino" linked with "Llamado urgente de Ramallah" and accompanying political cartoon, Granma, 9 April 2002. English translation by staff, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/04/09/ interna/articulo09.html <http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/04/09/%20interna/articulo09.html> and <http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/04/09/interna/articulo05.html%20>
20. Nidia Díaz, "El terrorista que anda suelto pero no buscan," with accompanying political cartoon, Granma, 31 March 2002. English translation by staff, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. <http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/03/31/interna/articulo02.html%20>
21. Roberto Molina, "Debate sobre agresión israelí interrumpe sesión de la CDH," accompanied by photograph with the caption "El cartel lo dice todo. Es una certeza que recorre el mundo," Granma, 4 April 2002. English translation by staff, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. <http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/04/04/interna/articulo01.html>
22. "Responsabilizan a Israel por escalada de la violencia," accompanied by photograph with the caption "La saña israelí contra la población palestina ha sido la causa de la nueva escalada de violencia," Granma, 5 August 2002. English translation by staff, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. <http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/08/05/interna/articulo06.html%20>
23. "Invade ejército israelí norte de la Franja de Gaza," accompanied by photograph with the caption "Los soldados israelíes continúan segando vidas palestinas, con odio sin fin," Granma, 9 August 2002. English translation by staff, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. <http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/08/09/interna/articulo05.html%20>
24. "Prosigue genocidio de Israel contra el pueblo palestino," accompanied by photograph with the caption "El ejército israelí utilizó en su nueva agresión a Gaza, proyectiles que contenían clavos," Granma, 30 August 2002. English translation by staff, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. <http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2002/08/30/interna/articulo04.html%20>
25. "Destrucción y muerte acompañan a elecciones israelíes," accompanied by photograph with the caption "Ahí estaba su casa, destruida por Israel por odio," Granma, 27 January 2003. English translation by staff, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami. <http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/2003/01/27/interna/articulo04.html>