GREAT BAY—Considering the concerns over the human rights record of the nation of Israel, why would the Caribbean seek closer economic and trade ties with such a country? That may be the view expressed by some who would have read of the representation of St. Maarten at a business forum hosted by Israel in Barbados last month.
Israel is seeking to forge closer ties with the Caribbean and to see where both the nation and the region could engage in business and trade. Some pundits have slammed Israel for what they deem as its poor human rights record in the ongoing conflict between them and the Palestinians. Both nations and allies of the Palestinians engage in an ongoing conflict over the prized Gaza strip of land that borders the countries.
Greg Arrindell of the Downstreet Business Council was invited and attended the conference. He is optimistic of good trade relations being developed with Israel and he is not fazed by the comments that some may have of seeking to develop a closer relationship with Israel. “We are people of belief, a spiritual belief who believe in God,” Arrindell noted, adding that the Israelis are descendants of the chosen people of God. He argued that now an opportunity is present for the Caribbean through a partnership with Israel and we should not miss out this opportunity.
According to Arrindell, the Caribbean has had close ties with Israel even before it became a nation in 1948. He also noted that St. Maarten has opened its borders to all other nations including the Arab race who are perceived enemies of Israel and St. Maarten at the same time can open up to Israel as well. He argued that local St. Martiners are struggling in St. Maarten and the partnership with Israel will provide opportunities for local to develop and reach higher levels of success.
According to Arrindell several areas were discussed at the business conference in Barbados. These include sustainability, development, security, technology, trade of food, construction and opportunity for aid. On the issue of security, Arrindell noted the focus was not just on defense, but cyber security, in which Israel has much success.
On the issue of food, Arrindell noted that Israel, despite the challenges has been able to develop agriculture rapidly and could share this expertise with the Caribbean. “They were able to become very creative in developing the necessary technology by also developing the necessary strategies to be able to provide food for themselves,” Arrindell said.