Salam Dhaka has alerted the bangladeshi blogosphere to the appointment of a zionist, amongst others, as a PR man for Bangladesh. Richard Benkin has a certain way with words. And his talents have no doubt impressed the government sufficiently for him to have acquired this 5k usd per month contract. Richard penned a letter in Jewsweek sometime back entitled “Dear Bangladesh.” Full of sophistry, the article tried to woo Bangladesh into recognising the state of Israel. In the article, Benkin cleverly but superficially abstracted historical features of the two countries and issues affecting them, stripped them of all political , contextual and historical analysis - and then presented the two countries as if they were long lost brothers. Most insulting to anyone who subscribes to any notion of historical truth is how Benkin manages to distort a fundamental fact: that Bangladesh represented a resurgence against domination whilst Israel represents a wretched attempt at retaining western domination in a third world area.

And perhaps this is precisely why the Bangladeshi government want to employ such a clever scribe. Who better to put the right spin on things than Richard Benkin - someone whose mind is able to conjure up common cause between Israel and Bangladesh? Self-justification is at the heart of Israeli propaganda. No matter at what cost. Perhaps the bangladeshi powers that be feel its time to employ some of the same given that the elections are around the corner?

I can’t helping thinking whether there is more to it. Is Bangladesh preparing to recognise Israel as Morshed Khan seemed to hint last year? Are there trade-offs to be gained in terms of further American trade? In other words, can foreign policy principles be bought? We will have to wait and see. Israel, incidentally, was one of the first countries in the world to recognise Bangladesh. At the time Sheikh Mujib took a principled stance and refused any kind of relationship. ( It is worth bearing in mind that the Arab states dragged their feet on recognising Bangladesh - paying heed to the sensitivities of Bhutto. Indeed they only recognised Bangladesh after Bhutto won a major, and some would say unforgiveable, concession from Mujib re the trial of Pakistani soldiers for war crimes).