BuzzFlash.com's World Media Watch
by Gloria R. Lalumia
WORLD MEDIA WATCH FOR DECEMBER 10, 2001
FOCUS ON THE MIDDLE EAST-Analysis and op ed from Europe and the Middle East.
1//The Guardian, UK-WHAT HOPE FOR THE MIDDLE EAST? ("The Observer asked leading Middle East experts for their views of the future.")
2//The Jerusalem Post, Israel-Opinion--AN APPEAL FOR INTERVENTION ("…our so-called "leaders" [today they are leaders only in the sense that they lead us further into hell], are caught up in a game that they started in 1982 in Beirut and have not yet finished.")
3//The Jerusalem Post, Israel-Opinion--ISRAEL AND THE WAR ON TERRORISM ("Arafat was transformed into a legitimate political figure aided by the Soviet Union's prominent role in the United Nations' anti-capitalist activists in the West, and by petrodollars.")
4//Ha'aretz, Israel-Behind the Headlines// NOW SHOWING ON PALESTINIAN TV: LESS INCITEMENT, MORE YASSER ARAFAT ("…During the first weeks of the intifada, Palestinian television broadcast such films for up to 14 hours a day. In addition, various other regional television stations, located in Egypt, Jordan and Syria broadcast the footage. After a relatively short while, those countries ceased from showing the films. Meanwhile, however, the Palestinian "incitement level" on television has had its ups and downs.")
5//Khaleej Times, United Arab Emirate-Editorial--SHARON'S DESIGNS ("Palestinian officials have correctly concluded that what is driving Ariel Sharon to destroy Yasser Arafat is really his fear that the Palestinian leader is serious about honouring his security commitments. What else can explain the Israeli decision to launch rocket strikes on Arafat's headquarters that came close to killing him just when Palestinian security forces were in the midst of an unprecedented crackdown on militants?")
6//The Egyptian Gazette, Egypt-Editorial-BACK FROM THE BRINK ("In plain terms, Sharon is jumping on the bandwagon of the US-led campaign against terrorism, by attempting to miscast the Palestinians and their leadership as terrorists. The world must be on its guard against these fallacies, if stability and eventually peace are to prevail across the Middle East.")
HOPE FOR THE MIDDLE EAST? -- Sunder Katwala
"This week's events will mean more bloodshed on both sides and a further erosion of the authority of Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, as Islamist groups increase Palestinian divisions and force the PA on the defensive. Israel's policies are accelerating the process, and while the US pendulum will probably swing back to the middle ground again this will not happen before more damage is done to the US' standing in the Arab and Muslim worlds...
Professor Anoush Ehteshami, Director of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, University of Durham
"Arafat's decision not to negotiate on the basis of the Camp David or Clinton proposals and instead to make war on Israel destroyed the peace process. Within Israel, he now has no credibility as a partner for peace. The militancy and incitement Arafat unleashed among Palestinians and Arabs generally reignited enough extremism to block negotiated settlement for many years. But Arafat will remain the Palestinian leader. Those advocating more unilateral Israeli concessions encourage him to continue violence by making it seem successful. Only if Arafat fears losing international support and his regime's destruction will he consider changing course. And perhaps not even then." Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Centre.
…Arafat faces a three pronged campaign against his authority. The first is from the relentless Sharon who will never accept a "viable" Palestinian state, and who appears to be trying to finish what he started in 1982: eliminating Arafat and the "infrastructure of Palestinian terror". The second is from Hamas and the Islamists who rejected Oslo and everything associated with it. The third is from the "Young Turks" in his own ranks, who will undermine any compromise with Israel that does not lead to its withdrawal to the 1967 borders, and/or the removal of all the members of the "Old Guards" around Arafat.
Given his predicament Arafat, notwithstanding international pressure, cannot and will not wage an all out war on the Islamists, risking civil war, because he does not see that Sharon can evolve as a credible interlocutor, and potential peace partner. Nor will he do that absent a political peace train led by an American conductor willing to be stern with all passengers, using a clear map indicating that the final stop is a station called 'viable Palestine'." Hisham Melhem, is the Washington D.C correspondent for the Beirut based As-Safir newspaper.
"The historical record shows that conflicts end not through clever schemas or extended negotiations but when one side loses - that is to say, when it no longer has the will to go on fighting. So it shall be in this conflict. The main question is, which side will prevail? I bet on Israel for reasons ranging from the nature of its founding ideology to its military power. The Palestinian will is precarious and could collapse speedily - within years rather than decades." Daniel Pipes, Director, Middle East Forum
December 9) - This is an appeal for immediate international intervention to stop the Palestinian and Israeli bloodshed. Both Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, our so-called "leaders" (today they are leaders only in the sense that they lead us further into hell), are caught up in a game that they started in 1982 in Beirut and have not yet finished.
They show no responsibility whatsoever for the lives of their peoples. The leaders of the United States, at the same time, are right now stuck with their own concept that terror can be uprooted only by force, a concept that Sharon is trying to implement in our region.
This is a dangerous escalation, as we are not the US and Afghanistan, but two peoples deeply interwoven in a very narrow and painful piece of land. There is no way for us to drive out the Palestinian people, just as there is no way for them to drive us out. But our "leaders" still behave as if this is their preferred option and we are all suffering the consequences.
The writer is a professor of behavioral sciences at Ben-Gurion University.
(December 9) - The most recent barbaric acts of terror in Jerusalem and Haifa require the United States and other Western nations to rethink the whole idea of the so-called "peace process" for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They must state without equivocation to the Palestinian Authority that for many years it has been harboring the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hizbullah and that Israel, just as America after September 11, has the right to use any means available, including armed force, in order to protect its civilian population. Western peacemakers must recall that Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat used to be terrorist No. 1 before Osama bin Laden took over that title. Arafat was transformed into a legitimate political figure aided by the Soviet Union's prominent role in the United Nations' anti-capitalist activists in the West, and by petrodollars. The money poured into the Palestinian cause over the years could have created a prosperous society and made every family living in Palestine well off. Instead, it was used to reinforce terrorist bases and to spread violence. Thousands of young people were trained for two intifadas and indoctrinated with the ideology of Hamas and Hizbullah, which insists that Israel has no right to exist and that the only good Jew is a dead Jew. Their mentality, especially of the suicide bombers, is the same as that of the terrorists who destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center and crashed into the Pentagon.
There exist two possible solutions. One is for the US and its allies in the anti-terrorist coalition to direct equal efforts to the elimination of both terrorist centers - bin Laden's al-Qaida and the Palestinian terrorist organizations. Some countries which now are counted as nominal members of the anti-terrorist coalition may jump ship, but this should not cause undue concern. The second possibility is simple: abandoning the defense of Israel and removing every single Jew to a safe haven somewhere in the US, Canada, or Europe and spending on their resettlement the billions of dollars now spent every year in Asia and Africa on education and the fight against hunger, AIDS, tuberculosis, and other social ills. Keep in mind, however, that in place of Israel - the only democracy in the Middle East, despite all the polemics on this subject - there will be created a breeding ground of terrorism that will make repetitions of September 11 a commonplace occurrence all over our small planet.
There is, of course, a third possibility. To continue the humbug of the peace process, arming Egypt and Israel's other neighbors on the sly, and waiting for new ovens of Auschwitz to darken the land of Israel with their smoke. Or might "progress" produce something even more terrible? The 21st century began not with the New Year fireworks in Times Square, but with the flames of the Twin Towers. A quarter of a century ago Sakharov warned us: "The reality of the contemporary world is complex. It is a fantastic mix of tragedy, irreparable misfortune, apathy, prejudices, and ignorance, plus dynamism, selflessness, hope, and intelligence. The future may be even more tragic. Or it may be more worthy of human beings - better and more intelligent. Or it may not be at all. It depends on all of us - people in every country in the world. It depends on our wisdom, our freedom from illusion and prejudice, our readiness to work, to practice intelligent austerity, and on our kindness and breadth as human beings."
(The writer is a human rights activist and widow of Nobel Prize winner Andrei Sakharov.)
the Headlines// NOW SHOWING ON PALESTINIAN TV: LESS INCITEMENT,
One of the constant demands made by Israel of the Palestinian Authority is to "stop the incitement in the Palestinian media." The meaning behind that demand is primarily to stop the broadcasting of brief film footage, shown frequently on Palestinian television, which includes pictures of confrontations between Israel Defense Forces soldiers and Palestinians. These brief films often include gruesome pictures, showing close-up shots of battered corpses and injured children, with patriotic war songs playing in the background.
During the first weeks of the intifada, Palestinian television broadcast such films for up to 14 hours a day. In addition, various other regional television stations, located in Egypt, Jordan and Syria broadcast the footage. After a relatively short while, those countries ceased from showing the films. Meanwhile, however, the Palestinian "incitement level" on television has had its ups and downs.
After the Dolphinarium suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, the number of hours in which "inciting" films were shown was drastically reduced. So too has been the trend in the last few days. Instead of those short films, Palestinian television has been showing footage in support of "Abu Amar," or Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat, who is currently embroiled in one of the most serious crises of his career. In addition, the Palestinians are celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in which they fast all day -- something that impedes their ability to demonstrate.
Another message emphasized in the recent broadcasts on Palestinian television is the obligation to obey decisions made by the PA leadership, and the need to preserve national unity. Last Thursday, and over the weekend, there were broadcasts of interviews with Palestinian passers-by. One man said, "All of the allegations against President Abu Amar are attacks against the entire Palestinian people," and stressed that Arafat and the PA leadership were the sole representatives of the Palestinians. "We tell you, Abu Amar, to continue with your ways because we are behind you, for the country and for Jerusalem."
However, pictures of the conflict have not completely disappeared. On Thursday, for example, such film footage was broadcast along with pictures of Temple Mount, to the tune of patriotic songs. In the afternoon, Palestinian television called upon citizens to attend a mass rally in Gaza, termed "a renewal of the faith and loyalty" in Arafat.
PALESTINIAN officials have correctly concluded that what is driving Ariel Sharon to destroy Yasser Arafat is really his fear that the Palestinian leader is serious about honouring his security commitments. What else can explain the Israeli decision to launch rocket strikes on Arafat's headquarters that came close to killing him just when Palestinian security forces were in the midst of an unprecedented crackdown on militants? The official Israeli justification for the attacks is that Arafat has not been doing enough to rein in the radicals, and that the televised raids on Hamas and Islamic Jihad hideouts were a sham. Implicit in the Israeli explanation is that, with the sword of Damocles hanging over his head, the Palestinian leader will now go all out to round up the people wanted by Israel. But there are glaring contradictions in this argument of the Sharon government, which is obsessed with removing Arafat as if all its security problems will somehow disappear with the Palestinian leader's departure, and Israel and its Arab neighhours could then live happily ever after.
It is as clear as daylight to all sides that the suicide bombers have nothing to do with Fatah, hence the link between suicide bombing and the Palestinian Authority is not even tenuous at best. For another, the simultaneous acts of pressuring Arafat to crack down on radicals and strafing his offices from the air simply undermine his authority in the eyes of the Palestinian people and indeed the whole world. Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat hit the nail on the head when he said, "Sharon wants to destroy the Palestinian Authority and Yasser Arafat and the peace process because it is not in his interest to maintain quiet and move on to implementation of the Mitchell report and reopen peace negotiations." With the US for the first time sending an unbiased, business-minded mediator to the region in the shape of Anthony Zinni, the Israeli leader has realised that his moment of truth is fast approaching. Soon he could be left with very little cover for his policy of expanding Jewish settler colonies on occupied territories and frequent military incursions deep into Palestinian self-rule areas. If only Zinni's political bosses in Washington could see through Sharon's plan.
BACK FROM THE BRINK
MULTILATERAL efforts are in full swing to bring the Middle East from the brink. The endeavours have been triggered by last week's attacks against the Palestinian self-rule areas, the fiercest since the eruption of the Intifada in September 2000.
Sensing the serious implications of the latest escalation of violence, Egypt is pursuing high-profile efforts to keep peace hopes alive. Egypt recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv last year in protest against Israel's excessive use of force against the Palestinians. However, on seeing that the situation was taking a turn to the worse, Egypt sent its Foreign Minister Maher to Tel Aviv on the first visit by a top official to the Jewish state in years. Maher held a flurry of talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials on how to defuse tensions and return to the negotiating table.
The UN and the European Union are strongly contributing to crisis-management efforts in the Middle East. No-one, not even Israel, stands to gain from the descent of Middle East into fresh turbulence and chaos. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has taken his brutal crackdown on the Palestinians to appalling heights by calling his recent attacks against the Palestinians as a war on terror. His aim is to drum up world support for his widely condemned clampdown on the Palestinian Uprising against Israeli occupation. In plain terms, Sharon is jumping on the bandwagon of the US-led campaign against terrorism, by attempting to miscast the Palestinians and their leadership as terrorists. The world must be on its guard against these fallacies, if stability and eventually peace are to prevail across the Middle East.
There is a broad consensus that the way out of the current vicious circle of violence lies in the honest and unscrupulous implementation of previously signed peace pacts between the Palestinians and Israelis. Mediation efforts over the past months have also yielded blueprints, mainly the Mitchell report and a cease-fire brokered by George Tenet, the chief of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
For its part, the Palestinian Authority has pledged readiness to comply with all pacts. The Sharon government has yet to reciprocate the same desire and abandon the notion that "might -is-right". What the Middle East badly needs in order to steer back from the verge are bona-fide acts. The days ahead will show how this crucial fact is heeded.
Help keep BuzzFlash Buzz'n!
Contribute to BuzzFlash and Get One of Our Fancy BuzzFlash Premiums!
We Can Also Ship Premiums as Holiday Gifts!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
otherwise noted, all original