Let’s Not ignore Atwan’s Warning on Annapolis

Abdel Bari Atwan’s interview on Radio 702 earlier today summed up Annapolis: It is merely a fig-leaf for America’s preparation for war against Iran!

Did 702’s midday news anchor & host Chris Gibbons expect Atwan’s lack of enthusiasm for the much vaunted US sponsored "peace summit"? Perhaps he did, though I doubt it. And my reason for saying so is that 702, like most mainstream South African media is caught up in presenting so-called "balance" whenever the question of Palestine emerges.

To his credit, Gibbons hosted Robert Fisk a few days ago. Of course one is aware that Fisk is viewed as "persona non-grata" as far as the local Zionist lobby is concerned. In fact they vehemently oppose Fisk’s views being published as they also regard him as a peddlar of hate against Israel. The current letters pages in the Sunday Independent attests to this.

So in keeping with the Zionist lobby’s defence of Israel, one can be certain that their tactics of pressure, threats and other forms of intimidation will have been applied on 702. I can well imagine that they would have argued that Fisk is an anti-semite, a Jew-hater or worse, and that his views therefore would be biased against Israel thereby disqualifying him from being an objective commentator.

Given that on previous occassions such tactics have been used against media institutions to relent from being critical of Israeli policy and practises, expect that 702 would once again have come in the firing line for providing space to Fisk.

Well – many would say, so what? Its the job of lobbies to do so! See how successful such pro-Israeli lobbies have been in America. Is Israel not benefitting from their operations? Are Israeli violations of human rights and arrogant defiance of International Laws not being shielded from censure because of these lobbies? So whats wrong if in South Africa, Zionist lobbies emulate their counterparts in the US to muzzle the media?

Coming back to Atwan, my sense is that 702 miscalculated his position on Annapolis. Their assumption would have been that since they would feature an Amnesty International spokesperson – whose reservations about Annapolis is well known – they could "balance" AI’s critical views with those of a supposedly "moderate" Arab journalist. Atwan, as it turns out, was far more critical of US/Israeli goals than Fisk and AI combined!

Atwan made it known that he is pessimistic about the outcome from Annapolis as in his views the Bush administration is "throwing a bone at the Palestinians". And in response to Gibbons’ line that Arab participation reflects differently, Atwan explained that this was not surprising as none of them [Arab states] can claim to be independent or sovereign states. Their dependency on America does not allow them to bahave outside of US dictates.

Such information is well known. It appears though that some media practitioners would have us believe that since these despots and monarchs have embraced Annapolis, Bush is on the right track. In fact it is entirely due to the fact that the Palestinian liberation movement does not possess the advantage of having a solid bulwark of frontline status as the ANC did, that it is open to manipulation.

Witness the role of Mahmoud Abbas. He deals with Olmert as if the playing fields are level. Not only that; he also entertains demands by Olmert. Gideon Levy of Haaretz makes it quite plain: "……a thief cannot present demands – neither preconditions nor any other terms – to the owner of the property he has robbed."

Correctly then the view expressed by Atwan cannot be faulted. More importantly, his prediction that the Arab states will be sucked deeper into an alliance with the US and Israel’s ultimate mission to take military action against Iran is alarming, yet serious.

Can we ignore it?