- 5 LONG YEARS AGO:
"I've never heard anyone who has
made this stuff as clear as you... It was like somebody had just opened the windows and
the light came pouring in."
Keith Morrison, "CANADA
commenting on guest Mark Bruzonsky (9/10/93)
MER - Washington -
10 September 1998:
In a few days, September 13th marks the 5th
anniversary of the signing extravaganza, the "TV Peace", that brought Yasser
Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin together at the White House. MER grew out of this period during
which the mainstream media increasingly allowed itself to be continually manipulated.
On September 13th the founder of MER, Mark Bruzonsky, provided the
live commentary for Canadian National Television (CTV) throughout the White House signing
ceremony. A few weeks before that on 31 August, when the "Oslo Agreement" was
first announced, Bruzonsky appeared on the "CANADA AM" program and said the
For full transcripts see: http://www.MiddleEast.Org/ctv1.htm
AM" TV HOST KEITH MORRISON:
The two sides must now figure out how to
implement this deal. Joining us from Washington is Mark Bruzonsky*. Thank you for being
with us this morning.
MARK BRUZONSKY:Good Morning. And thank you for inviting me.
MORRISON: Some people are calling this an unbelievable breakthrough,
a major change in the way the Middle East is functioning now. Would you agree that that is
so or that it is problematic?
BRUZONSKY: Well you know every time there is a diplomatic deal it is
always called a major breakthrough, that is what the politicians who make the deals feel
they have to say. The Israelis are doing pretty much what they've said they will always
do. The talk of giving Gaza, the talk of "autonomy", the talk of giving back
some of the territories for local rule; these are things the Israelis have talked about
for a long time. The change you are witnessing is that Yasser Arafat -- pressured as he
is, losing his grip as he has been, without financial resources, finding himself cornered
and without anywhere to go -- has agreed to things that heretofore the Palestinian
movement has always said they would never agree to. Now there is no doubt there is a major
shift in the road ahead. Whether it is going to lead to a stable and just peace, to be
quite frank I am very skeptical.
MORRISON: Why is Yasser Arafat in such a weak position that he had
to capitulate to this kind of a deal?
BRUZONSKY: Look, we only have a few minutes, let's call it straight.
The Palestinian people have been beaten into submission now for a generation. They are
destitute They have been living under military occupation. Their economy is in shambled.
Their institutions are in shambles. All along they have had the hope for eventual
independence in their own state. That's what the PLO was set up to achieve.
On the other hand, in the wake of the Gulf War, with the collapse of
the Soviet Union, the American empire is in control of the Middle East with "client
regimes" all the way from Saudi Arabia to Morroco.
Under these circumstances the PLO has been squeezed to a point where
it's institutions were beginning to come apart...The truth of the matter is that what you
are witnessing today is a very uncomfortable deal between long-time enemies -- Rabin, who
leads a shaky coalition government in Israel; Yasser Arafat whose hold over the PLO has
been whittled away by Hamas and by the disintegration of the PLO. So you are witnessing an
accommodation that these two parties are making. And when politicians have been
negotiating for a number of years, placing people's hopes in the forefront, they don't
like to come forward and say 'we've failed'.
You'll remember a few months ago the negotiators were said to have
failed. Nothing had been achieved. People were talking about resigning. Now if you are
Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin saying that you've failed is your ticket to maybe losing
MORRISON: From Rabin's point-of-view, if he didn't strike some kind
of a deal with Yasser Arafat he would soon not have Yasser Arafat to deal with and Hamas
would be much more difficult..
BRUZONSKY: Absolutely. What you are witnessing now is the kind of
tension that unleashes other forces.
Now in the last 20 years since I got out of school I've been to the
Middle East region maybe 200 times and I was there during the Camp David period, I knew
Sadat, had dinner with Arafat... Nobody knows what this initial agreement, this initial
"breakthrough" agreement, is going to lead to. But I think it's very fair to say
that there will be tremendous tensions placed on the agreement. And its very difficult to
see right now how the agreement is going to be implemented because one side from day one
is going to say: Statehood, Flag, Palestinian independence, Return of the Palestinian
exiles. The other side is going to say, no, no, no, "autonomy", limited
self-rule, 5-year trial period...
It's going to be an extremely unstable and fragile agreement. But it
will keep, it will probably keep, the current political leaders in their jobs because they
will be able to say: we are the leaders who started this process, we're making progress,
give us more time, we know what we are doing -- even if they don't have the slightest idea
where this is going to take them.
MORRISON: Exactly. But as you say, you know the situation on the
ground pretty well, you've been to these areas. The question is whether the people who
live in them -- whether they are associated with the PLO, or Hamas, or whomever -- will
the Palestinians be able to accept the notion that they can have a kind of a limited
autonomy in these special areas for a period of years -- God knows how long -- and maybe
some day get what they have wanted all along.
BRUZONSKY: Palestinian society is already in the midst of a
low-grade civil war. You've got Hamas and the PLO and various factions of the PLO. You've
even got major resignations of major personalities from the PLO Executive Committee --
Mahmoud Darwish, Shafiq al-Hout -- these are long-time Arafat comrades and stalwarts...
Palestinian society in the beginning, I think, will look at this agreement and say: well,
if it really is a step on the road to our independence and statehood ok...maybe. But,
they'll be very skeptical and I suspect within a very short time there will be all kinds
of signs that it's not a step on the road to real independence. Listening to Abba Eban
last night he said "Let's get back to reality!" after Hanan Ashrawi stated
talking about "eventual independence"...
The Israelis want recognition. What they really want -- they won't
say it -- is they want the Palestinians on reservations and Bantustans. They want to be
able to control the territories. They want to economically move within the Middle East.
They want to be able to make peace agreements with the pro-American Arab regimes that are
being pressured tremendously to make a deal. They don't want Palestinian independence...
And they will do everything they can to prevent it.
MORRISON: Arafat in this case is not acting as Mandela is he?
BRUZONSKY: Well Arafat is acting more like Butelezi than like
MORRISON: Thank you very much for shedding this light on the
situation. And now local news.
Bruzonsky's bio and publication information can be
found at http://www.MiddleEast.Org/mab.htm