Israel Resource Review 18th Febuary, 2001


Official PA radio news - P.B.C. V.O.P. (Voice of Palestine) Radio, February 16-17
Featuring Specal Report Following Iraqi Attacks

Summary and Analysis

After the air-strikes in Iraq, both Israeli and American-Anglo "aggression" were feature items on V.O.P. Saturday. In the 7 p.m. news bulletin, reaction to the Iraqi air-strike-highlighting criticism of American-British aggression-was longer than all the other news items combined, and it left no doubt as to with which side of the conflict street the PA sided.

At 11 p.m., V.O.P. announced that the 'national and Islamic forces" were dedicating two "days of rage" for massive demonstrations and parades not only against Israel (Tuesday and Friday) but also to condemn American attacks on Iraq. This is a "choosing-sides" moment, and the PA is signaling its choice of Saddam while it believe the United States has chosen Israel.

(The PA is also choosing Hizballah's side in the current border war along the Lebanese-Israeli "ceasefire line.")

The serious financial crisis inside the Palestinian Authority again reached the headlines today (see below), but for several days it has been showing up in other ways: frequent radio messages to the public to pay their income taxes. PA officials are calling for an immediate cash inflow-from Arab countries and Europe-to help the situation.

Salim Za'anoun, the head of the PNC (Palestine National Council of the PLO) returned to the headlines to defend refugee rights, only two weeks after he was rebuked publicly for leading a group attempting to force Yasser Arafat into a power-sharing scheme (at which time he also said that the PNC had not repealed the Palestinian Covenant). The sudden return of Za'anoun to Arafat's airwaves means that either he bribed a few senior V.O.P. employees or else that he and Arafat have kissed and made up (probably because they need each other).

On the Israeli front, V.O.P. says that a national unity government is to be announced at the beginning of this week, with Ehud Barak as "Army Minister." V.O.P. quoted at length from the most critical Israeli newspaper articles that condemned the cynical way Barak had broken his own promise to leave political life.

Friday Afternoon Round-up Headlines, February 16, 4 p.m.

  • "The martyring of a man in Tulkarm who was denied medical attention at a road block;
  • The martyring of Anwar Mustafa Mar'ii, 33, from Qarawat Bani Hassan who was assassinated in a crime committed by a gang of traitors; [Note: in the bulletin details, Mar'ii was described as a senior organizer of the PA intelligence services engaged in counter-espioniage]
  • A group of citizens wounded in confrontations in Ramallah and El-Bireh and Rafah;
  • The killing of one Occupation soldier and wounding two others in Hizballah attack on occupied Shab'a farm;
  • The National Authority says its task is to force the Israeli government to keep its obligations according the peace process and the agreements;
  • The Minister of Information and Culture (Yasser Abd Rabbo) dismisses the possibility of reaching agreements with the succeeding (i.e. successor to Barak) based on its announced programs;
  • Salim Za'anoun, the speaker of the Palestinian National Council, asserted the Palestinian Leadership's strong devotion to the reight of the refugees to return to their homes. And Zaanoun in a speech in front of thousands of refugees in Ein Hilweh camp in Lebanon said the Palestinian delegation to Camp David had rejected territory worth 30-billion dollars in return for conceding the right of return. And the speaker of the Palestinian Council asserted that the right of return for the refugees was the first of the goals of the Intifada."

Saturday Morning Bulletin Headlines 7 a.m.

  • [first headline is repeat of lead-in headline on Palestinian martyrs];
  • "The martyring of an Iraqi civilian and the wounding of eight others as the result of air raids by Britain and the United States on civilian and military targets in the Iraqi capital yesterday. And the American president George Bush said there would a be a continuation of such attacks if iraq continues manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. An American spokesman said more than 50 planes paticipated in the attacks. And in the homeland (Palestine) there were many protest demonstrations against the bombing of Iraq;
  • Minister of Information Yasser Abd Rabbo sees no opportunity for continuing negotiations with successor Israeli government, based on its programs";
  • [Other headlines similar to those of lead-ins at 7 a.m.]

Saturday February 17 Morning Round-up Headlines

  • "Five martyrs in Hebron and Tulkarm and Qarawa Bani Hassan;
  • Israeli military aggression leads to more than 100 wounded by bullets, five of them critically;
  • Occupation bullets wound three foreign correspondents and Israeli tanks shell Ramallah, El-Bireh, Hebron, Zababdeh and Khan Yunis;
  • George Bush Junior orders an attack on the Iraqi capital, and Moscow condemns the aggression;
  • The President's advisor, Mr. Nabil Abu-Irdeineh says that what concerns is holding the Israeli government to its obligations under the peace process, and Palestine demands an international force to protect our people;
  • National Unity government in Israel with Ehud Barak as Minister of the Army who had said that he was leaving political life."

Saturday Evening Headlines, 7 p.m., February 17

  • "Residents of Hebron were subjected to artillery shelling this evening, injuring 25 citizens, most of them children…;
  • Organizations for defense of the homeland and confronting settlement announced the formation of a committee for oversight… of the Occupation practices and violations;
  • Norway called today for the continuation of Palestinian-Israeli talks based on the Oslo agreements of 1993…;
  • Dr. Muhammad Shteih, director-general of the Palstinian Fiscal Council said…there was a serious cash flow problem in the National Authority creating a fiscal crisis felt by citizens…and requiring a sum of 55-million dollars which could not be supplied by the Palestinian economy which was operating at less than 25-percent of its usual volume;
  • French foreign minister Hubert Vedrine warned of loss of hope among Palestinians to reach a just and lasting peace with Israel.
  • United Nations Council on Ecology called for Palestinian sovereignty on national resources in occupied Palestinian territory, including eastern Jerusalem. And it registered its concern… regarding Israeli violations of the Palestinian environment;
  • Iraqi President Saddam Hussein headed a meeting today to… oppose raids on Baghdad yesterday. And Iraq called on the nations of the world to oppose routine American killing of peoples who refuse American dictates, condemning the aggression yesterday and declaring the right to defend itself. And a spokesman of the Foreign Department of the ruling Ba'ath Party said the first goal of the American-Anglo aggression on Iraq was safeguarding American interests in the area….From its point of view, the Arab League condemned the American and British aggression on Baghdad, calling for respect of Iraqi sovereignty."

Quote of the Day

"And the speaker of the Palestinian Council asserted that the right of return for the refugees was the first of the goals of the Intifada."
        V.O.P. report on speech by Salimn Za'anoun, speaker of PNC, who has apparently returned to good graces of Arafat, Friday February 16 4:07 p.m.

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"Radwan and Me: A Personal Perspective of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation"
Mike Cohen
Independent Filmaker


Three weeks ago, this writer requested an interview with Radwan Abu Ayyash, the Chairman of Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation (P.B.C.), in Ramallah. P.B.C. is the parent of Voice of Palestine radio and Palestine television in the West Bank and Gaza. Because of possible current physical dangers in travelling to Ramallah from Jerusalem, and after several delays, Ayyash and this writer decided that a typed interview, including photos, would be more safely delivered by courier to a hotel in East Jerusalem.

Background Information

It sounds crazy. I am a right-wing Jew, he's a right-wing Palestinian, seeming opposites. But I call him my friend.

Little known to the masses, Radwan Abu Ayyash of Ramallah and Yasser Arafat are old friends. And to the Shin Bet and Israel he has already paid his dues . . . .

Forty years ago, at age 18, I had a dream: to become a professional journalist, reporting, even "fathering" news. Instead, I joined the family business, married, fathered two sons -- and then dropped out . . . . Now, at 58, I have resurfaced: here, in a frenetic field of dreams and nightmares, the Holy Land. It is here where a polar softening or hardening of hearts, even in the extreme, is still constantly possible . . . .

"Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel. The destruction of Israel is the goal of our struggle."

(Yasser Arafat, quoted in El Mundo, Caracas, Venezuela, 11 February 980) . . . . Critics call Radwan Hitler's Goebbels. But I repeat: I like the man. Adwan is a rebel and idealist, like me. In the 60's, I joined the Peace Corps. And then it was Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), anti-establishment and anti-Zionist, a notch below the violent Weathermen and Patty Hearst. Yet I stayed out of jail; Radwan didn't. A firey journalist, in print brainchild of the first intifada in '87, his words caught on; but he got caught. He was accused of causing incitement when there was no Area A to call home. Pre-Oslo Ramallah was Greater Israel hen.

Through it all, Radwan and Arafat remained friends, fellow ideologues, propagandists, embers in the anti-Zionist struggle. When Radwan got out of jail, the timing was right; the two Palestinians, one with the charisma o words, the other a political genius, decided to fan the coals to life.

Now it was no dream; Oslo'd been kindled and in 1994, with money, equipment, technical advisors, and cooperation, Palestinian Broadcasting corporation was born. It started in Ramallah, Radwan's hometown, then branched out to Gaza when Arafat came back from boyhood Cairo via Beirut and Tripoli.

It happens; there is an old guard, not dead yet. Ariel, Radwan, Shimon, Yasser. The "Over The Hill Club": survivors, thinkers, dreamers, doers.

The Interview

This is the transcript, typed on official P.B.C. stationary from Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, Office of Chairman, Ramallah Central Studios, delivered 5 February, 2001 to the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem.

I picked up the envelope containing the following responses in addition to requested color glossy photographs: one of the P.B.C. studios/office building in Ramallah, a second of the Ramallah transmitter, and the third, a small photo of Mr. Radwan Abu Ayyash.

Questions and answers:

Question 1: How did the P.B.C. start -- why and by whom?

Answer:The Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation is a national independent Radio and TV Station built with Palestinian hands and minds. It was established in 1993 within the agreement of principles between Israel and the PLO after which President Arafat issued an order to Mr. Radwan Abu Ayyash to found the P.B.C.

The idea stemmed from the need for an electronic media for Palestine and was a dream for me when I was the head of (AJA) Arab Journalist Association.

The Voice of Palestine experimental transmission started on the 2nd July 1994 with a statement from president Arafat. For the first time from Gaza, the regular broadcasting started in 1995. Now V.O.P. transmits from 6:30 AM until midnight and covers all areas of Palestine.

Palestine TV started the experimental transmission in 1994 in Jericho when it aired live the return of Mr. Arafat to Palestine. In September 1996 the transmission began two hours daily after which the time extended to four hours.

There is a link between Gaza studios and Ramallah studios, for a fast follow up of the latest news. The next plan is to extend the range of transmission to cover the widest possible areas.

A Palestinian satellite channel started its experimental transmission in 1998 with its two departments in Ramallah and Gaza.

Expectation and plans for the future:

  • Establishing a Media Center.
  • Establishing a training center.
  • Promoting the efficiency of the working staff, updating the transmission technology and improving the quality of programs.
  • Establishing a P.B.C. building in Ramallah with all its required departments.

P.B.C. Chairman's main responsibilities:

  1. Creates system of internal/external coordination
  2. Maintaining the implementation of the developmental strategies.
  3. Carries out the implementation of proposals, projects and agreement between the P.B.C. and other partners.
  4. Following up the process of fund raising and assistance to P.B.C.
  5. Promoting and monitoring activities of all departments.

Question 2: How does the P.B.C. choose its typical program content?

Answer: The P.B.C. policy emphasizes:

  • Promoting democracy and pluralism.
  • Promoting cultural characteristics of the Palestinians who now have the possibility to join the free world presenting to it there national issue and their fair demands.
  • Encouraging free thoughts with emphasis on the genuine heritage of Palestine.
  • Adopting credibility and non-biased policy with diversity of political, social, economic, cultural programs items.
  • Providing program exchange policy with other stations.
  • The news are independent, objective and separated from the documentaries.
  • There is a special committee to check if the materials meet the general policy of the P.B.C. before broadcasting.

Question 3: It is no mystery that Israelis feel certain of the pbc programs can cause incitement. What is your detailed view?

Answer: My view in this connection is not different from all other views of the Palestinian people. There is no incitement in its negative aspect, the war was waged against the Palestinians including the daily killing and shelling against them that started more than 3 months ago. the Israel wants us to kneel by force and the steadfastness displayed by the unarmed Palestinian is the real picture that has to be dealt with in the P.B.C.'s programs. Our policy is to support the legitimate right of the Palestinians given to them by the UN resolutions 242/338, the Israeli behavior is not accepted by us whether at the political level or at the level of the street and the P.B.C. is a reflection of these both levels. So what Israel call incitement, we call a way to express to the whole world Palestine has the right to live exactly like the Israel without any discrimination.

Question 4: On balance, things seem so pessimistic in the relations between 'cousins', can you tell me a positive story about your relations with Jews that built your trust, or a "bad blood" story, you want to tell?

Answer: We used to have and still have strong positive relations with Jews since we started the P.B.C. in the West Bank, such as dealings in buying and maintaining technical devices from Israeli companies who have a very good experience in this field. I don't have any personal negative story in this connection, I am humble, and religious man who believes in peace.

Question 5: What programs on the P.B.C. on the Israeli TV would you like to see to bridge differences and creates understanding? What join programs are possible if any?

Answer: "Palestine the Land of Peace" and "The Islamic Art in Jerusalem". All the P.B.C.'s programs respect different views and religions and are directed against violence in all its phases. Joint programs can cover all kinds of programs that enhance the mutual understanding between the two peoples; adults and children, men and women in order to help easing up the atmosphere. Planning of program exchange through satellite is vital for transmitting important different events.

Question 6: What in your personal vision of peace in the holy land? How has your vision evolved? Is it even possible and how? obstacles to peace? Do you think our peace could be an example for the world?

Answer: Since the beginnings, this land was the land of inspiration and peace, the three religions and the holly books that coexisted together in this land stressed the importance of liberty, democracy, justice and freedom. It is not a new issue to argue about now, it was heavenly settled long time ago. If there are two brothers who have a dispute on a peace of land, this dispute will not be resolved until both take their rights equally. Our dispute, as well, will not end until the Palestinians take their legitimate rights approved by the International legacy.

Question 7: Should the land from the Jordan to the sea be shared or divided?

Answer: The International legacy has stated this point clearly in its resolutions, and the PNA accepted them. A Palestinian state should be found next to Israel within all the areas occupied by Israel in 1967, this is the core of any negotiations held between both sides of the conflicts. Moreover, we live on this land, are ordered by God to live peacefully with our neighbors without making any social or religious discrimination.

[End of transcript]

The Middle East, for better or worse, is a messianic microcosm in waiting, to be a light unto the nations, a shared light. Without trust, the benefit of the doubt, and involvement, this is impossible. Your responses are critical.

Here then are people from both sides of the fence to write to. It is hoped the dialogue here, airing all points of view, will continue into an era of lasting peace.

Michael Cohen can be contacted at:

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