Office of the Prime Minister
Honorable Ariel Sharon, Director General of the Office of Prime Minister
c/o Uri Shani
Via Facsimile Transmittal and Registered Mail
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
I am a lawyer practicing in the United States but I spend more than 60% of my time in Israel. I am the son of survivors. I dreamt of making Aliya ever since my parents pulled my brothers and I off a bus to the airport in Vienna to a plane to Israel in 1963. My wife came to share my vision and my family, including my three daughters, made Aliya in August 1994.
I am writing because of the amateurs in the strategic planning and public relations departments of our government. We have consistently lost the initiative against the Palestinians because I believe that we have amateur psychologist working for us, as opposed to professionals employing common sense. As a result, our policies lack focus and have the appearance of being made without prior planning, preparation or goals. In contrast, our foes come of as professional and focused.
Since the start of the “Al Aqsa” intifada, our political strategic planners have employed a strategy of symbolic acts in the hope of dissuading our enemies from carrying out acts of terror. This took the form of warning the PA of the targets we would strike so that they would suffer no casualties. The hope was that by seeing out power, the terrorists would be cowed from carrying out further acts. Did anyone stop and consider whether the suicide bombers care what our reaction would be. All this strategy has accomplished was to alert the PA as to the nature of our responses. Thus, we no longer have to warn them that we are coming, they automatically evacuate potential targets and we end up hitting empty buildings. This strategy is a proven failure.
Our more recent efforts at going after the “terrorist infrastructure” have been no more effective because again, we telegraph our moves through a cumbersome decision making process, i.e., the security cabinet and the kitchen cabinet. It amazes me that after almost two (2) years of terror our governments have not had a set of pre-selected targets to hit in the event of a terrorist attack. Or if such a list exists, the authority to hit them has not been given. It is my opinion that retaliation is effective only if it is guaranteed and immediate. It has been neither. By the time the cabinets hold their meetings, everyone in the world knows what we are going to do. Thus, because we are a democratically elected government, we end up looking like bloodthirsty warmongers and the Palestinians as the victims. This has happened in almost every instance. By the time we hit them, the visions of our mangled victims are forgotten and the world sees the poor Palestinian widow who lost her husband who had nothing to do with the terrorist act. I want to know why are the helicopters and troops not on the way within minutes after credit is taken for an attack. These people mock us and make us look like fools. To add insult to injury, the leaders of these terror groups, like Sheik Yassin and Rantizzi have become media stars and are immune from harm because they are “political” personae. It amazes me that a country that could send planes to Uganda and hunt down the murderers of the 1972 Olympians doesn’t have the will to find a blind old man in Gazza or the Hamas spokesman in the West Bank.
And then we have our government spokesmen, and I include the Prime Minister and the defense minister among them. If you are going to give interviews in English, learn the language. Both Mr. Sharon and Fuad are unqualified to give interviews in English. That also goes for our UN representative and most of the foreign ministry and IDF spokesmen. In contrast, the PA representatives that appear on television are smooth and excellent English speakers. I would trade all of ours combined for either of Ashrawi or Erakat. Why can’t we have competent spokesmen who are trained in public relations and have their “talking points”. Theirs mention occupation so many times that everyone now talks about it. Ours “ahh” and “ehh” so many times that it hurts your ears. Ours appear unprepared and theirs the exact opposite.
The topper for me has been the recently announced policy of “isolating” Arafat. Whoever came up with this idea must be a Ph.D. from the school of symbolism. Since when can you humiliate a liar, especially one who a significant part of the world believes? Hasn’t anyone there read Aldous Huxley’s book, 1984, or perhaps Mein Kampf”, the basic premise of which is the bigger the lie and the more frequently it is repeated, the more likely it is to be believed. We have managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with this policy of isolation. The U.S. has practically begged us to get rid of Arafat, but we come up with this brilliant plan to “isolate” him. We have isolated him with CNN interviews, by candlelight, BBC interviews, and, one day early for an April fools joke, with forty foreign “peace” activists. He was shown kissing the women and posing for the cameras. I expect that Washington will make us pay for this fiasco, because we just made President Bush look like an idiot. He says that Arafat is responsible for the terror, and we reward him by letting Arafat look like a grandfather everyone wants to have. He really looked the part of the terrorist. Mofaz says letting the activists in was a “mistake”. That was a career change mistake.
Who is responsible for these fiascoes? Arafat and the PA have outsmarted us every step of the way. We have squandered the lives of our terror victims by not taking advantage of their public relations value. We, in essence, killed them a second time by making their deaths forgettable and irrelevant. We have trivialized their deaths by neglecting to make any use of it and by reacting late if at all. Now we have the strategy of “isolation” and the repeated promise not to hurt Arafat. If he gets a hangnail or has a heart attack, we will pay in blood. The stupidity of this policy is not to be believed. Now, we can’t kill him no matter what he does. Let us ship him out before the Supreme Court decides that we can’t isolate him.
In business, people who expouse such strategies would have long ago lost their jobs. I know that no government would employ persons who have the proven record of failure of our strategic planners and public relations people have demonstrated. In my opinion, start over by getting people with some common sense to do the job. If they can speak English, all the better.
For God’s sake, stop the symbolism, the world is not buying it, and call it as it is. The Palestinians are liars, murderers and thieves. Arafat has been kicked out of every country that gave him sanctuary. He broke over 150 cease-fire agreements in Lebanon and nearly destroyed that country. The suicide bombings started after the Oslo Agreements and after Arafat has 97% of the Palestinian population under his control. Repeat this mantra at every opportunity, before any explanation of policy and events. React immediately, and not after eight hour middle of the night meetings. Let us put them on the defensive for a change.
At the risk of sounding presumptuous, I want to volunteer my services in any capacity so long as I can help Israel develop a reasonable strategic plan in dealing with our predicament. I want no compensation. I also don’t want my family slaughtered because someone thinks that it is a good idea to declare Arafat and enemy, but not to touch him because he is being isolated with hundreds of his gunmen and supporters.
I look forward to prompt response to the points raised by this letter.
Thomas Schmelzer is an Attorney at Law