Israel Resource Review 1st April, 2002


An Open Letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Thomas Schmelzer
Attorney at Law

Thomas Schmelzer
Efrat 90435

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.

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Arab leaders Organize Protests
Donna Bryson
AP correspondent, Cairo

Cairo, Egypt (AP) - The crowds are large and their chants fiery, but Arab protests - such as those against Israel's pressure on Yasser Arafat - are often used and even choreographed by the region's governments to send messages abroad and keep anger over domestic problems in check.

Tens of thousands of Arabs have protested every day since Israeli forces seized control of the Palestinian leader's compound in Ramallah on Friday and began taking over other West Bank towns in a major offensive that follows 18 months of violence.

Demonstrations have erupted on university campuses across Egypt, in squalid Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and Jordan, and along the sidewalks of Jordan's capital, Amman. Some of the largest have been in countries such as Iraq and Syria, whose governments keep the tightest grip on self-expression - but use their media and security forces to organize mass demonstrations when they want to make a point to the outside world.

The region's less repressive leaders keep a close eye on protests against Israel and the United States, allowing demonstrators to vent anger that might otherwise be directed at their own governments but reining them in when they get out of hand.

Egyptian police used tear gas and fire hoses Monday to disperse demonstrators who tried to march from Cairo University to the nearby Israeli Embassy.

Students who have held daily protests across Egypt have not been allowed to venture off their campuses.

Both Egypt and Jordan, the only Arab countries to have signed a peace treaty with Israel, have come under pressure to annul their treaties or sever diplomatic ties.

Roughly 60 percent of Jordan's 5 million people are Palestinians who fled or were driven out of their homes in the 1948 and 1967 Middle East wars, and calls for steps against Israel are growing. However, a senior government official said Monday that Jordan would maintain ties with Israel. Egypt has taken a similar position.

Officials say maintaining relations offers crucial influence in the conflict, though Egypt and Jordan both recalled their ambassadors to Tel Aviv more than a year ago to protest the violence that erupted in September 2000.

On the so-called Arab street, anger at Israel and the United States, its closest ally, has built up over half a century of wars and Arab-Israeli rivalry.

In Syria, the government uses the media it controls to fan that anger, With articles like a recent one in the in al-Baath, the ruling Baath Party's official newspaper, that called Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a Nazi.

Across the Arab world, television images of Palestinian corpses on the streets of Ramallah and Arafat's police surrendering to Israeli troops also increase the anger.

In countries where opinion is giver freer rein, independent and state television, government officials and opposition columnists have been speaking much the same language - the language of outrage - on the Palestinian issue.

But as united as Arab media, people and politicians are against Israel's crackdown on Arafat and the Palestinians, governments in the Mideast are not acting on calls to wage war on Israel or end all contacts with the Jewish state.

Few Arab leaders have to answer to voters, and fewer still want to take any step that might undermine their authority.

"There is no democracy in this part of the world and no Arab ruler cares what his people think on any issue, let alone the peace issue," said Labib Kamhawi, a Jordanian political scientist.

In the calculations of the region's leaders, analysts say, holding onto power is less a matter of appeasing their citizens than of containing threats and currying favor with the United States by supporting attempts to find a peaceful end to the Israeli-Arab crisis.

And yet Egypt's government, which has great influence over the country's media, has taken no steps to calm emotions fueling the protests.

Egyptian sociologist Saad Eddin Ibrahim said the government was happy to let its people vent their anger over the plight of the Palestinians instead of focusing on unemployment, inflation, lack of economic or political opportunity or other problems.

"It is a God-sent issue for the government for the time being, to sidetrack and deflect attention from problems at home," Ibrahim said. But "whenever it threatens to spill outside the university gates, then the ugly face of the security forces is shown."

Abouleila Madi, one of the organizers of Monday's failed march on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, said the tear gas and streams of water that met the peaceful protesters "reveals a real dilemma" facing the region's governments.

"Arab regimes are incapable of doing anything, and when their people demand they do something, they confront them with violence," he said.

This appeared on the AP wire of April 1, 2002

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Why was the Arab Suicide Attack in Efrat Different from Other Terror Attacks?
David Bedein

Late in the afternoon of Sunday, March 31, 2002, which this year was both the fourth day of Passover and on Easter Sunday, an explosion rocked Efrat, my wife, typing away yet another e-mail to one of many corresponding women from the world over, looked around the living room to see that the children were OK, and resumed her correspondence, including the "boom" in her closing graph.

Elchanon, our almost sixteen year old son who helps me in every aspect of my work, ran to the scene of the blast, cell phone in hand, stood on a hill overlooking the evacuation of the wounded so that he could report to me at the press center in Jerusalem. From where our office was able to place the story on the wire services, and to his brother Noam, now soldier on the Lebanese front.

Elchanon's first words said it all. This attack was different from all the other attack. This time, an Arab blew himself up at the emergency mobile medical unit that dispatched a medic to treat him.

As the terrorist blew himself up, the medic that came out to treat him, Assaf Perlman, was riddled with shrapnel, sustaining injuries in his head and chest. Assaf is fighting for his life. Assaf is the same medic who risked his live under fire at the Joseph Tomb compound in October 2000 to try to save the life of a Druze Israeli soldier, Mamduch Yusef, who wound up bleeding to death in Assaf's arms. Five other paramedics were also hurt, including Elchanon's tenth grade classmate, Netanel, whose parents, from Moshe and Debbie, are old friends of mine who went to graduate school with me in New York 25 years ago and who, like us, settled in Efrat.

After many threats, this attack was clearly aimed against Efrat's policy of providing medical services for the two Arab villages that are contiguous to Efrat. As a matter of policy, the Rabbi of Efrat, Shlomo Riskin, raised substantial funds from liberal Jews for medical clinics and schools in these nearby Arab villages a policy that earned the wrath of Arafat's Palestinian Authority.

Rabbi Riskin made such a policy decision in the spirit of the Torah states 36 times that which a non-Jew who lives at peace with you in the land of Israel must be treated with dignity, respect and service.

In Januray, Last month, without warning, Channel One of Moscow filmed the Arab villages near Efrat, expecting to hear stories about the "Israeli occupation" and tensions between the small Arab village and the 16 expanding Israeli Jewish settlements of Efrat and the Etzion Bloc. The Russian TV crew heard the opposite message only praise for the people of Efrat and the Etzion bloc, and seething anger against Arafat and the "PLO occupation" of their fellow Palestinian Arab brethren in the Bethlehem region.

Family after family in these Arab villages told Russian TV that they were getting the best medical treatment possible from their friends in Efrat, while their families in Bethlehem had to bribe officials just to get the basics of treatment from the PA. They also spoke with pride about the school that Efrat had built for them

All this was aired on Russian TV Channel One very recently.

It would seem that the PA was watching. The clear purpose of the attack was to disrupt a proper relationship between a Jewish city and an Arab village.

Despite the threats to their lives from Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, the people of Efrat's nearby Arab villages gathered in an emergency town meeting to issue a statement that denounced the attack in the strongest of terms. It surprised nobody in the villages that Arafat's police force took credit for the attacks.

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