Memo To: Ariel Sharon, Israeli Prime Minister
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Surefire Solution!!
The reason these Palestinian kids are willing to blow themselves up in Israel proper, Mr. Prime Minister, is because they believe their deaths are causing YOU difficulties. And they are right. The people of Israel, your constituents, are losing confidence in you, as you know, because as days go by, there are more suicide bombings, not fewer. One of these days, President Bush’s advisors will even lose confidence in you and there will be more U.S. votes in the United Nations Security Council condemning your use of military occupation and force. The law of diminishing returns not only applies to tax policy, but also to the use of force. Unless you are prepared to take on the entire Islamic world, you have to be more creative in your use of diplomacy.
What you should be doing, Mr. Sharon, is to find a way to EVERY day give Yasir Arafat some small victory, some tiny concession. Not just bombing fewer Palestinian villages and assassinating fewer Palestinian leaders. They don’t have to be obvious, but they clearly have to be connected to Arafat. If they are, the young men and women who are giving their lives for their country will instantly see that their deaths will HELP you and HURT Arafat. They would be far less likely to throw the switch on their backpacks.
If you think back, sir, you will recall the Palestinian suicide bombings in 1996, three in all as I remember, which ended as soon as Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin began delivering Arafat small victories, little concessions, on the path toward peace. The “terrorist” acts ended, and did not resume until two years ago. It was an Israeli extremist, Binjamin Netanyahu, who objected to the Rabin concessions to Arafat, who drove your country off the peace path by publicly announcing that Rabin should be shot for those concessions! Naturally, one young Israeli boy instantly decided he would give his life for his country by following Netanyahu’s suggestion, getting a gun, and assassinating Prime Minister Rabin. You remember all this, I’m sure.
Most of the advice you are getting from the United States, I’m afraid, is in exactly the opposite direction. Tom Friedman of The New York Times thinks you should deliver a “major military blow” against the Palestinians, to show the teenage bombers that their deaths will not work. Friedman has taken leave of his senses, though. Then there is The Wall Street Journal, which thinks that if we only start a war with Iraq and kill Saddam Hussein, along with the collateral damage, that peace will break out on the West Bank. You are not a dumb guy, Mr. Sharon. Think of how dumb this idea is, compared to my suggestion that you throw rainbow dust in the eyes of the Palestinian kids. They do not want to think well of you, but they do want to think well of Mr. Arafat. This is the margin.
What do I recommend be the steps you might take in that direction? I will leave that to you, sir, as they would immediately become obvious. I would, though, start by announcing that Israel will no longer build settlements on the West Bank, as your policy of building them has been taken by the Palestinians as a goad to action.
The idea is not my own, Mr. Prime Minister. There is an American Muslim named Louis Farrakhan who is a friend of mine. Last December, I asked him how he would solve the problem of the suicide bombers, and he told me that if you gave Mr. Arafat some victories, he would be able to get control of the situation. You will have empowered Arafat. This is not “rewarding” the terrorists. They have been responding to your use of ever-increasing use of force. If you escalate further, so will they. If you need any ideas on how to proceed, ask Colin Powell for his advice. That will also empower him in the eyes of our President, who still does not seem to see that you have passed the point of diminishing returns.