Sharon’s First Memo to Thomas Friedman

Dear Thomas,

Thomas, I’m a single man holding an entire nation in exile and under occupation, both in a grip of terror, yet I’ve never made so much as USA Today’s World Roundup column. I’m doing my best to run a brutal apartheid regime that has caused mass human suffering, but I can order only so many arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial executions.

Sure, Amnesty International may be talking about me, but who ever listens to them? At the very least, I deserve a mention in Larry King’s column. It’s not like this for other dictators, you know. Milosevic got his picture in both Time and Newsweek. And a year back, people were even paying attention to what Suharto was doing in East Timor. But over here in Eretz Yisrael, I’m up to my elbows in bloody machetes and human heads, and no one even cares.

Thomas, there’s been some really gruesome carnage here lately, if anyone would just take the time to notice. Is America’s most important daily newspaper not aware that my army recently massacred hundreds of unarmed civilians under the pretense of putting an end to violence? Apparently not, because the months it happened, they led with a story about mad cow disease and problems with the US elections. Come on! What will it take?

If there isn’t room for a full story, perhaps the New York Times could run a chart detailing my major human rights violations. I could even help write it. There are five million Palestinian refugees, many of whom I forcibly relocated and massacred in Sabra and Shatila. That’s worth writing about, isn’t it? I may not be Tiger Woods or Ricky Martin, but I’m doing some pretty newsworthy things over here, aren’t I?

Thomas, our borders are open to American journalists. If you come here to expose my incomprehensible cruelties, you have my solemn word that I will not order my soldiers to shoot at you. In fact, you can even stay at my palatial compound in Jerusalem’s Old City. From your room, you will hear for yourself the screams of political prisoners as they are tortured at Moscobiya in the Russian compound.

Please, Thomas, I implore you. Make me world-famous. Yes, the tables have turned, and it is now I who begs. The name Sharon should be synonymous with evil by now. I’ve played it out so many times in my head, I know just how it would go. After the big New York Times piece, Dan Rather’s people would hound me to do an interview. Finally, after weeks of turning them down, I would agree on the condition that the interview is non-confrontational. Though Rather starts out benignly enough, asking me about the Palestinians’ poor economy and our war against Palestinians, he soon turns on me. He wants to discuss a specific incident in 1982 in which thousands of Palestinians were massacred. I become visibly uncomfortable. He demands to know why I insist that there were only 2,000 deaths, when several independent accounts put the number much higher.

Flustered, I answer, “You know nothing of the complexities of our affairs. In the name of progress, sometimes people must die.” People everywhere are shocked at my cruelty and cold indifference, and my picture is in newspapers all across America! Perhaps even your great comedian Jay Leno makes a joke about me.

Alas, for now, this is only a dream of mine. But I will not give up. I will make The New York Times notice me, even if a whole lot more innocents must die.

The author is a Dutch-Palestinian political scientist, human rights activist and is affiliated to the the Palestine Right to Return Coalition (Al-Awda) and

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