John Boyd and Israeli Retail

John Boyd’s OODA Cycle, described in the last post, is simple. Think faster, understand more, react faster than your enemy, and your enemy will ultimately self-destruct. Hardly a new idea. But even the zippiest cycle will avail not unless you’re focused on your enemy to begin with.

In the military art, you can orient inward or outward. If you orient inward, your concern is with yourself. What matters is keeping the lines of advancing British infantry straight and steady as they attack the German trenches. That it can’t be done – No Man’s Land’s far too shell-pocked and obstacle-strewn to permit it – means nothing. The lines must be straight. And as you pause once again to straighten your lines, all the German machine gunners can say is, “Thank you for making our job so much easier.”

Or: Your orders are to take Hill 819. So the company you thought was defending the hill has turned out to be a regiment – no matter. Or perhaps the bad persons abandoned the hill before you got there and now have great fields of fire all up and down from an adjacent hill. The orders say to take the (expletive deleted) hill and that’s what we’re going to do.

Or you can orient outward, toward the enemy. What do you wish to accomplish, in terms of the effect on the enemy? Orders may take many forms, depending on the situation, and as the situation changes. Even, “Take the (expletive deleted) hill.” But the common denominator is that you’re focused, not so much on piling up the bodies or moving pins on maps (although these may matter greatly), or even on keeping your lines straight, as on destroying the enemy’s ability to fight as an organized, thinking entity.

Is Israeli hasbara, indeed, much of the organizational and private defense of Israel as a whole, oriented in or out?

Put differently: Do we say what sounds good to us, that which we deem important to us and perhaps even true? Or do we say that which might get inside the cycle of those who wish us ill, i.e., disrupt their ability to act in this vital hearts-and-minds struggle?

We orient within.

So the world frets the Palestinian people? Our response: Ain’t no such thing as the Palestinian people. And anyway, it’s all the fault of their corrupt leadership.

So Israel’s an illegitimate state? Hey, God gave it to us and what we currently hold’s a mere fraction of the original Divine Land Grants proclaimed in Genesis and Exodus. As for all that additional real estate, as one Israeli told me in absolute seriousness: “We’ll get around to it.”

All those decades of bloodshed, reprisal raids, confiscations? Let’s excuse it by dragging out Golda Meir. We can forgive the Arabs for what they did to us, but not for what they made us do to them.

Should anyone ever publish The Jewish Treasury of Self-Serving Quotations, that one will doubtless make the Top Ten. Right alongside how all the recent crimes and atrocities perpetrated by the Jewish religious/political right “do not reflect Jewish Values.”

Jewish Values – some kind of ace of trumps. We seem to have a lot of them. How much they impress the Goyim: That’s another matter.

And of course those hardy perennials: Everybody who dares question must be either a Nazi, an anti-Semite, or a self-hating Jew – and since Israel lives in such a tough neighborhood, anything goes. So just shut up, listen to us, and us only.

Who’s buying it? Not a lot of folks anymore, save those already convinced. And who’s getting fed up with it all? More and more people, all the time, I suspect.

And Israel’s unwilling to change the message because, for the message to be credible, the reality would have to change, also.

We’ll talk macro-realities one more time, next time. For now, maybe we can learn a bit from the micro.

An oleh friend, an American rabbi who now runs a thriving consulting firm in Karmiel, a few months ago attended one of those “How to Succeed in Small Business” motivational seminars. One of the first things the speaker said:

“Stop insulting and alienating your customers.”


Isn’t that so obvious, so ridiculous, that saying it should have prompted the attendees to start demanding their money back?

Not in Israel.

I buy very little. My needs as seventy approaches are modest. But I recently walked out of a very good butcher shop I’d patronized for several months, because the entire staff, likely including the owner, were too busy restocking their freezers to pay any attention to me, standing at the counter, purchases in hand.

My wife and I are looking for new computers for a business we’re starting. A few days ago, she purchased a set of headphones at a local computer store, a well-known chain, where she’d bought a computer a couple years ago. She’d dealt with the sales person before. At home, the headphones disintegrated upon first use. When she took them back for another set, she was told, “You didn’t open the box in the store, so they’re yours.”

Leave aside the fact that the refusal was illegal and the manner peremptory and rude. The company kept its ninety shekels but lost ten thousand in future purchases. At least. When my wife complained on their Facebook page, she was told that the matter would be investigated. We’re still waiting to learn the results of their “investigation.”

A few months before, she’d tried to exchange some unsatisfactory cosmetics to a local store. Exchange, not refund. “The owner snapped, “If all my customers were like you, I wouldn’t have a business.”

He still has his business. Minus one customer. Or perhaps, over the years, he’d lost a lot more that he never knew about. Maybe that computer company has, too. Perhaps every Israeli store should have a photo or statue or something inscribed “To an Unknown Customer.”

The examples could go on, and I’m sure you have your own. But the point is clear.

Don’t make enemies you don’t need to make. Are not those we already have, sufficient unto the day?

About the Author
Philip Gold made Aliyah from USA in 2010 after several decades as a Beltway "public intellectual" of sorts.
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