How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment
A Middle East analyst seeks, through many conversations and a bit of offbeat humor, a resolution to the conflict.
Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, brokered by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, are set to resume in two weeks’ time. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says reconciliation is “difficult but possible.” That was last month.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The same week, a young woman posted photos of herself on Facebook, broadly smiling in her Israeli army uniform in front of bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners. In the ensuing media maelstrom, Eden Abergil acknowledged that her album was “thoughtless,” then, in a display of either pitiful naiveté or the arrogant confidence of her convictions, stated: “I still don’t understand what wasn’t OK.”
Day after day, year after year, the Israeli-Palestinian tumult continues. Occasional highs, such as the 2003 road map, have been marred by frequent lows, including the two intifadas. Constantly confronted with the region’s struggles, everyone, regardless of lifestyle or location, seems to have an opinion.
Gregory Levey has an antidote to our nonstop cajoling, decrying, and arguing. He’d like us to read his affable memoir, How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment, in which he methodically examines a multiplicity of attitudes, to keen effect. “Don’t be a Fundamentalist,” he counsels in his Author’s Note. But he discovers that such advice is easier given than put into actual practice.
As a former employee of the Israeli government, an experience he chronicled in the funny, warmly regarded memoir “Shut Up, I’m Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government,” and as a graduate of a Zionist Jewish elementary school, this 30-something author has spent a long time thinking about the Middle East. Admittedly consumed yet utterly exhausted, he decides to find a solution, so that not only will he fully understand what’s at stake, he’ll never have to talk about it again.
First, Levey orders special “PeaceMaker” underwear off the Internet. On a serious note, he also sets out to speak with as many people with as many points of view as possible, “from the biggest players in the Middle East debate to the cranks who kept bombarding my email in-box.” Each interview generally follows a pattern: Levey explains his project, acknowledges its inherent preposterousness, recommends that the person read or, at the very least, buy his first book, and then asks for his or her thoughts.