If  Howard Beale wrote a Middle East blog, he just might have my title as his new signature line. Machiavellian plotting is what Network and the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations or, better said, U.S-Palestinian-Israeli non-negotiations, best share:  Is the raison d’etre of each side really two states for two peoples or is it plotting to restate the best old and older red (and Green) lines?

Let’s give that Oscar (or Razzie, in the case of Palestine-Israel ’47)  to whoever can best irritate and obfuscate, and then reiterate and  regurgitate so many advocacy group-tested lines:

They don’t really want peace.

We gave them Gaza and they gave us missiles and terrorism.

They aren’t serious about peace.

This has been our land since Biblical times.

They dehumanize us.

They have no right to (fill in your grievance).

They can’t be trusted.

We can’t have peace if they can’t acknowledge we’re a Jewish state.

We’ll never have peace if they won’t stop adding settlements.

I know I’ve missed a few dozen or so, so go ahead and  fill in your personal favorites below:




The casting is easy; the roles are generally interchangeable.

Let’s get our hypothetical script started. It’s a musical….

Opening rap (rapped in unison by Palestinian and Israeli actors): Shoot me, bomb me, terrorize me. (repeat)

Invade me, raid me, kidnap me. (repeat)

Loosely Rhyming Expletives! (repeat 47  times…look, this is a rap and each of our post-1967 years should be appropriately commemorated.)

Lock me up! Trade me in a swap!  (Random, unrhyming expletives followed by meaningless rhyming words.) Duck! Puck!

Israeli and Palestinian leaders just compare… They need to dare! Show they care! 

We’re mad as hell! Answer our bell! 

We ain’t takin’ it… no more! We ain’t takin’ it no more! We ain’t takin’ it no more!

Dayenu! It’s not new!  Dayenu! It’s time we grew!

Lights fade. Scene One: It’s pitch black.

We hear an actor screaming:  We’ve done everything we can to make a deal! You’re responsible if we fail!


Another actor, clearly aggravated, replies : I’ll tell you what I told your sales guy and your general manager: Yes, I like the idea of a new car. But so what? I asked for gray, not black or white. And  your price is great, but you won’t take Bitcoin or let me pay this off over 30 years. My old model seems to be working just fine.

Silence. It’s still pitch black.

Enter God. Actor with a George Burns voice intones: Nothing will happen for either of you or MY Israeli and Palestinian  people until you begin to recognize why it should be as important to each of you as it is to ME that you make a deal. As we say up here, God doesn’t like to play zero sum games…. or pay over dealer invoice.  

Fade to car commercial placement.

Car enters scene. Car lights slowly illuminate the two actors, starting at their feet and slowly expanding to their entire bodies.

Suddenly we realize that they’re twins, dressed exactly the same.

Actors embrace.

They pause and look at each other. Then they face the camera and  calmly say in unison, “Yes, we may be different, but we are really the same. We are both better off if we focus more on our similarities than our differences. It’s time to go together to our people. We will tell them that each of us has agreed to make tough compromises so that our two peoples can live in peace.”

Ok, I know that dialogue is a little stilted. I’ll work on it. But give me a reasonable deadline and take away my SAG card if I don’t come up with something better before the next round of U.S.-Palestinian-Israeli meet and greets.

Sadly, instead of  our concluding scene fading to what would seem to be an appropriate car commercial placement where God gets both his peace and car deals,  in the real world  we’re more likely to fade to the car running over one of the actors, immediately followed by a lawyer 1-800 pitch.

Real world rational has yet to trump real world idiocy.

It also doesn’t trump our real world actors’ non-negotiating prowess. It doesn’t trump their lacking the mental preparation and acuity necessary to actually get to a peace agreement and then  deal with the tzuris of their own internal politics or the irrationality of their  carefully constructed confirmation biases. Palestinian and Israeli leaders Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu  know how to say no, but don’t understand when and why to say yes. And they are ceding their joint failures to future generations.

What could have been may still be, but time is only on the side of those who favor a dystopian future.

Since 1967, over 50 countries have acquired sovereignty — the majority, interestingly enough, from the U.K. Most were peaceful decisions fully recognized by other countries. Some, as with South Sudan and now Crimea, were not. None, however, seem to have the complex background of the initial U.K. decision to begin a process that resulted in the creation and   recognition of Israel in 1948.

If only the originally envisioned process would have been accepted and worked as intended.

If only the Palestinian side stopped focusing on the unfairness of the 1948 process and the Israeli side stopped focusing on Palestinian rejection of that process.

If only we had two leaders who were visionaries, able to look to the opportunities of their future generations instead of wallowing in measuring the harms caused to their past ones.

If only we had two leaders who not only understood they were   better served by a two-state solution, but were  prepared for what a commitment to an agreement entails.

If only we had pro-Israel advocacy groups and  Palestinian and Israeli political leaders who focused on helping with that preparation instead of  arguing negotiation deal points, often based on rumors and uninformed speculation. (Thankfully, much of the uninformed speculation crowd is now  remonstrating  on CNN and Fox  about Malaysian Air.)

If, however, after several wasted generations, the two sides do manage to finally reach an agreement, which presumably will be backed by the Arab League and approved in some type of vote by Palestinians and Israelis, the role of the advocacy groups and politicians should more naturally move to helping with implementation. And parts of the implementation (particularly evacuation and relocation of settlements and West Bank/Gaza security) will require constant positive advocacy as inevitable issues arise over what is likely to be a lengthy — possibly 10 to 20 year — period.

Tragedy does have a niche audience. But the vast majority of people prefer happy endings.  It’s important we all work to give what too often has been a Middle East horror show, filled with individual tragedies, the type of happy ending that will sell to future generations.




The Official Pro-Israel Test

by Jeff Pozmantier March 10, 2014

This is the official pro-Israel test. Inspected. Certified. Blessed. All treif thoughts and questions humanely excised. By me. Your test mohel. So let’s get to it. First, the rules: Add one point for each answer.  Subtract one point for each non-answer. That’s it. In deference to the recent Pew Report ,(http://www.pewresearch.org/topics/jews-and-judaism/) which reflected less Jewish attachment […]

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Are You Jewish?

by Jeff Pozmantier January 30, 2014

How do you know if you’re Jewish? If you’re male, there’s Day 8, baby D-day.  Did that clip and pray party grant you permanent Jewish membership? Maybe.  Who else but your Jewish brothers and sisters would think to turn snipping foreskin into a joyous celebration? But what about  faux tribesmen? It’s hard to distinguish a mohel’s artistry from a […]

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Is Israel A Jewish State?

by Jeff Pozmantier January 15, 2014

Is Israel a Jewish state?  Of course. How silly. That’s what Balfour was about. That’s what the U.N. said when it partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. That’s what Israel is de facto and de jure, and even a la mode. Que Sera Sera. So why all the fuss? Israel is 80 per cent […]

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Israel’s Greatest Security Threat? Sometimes It’s Israel

by Jeff Pozmantier January 5, 2014

A little over a year ago, noted author and columnist Daniel Gordis opined about The Dangerous Myopia of American Jewish Leaders.  (I’m a little behind in my reading, but that’s only in Gregorian calendar years. In Middle East peace talk years, I’m keeping a brisk pace.) Gordis, who apportions his rants and more thoughtful views on a sort of odd-even day schedule, believes […]

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The Iran Deal: Neville Chamberlain Revisited?

by Jeff Pozmantier November 25, 2013

Listen to the critics. No, not Martin Bashir. He’s too busy dumping on Sarah Palin (figuratively at least) to opine on nuclear proliferation. Listen to the critics. No, not AIPAC or ADL. Their views on Iran are grounded more in Neville Chamberlain’s diplomatic failures and a world that ignored the Nazi Germany threat. So to engage in […]

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It’s Time For (Re)Action: What The Pew Report Tells Us (Or Should) First in a Series

by Jeff Pozmantier October 31, 2013

My phone buzzed. Uh oh. I was  just a  few seconds from landing in Houston, after returning from a friend’s daughter’s wedding in Nashville.  But that few seconds — okay, maybe it was a few minutes — was just enough time for my flight attendant, the same nice lady who brought me peanuts and diet coke, […]

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1-800-GET-HELP: Was That Obama Or Billy Mays?

by Jeff Pozmantier October 24, 2013

Was that Billy Mays, the Home Shopping Network pitchman who sold so many of us on the merits of OxiClean and Orange Glo? Or was that really  POTUS, the all-networks’ pitchman trying to sell us on the merits of ObamaCare by highlighting  the TOO MANY TO MENTION THEM ALL! Obamacare features and benefits, a  broken but SOON-TO-BE-FIXED! website, and a swell 1-800 number with WAIT […]

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Exclusive Larry King Interview: Obama Reveals Thoughts On Leadership, Syria, And Chemical Weapons (And That’s Not All!)

by Jeff Pozmantier September 20, 2013

Larry King, former radio and CNN host, USA Today columnist, and now a leading candidate to take the Guinness Book of Records’ “failed celebrity marriages” title, agreed to sit down with President Obama to discuss current events. (While other publications declined the interview, possibly because they were worried it would read like one of King’s old columns — ruminations on his social […]

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The New York Times: All The News That’s Unfit To Print?

by Jeff Pozmantier September 16, 2013

If the AJC’s David Harris can email his (mostly unpublished) letters to the New York Times to his blog subscribers, then so can I. (Of course, Harris usually exceeds the Times’  “150 words limit” by a magnitude of ten, so not many are published. I am at a smaller magnitude of excess, so the race […]

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