Excerpt: Peace in the Middle East In Six Months or Less

levey_gregory blog size.jpgWho needs peace talks when you've got Gregory Levey on the case?

He's the author of "How To Make Peace In The Middle East In Six Months Or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment" and he makes his first Day Six appearance this Saturday. We've enlisted Gregory to bring a total end to all conflict in the region in the next six months. We know he can do it. Thank us later.

Keep reading for a Day 6 exclusive excerpt from the book... Neither Left nor Right, I'm Just Staying Home Tonight

From HOW TO MAKE PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST IN SIX MONTHS OR LESS by Gregory Levey. Copyright c 2010 by Gregory Levey. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Shortly after I decided to be the one to make peace in the Middle East, I found myself going to a lunch meeting with someone who worked at a Jewish nonprofit in New York. A mutual friend had thought we would get along and that maybe we would be able to work together on a project of some sort. Only as I arrived at the restaurant, a small Italian place on the Upper East Side, did it occur to me that I had no idea what this person looked like. I just knew that his name was Wayne, and I had the vague idea that he was in his thirties or early forties. So when I walked in, a little late, and found that the only person standing by the door was well into his sixties, I was a bit surprised.

"Wayne?" I asked tentatively.

"Yes," he said with a big smile, shaking my hand.

Okay, I thought, so Wayne was a bit older than I'd anticipated.

"I'm Gregory," I said. "It's nice to meet you. I'm sorry I'm a bit late."

He looked at his watch, and his brow furrowed.

"I actually thought I was a bit early," he told me.

But before we could discuss this any further, the maƮtre d' appeared and asked us if we wanted a table for two. We told him that we did, and followed him across the restaurant to an empty table. Then, just as we were about to sit down and I was already wondering if it would be appropriate to order appetizers, my lunch companion suddenly stopped.

"Wait," he said, "did you ask me if my name was Wayne?"

"Yes!" I said, alarmed. "My name is Barry," he told me.

He sounded almost apologetic, and we both paused for a long while, assessing the situation.

"Then why did you say yes?" I asked him eventually.

"I thought you had misspoken."

When Wayne arrived and we sat down at our table, I quickly forgot about the awkwardness with Barry. It was impossible to pay attention to anything other than Wayne, who was so full of manic energy that it seemed possible that he would accidentally knock cutlery or glassware onto my lap at any moment. He was English, which I hadn't known before, and as soon as we sat down together, he started swearing profusely. I liked him immediately.

"You were a bloody speechwriter for the Israeli government?" he asked.

"How the fucking hell did that happen?"

As politely as I could, I told him to read my book. I had even brought him a copy, and I handed it to him.

"F---!" he said for no apparent reason, staring at the cover.

We ordered our food, and Wayne told me about what his organization did. It had very little to do with the Middle East, but it was interesting stuff. Because I had been immersed in Middle East-related activities for a while, I sometimes forgot that organizations like his existed--American Jewish groups who stayed out of the Middle East fray. Then he asked me what my next project was.

"I'm going to try to make peace in the Middle East," I told him.

"You're shitting me," he said. "Why the f--- would you try to do that?"

Especially because of his English accent, I thought his constant swearing was somehow funny, but the volume at which he was doing it was starting to make me a bit uncomfortable. A group of Asian tourists were eating lunch, and I noticed that a few of them were casting concerned glances in our direction. I lowered my voice a little, hoping he would follow suit, and told him about my reasoning. I was sick of hearing about the situation in the Middle East, I said, and if solving it myself was the only way to end it, then that was what I had to do. I explained that my plan was to talk to a wide collection of people engaged with the debate, and see if I could broker a solution--guided by the line I had heard from the Palestinian former prisoner's friend about how it was harder to fight a moderate than a radical. In the end, not only would I hopefully put one of the world's longest-running conflicts to rest, I would also write another book about the experience.

"So you're going to spend months talking to all those Israel nutters?" he asked.

"I think I have to," I told him.

He took a sip of his water, and seemed to be considering what I had told him.

"That's f---ing stupid," he said. I wondered if this was going to be the reaction I got from everyone as I tried to move forward on my project, and I asked him why he thought so.

"You've just f---ing told me that you're sick of talking about the Middle East and hanging around with all those bloody nutters," he said. "And now you tell me that you're going to waste your time doing more of that when you actually want to be doing something else. Of course that's f---ing stupid."

Suddenly I had an idea.

"Will you be one of my advisors?" I asked him.

"What?" I explained to him that I had been thinking that it might be useful for me to get a handful of people whom I could run ideas by as I proceeded. Wayne wouldn't serve as a political advisor, exactly, but more as a devil's advocate.

"I'll f---ng do it," he said.

"I'll check up on you, but I'm not doing it because I think it's a good idea--which I don't--or to help the bloody book you might write. I'm doing it because I'm worried about your f---ing mental health. I think this is going to destroy you. That's why I'm doing it. I'm worried about your f---ing mental well-being. I'm worried about your f---ing marriage."

Okay, I thought, nice to meet you too.
 
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