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When Israel Met Palestine

Recasting the conflict as a romantic comedy

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Harry and Saeb Erekat.(Rotten Tomatoes/Getty/Ye Olde Tablet Photoshoppe)

Yesterday, Israeli and Palestinian representatives concluded another in a long line of futile meetings by agreeing to meet again next week in the same place, the Jordanian capital of Amman. Most people probably interpreted this denouement as another meaningless gesture. But I’m an incurable romantic: immediately, I imagined Israel and Palestine as Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember, pledging to meet each other once more atop the Empire State Building to prove to each other that their love is real.

It’s not as preposterous a comparison as you might think. After all, if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was ever made into a movie, it would have to be a romantic comedy.

Like all romantic comedies, this one begins with two protagonists who meet and despise each other, while all along their attraction and compatibility is evident to everyone else. If An Affair to Remember is before your time, think of Israel as Harry, obnoxious and spouting bombastic theories about life (and also Jewish!), and of the Palestinians as Sally, sensitive and insistent on fairness and decorum (and also not Jewish!). If only he gave back a bit of land, and she got rid of her crazy, crazy girlfriend Hamas (played by Carrie Fisher), they could finally be together and spend eternity doing the things they both love to do, like shopping at the Gap in Jerusalem.

But we’ve an entire reel to fill, and so the lovers cannot be united right away. First, they must overcome a series of sweet and preposterous challenges, like dating the other’s best friend or insisting the other recognize his right to be a Jewish state. She shallowly responds to courtship, he responds by building more settlements; the final embrace is postponed yet again, leaving us agitated but hopeful.

Israel, Palestine, here’s a word of advice: when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

Israeli, Palestinian Envoys Agree to Meet Again in Jordan Next Week [Haaretz]
Jerusalem Announces Contentious Construction Ahead of Peace Talks Meet [Haaretz]
Earlier: Israeli-Palestinian ‘Meeting’ Today in Jordan

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I’m an incurable romantic too Liel…let’s start a club bud.

frank says:

This is a terrible analogy. The Jew/Israel being obnoxious, and the Palestinian being sweet and sensitive. Please I think you are very confused about the situation.

Bill Pearlman says:

Not often you read something so idiotic outside of a jules comment

Are we saying that it is time to end the conflict and learn to live with one another? How can that happen when one of us is totally bent on the utter destruction of the other? Or is this more like the abused spouse who constantly claims that the abuser loves him/her?

sara simon says:

since some israelis and palestinians are in business together in Israel why not let them be the ones to try and work out a soloution it is the only soloution i can think of now…..since everything is stalemated there are more of those “combinations” than one realizes more power to them

Jules says:

Frank, it’s not so often I’m honored with a compliment by an idiot.

Jules says:

I believer peace is achievable, I’m not so sure about the ugly zealot hasbara trolls though.

Beatrix says:

Cute article. But as long as Abbas remains a better propagandist than a leader, nothing will happen.

Trivializing the conflict may satisfy the childishness of the writer but gets us nowhere.

Would it be too much to ask an American to be a little more grown-up?

So NOT funny. Did I just read a comparison that paints the Palestinians as “sensitive, and insistent on fairness and decorum”? While the Jews are labeled “obnoxious” and having “bombastic” viewpoints. What the F-?! I mean, really?! Here’s another idea, maybe next time the writer can compare Israel to Scarface and you guys can lead with “Say hello to the bad man” and really vilify them. Brutal.

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When Israel Met Palestine

Recasting the conflict as a romantic comedy

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