Lauder’s wisdom

On March 18 inst., Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), published an opinion piece titled Israel’s Self-Inflicted Wounds. Of all places, he chose to publish it, in the New York Times,  infamous for  making its business to malign or attack Israel through its biased, misleading and, at times, false news reporting.

The piece, somewhat inappropriate for someone occupying his current position, having already been rightly criticised by a number of political commentators, I do not intend to focus cover the same grounds.

Some years back, I attended an introductory seminar for lawyers on the art and science of mediation and arbitration.  The instructor began the seminar by telling us the following anecdote:

There was once an old man, which I shall name Justin, whom the people of his village considered to be infallibly wise and judicious. And so it was that whenever the villagers had a dispute or a difference of opinion which they could not resolve among themselves, they invariably turned to him to get the matter sorted out and settled.

One day, as Justin was about to have his morning coffee in peace and quiet at the village’s outdoor coffee shop, he heard two boys arguing loudly and increasingly vehemently  about something or another which he could not quite make out. The arguments went on and appeared to be verging on a fist fight. Justin upset at being unable to enjoy his coffee, finally got fed up, went to see what all the fuss was about. When he got near the boys, he cut across a row of villagers and asked the boys in a severe tone of voice, what they were fighting about. They, in turn, pointed to an orange on the ground and shouted some sort of claim to it, which Justin did not quite hear.

He looked at them and at the orange and then said: “I do not know what this fuss is all about”. Enjoying an unblemished record of solving big and little, complex or simple disputes among the villagers, he confidently told the boys to bring the orange to him and that he would solve their problem forthwith. By the time the boys settled down, brought the orange and placed it on Justin’s table, quite a few curious villagers had gathered around to watch the proceedings. Justin told the boys “look here!” He then took out his pocket knife and sliced the orange into two absolutely equal halves before the boys could get out a word edgewise. The villagers shouted, cheered and clapped saying: “Well-done, well done!”

The boys stood silent. They stared at the halves, almost began to cry, but then became angry and attacked the old man.

The villagers and the old man were startled by this turn of events.

Finally, after the boys were restrained by the villagers, Justin turned to them and asked: «What’s the matter with you two shameless little goons? You had a problem that you could not manage to solve by yourselves and I solved it for you. Look here, I cut you each a perfect half and spared you from physical injury and pain”

The two boys looked at him and then they both jumped on him, kicking and punching, one shouting: “But I only wanted the skin!”, while the other yelled: “And I only wanted the pulp!”

When Lauder asserts that “the only path forward is the two-state solution” (Italics mine), he is doing no better than the old man. Based on the way the facts on the ground have evolved and now stand, Lauder’s assertion is neither wise nor judicious, especially when the Palestinians want both the skin and the pulp of the entire orange, while the Israelis are reasonably and lawfully asking for only part of the pulp and part of the skin.

About the Author
Doğan Akman was born and schooled in Istanbul, Turkey. Upon his graduation from Lycee St. Michel, he immigrated to Canada with his family. In Canada, he taught university in sociology-criminology and social welfare policy and published some articles in criminology journals After a stint as a Judge of the Provincial Court (criminal and family divisions) of the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, he joined the Federal Department of Justice working first as a Crown prosecutor, and then switching to civil litigation and specialising in aboriginal law. Since his retirement he has published articles in Sephardic Horizons and e-Sefarad and in an anthology edited by Rifat Bali titled This is My New Homeland and published in Istanbul.
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