Roger M. Kaye
A retired physicist reinvented as thriller novels writer

Beauty is power; a smile is its sword

While looking for material for yet another Blog, I turned to the London-based Telegraph, always a good source for unusual, if not downright ridiculous, stories. There, on the front page, among Corbyn’s ‘Zionist’ remarks ‘most offensive statement since Rivers of Blood’ (not unusual enough) and Great British Bake Off: France rules in a prawnographic start to the series (too ridiculous), I found just what I needed: Farmers should ‘smile’ at their livestock to produce better meat.

Let me be quite clear, I am not for a moment suggesting that our Palestinian neighbors are livestock. But, I started to wonder if our soldiers and Border Police could benefit from this technique. Imagine, if you can, the weekly rent-a-crowd turning up at the border between Israel and Gaza, sent to face the hated Zionist enemy by their brave Hamas leaders sitting safely in their air-conditioned underground shelters. Armed with nothing but sticks and stones, Molotov cocktails and just a few high-powered sniper rifles, they prepare to face the full force of the Israeli army, only to find themselves facing a wall of smiling faces.

Palestinian reaction to our smiling forces could be very instructive. Smile at a baby, and the baby should smile back. Children as young as two months have already learnt this social skill. A child who consistently fails to respond to others’ smiles is considered to be at risk of autism. We could learn a lot about the Palestinian’s mental health.

The Telegraph goes on to explain that “The study has important implications for how we interact with livestock and other species, because the abilities of animals to perceive human emotions might be widespread and not just limited to pets.” Well, if it works with ‘other species’ perhaps it will work with Palestinians who are, after all, no more than a sub-species of the Jordanian, or possibly Saudi Arabian people.

Smiles – signals sent either consciously or subconsciously – are understood in nearly all cultures as a sign of friendliness. Frowns, however, are usually considered a sign of disapproval.

As a first step towards using this important tool, the IDF should introduce Smiling Courses. Many of us have been brought up under the incorrect impression that we use more muscles to frown than to smile. In fact, studies have shown that a smile uses more muscles than a frown, although nobody has come up with a definitive number for how many muscles it takes to smile or frown; there are just too many degrees of expression for both activities.

To make sure that new IDF recruits are properly prepared for Smiling Duty, the new course will include exercises carefully designed to strengthen the 43 facial muscles and teach our soldiers to control their seventh cranial nerve. This nerve after several twists, turns and splits, reaches the face and drives the muscles that twist and contort it into a variety of expressions.

And while your imagination is working, how might the world view this new attempt to lower tensions between us and our neighbors?

Jeremy Corbyn: Israel is weaponizing smiles

Al Jazeera: Smiling at Palestinian rioters? – It makes you want to laugh!

Daily Telegraph: Smiling Israel is Nothing to Laugh At

Len Palmer: Put a smile on my face – keep on buying my books (Details at

About the Author
The author has been living in Rehovot since making Aliya in 1970. A retired physicist, he divides his time between writing adventure novels, getting his sometimes unorthodox views on the world into print, and working in his garden. An enthusiastic skier and world traveller, the author has visited many countries. His first novels "Snow Job - a Len Palmer Mystery" and "Not My Job – a Second Len Palmer Mystery" are published for Amazon Kindle. The author is currently working on the third Len Palmer Mystery - "Do Your Job".
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