Barack Mandela
Human Rights Attorney

Game of Thrones: Fire and Ice in Israel

I sometimes identify Israel’s struggle with characters from the TV series “Game of Thrones”. Specifically, Israel’s military might and security obsession are similar to “Arya Stark” who was portrayed by actress Maisie Williams.

Arya travels and trains to be a Ninja warrior. She masters combat, weapons, stealth, and blitzkrieg. Using her skills as a warrior, Arya eliminates the infamous “Knight King” and saves her home, Winterfell.

My advanced combat training in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), United States Army, and the Security & Tactical School in Caesarea are similar to Arya Stark’s combat training by the “Faceless Men” in Game of Thrones.

After my honorable discharge from the Israeli military, I studied to be a rabbi at Machon Meir Jewish Academy in Kiryat Moshe, Jerusalem; where I was mentored by Rabbi Dov Begon and Rabbi Menachem Listman. I studied with numerous Jewish settler leaders.

Similar to “Lord Varys” in Game of Thrones, I became a master of whisperers while studying with Israel’s warrior class.

After leaving my rabbinic studies, I moved to the dormitories at Bar Ilan University. I became a protégé of several professors: Professor Ellen Spolsky, Professor Susan Handelman, Professor William Kolbrener, and Professor Sharon Baris.

After I attended Palestinian meetings on campus, Arab students at Bar Ilan University gave me the nom de guerre “Ali Erakat”. The name “Erakat” was inspired by Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.

Soon I became a security researcher at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies where I was mentored by Professor Ephraim Inbar. Again, I was focused on Israel’s military and security.

To deepen my understanding of the Jewish religion, I turned my attention to the city of B’nai Brak where I became a security officer. I was head of security at Gan Rivka preschool on Jerusalem Street. I also worked at the Leilov Hasidic school and the Chabad Tomchei Temimim Bais Menachem school next to the B’nai Brak cemetery.

Then, I was hired by Amishav security corporation to work as a security officer at Bar Ilan University where I protected Israeli officials such as Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF chief of staff Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon.

If the deep relationships between Israelis and Palestinians are similar to the dynamic intrigue of “Game of Thrones”, then my military experiences are similar to “Arya Stark”.

In Israel, the Game of Thrones constitutes complex relationships between religious and secular, Arabs and Jews, Druze and Bedouins, and elite and periphery.

“When you play the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die. There is no middle ground,” exclaims Queen Cersei Lannister who was portrayed by actress Lena Heady.

This kind of extreme, all-or-nothing thinking permeates the approaches of Israeli and Palestinian leaders: “you either win or you die.”

When I toured Jewish and Palestinian communities in Hebron, Kiryat Araba, and Ramat Mamre; disagreements and militant distrust were evident on all sides of the conflict.

The Game of Thrones is a perfect analogy for the greater Middle East and its rich and complex religious, social, economic, and political realities.

To help bring peace and security to the region, we must transform Israel and the Palestinians from “Arya Stark” into “Tyrion Lannister”. Tyrion uses his mind rather than might. In other words, Israel and the Palestinians must not use force and oppression; instead, they must use diplomacy and negotiation.

In the end, both Arab communities and Jewish communities must live together in peace so that both sides win the Game of Thrones.

About the Author
Licensed Attorney. I earned a Doctor of Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law (1997). I earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Riverside (1994). I was an international student at the University of Costa Rica Faculty of Law (1991-1992) and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law (Summer 1996). I am a military veteran of both the United States Army and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). I am a laureate of the National Defense Service Medal from the Pentagon (2006). I am a financial donor to following: Harvard Law, Yale Law, Stanford Law, Berkeley Law, UC Hastings College of the Law, UC Davis Law, Columbine High School, Choate Rosemary Hall, Phillips Exeter Academy, Sidwell Friends School, Viewpoint School, Beverly Hills High School, Eton College in the United Kingdom, Special Olympics, Children's Defense Fund, Obama Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Barbra Streisand Foundation, and the British Red Cross. I am former special assistant and staff attorney to Governor Pete Wilson of California. I was public affairs assistant to US Senator Barbara Boxer and Mayor Ehud Olmert of Jerusalem and Jerusalem spokesperson Haggai Elias.
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