Palestinians for pieces

Until I went on my low fat diet, I used to love salami-Kosher salami, Genoa salami, any salami.

But I never loved Abbas’ salami. You know, the salami tactic, slicing off a piece at a time until you get the whole thing. In this case the salami is Israel’s security and the slicer is the Kerry instigated ‘piece process.’

As Mr. A, an early member of the Palestinians for Pieces group told us this week that if a certain group of murderers was not released from prison, it would be a breach of the piece process. Only the press, correcting Mr. A’s poor spelling changed it to ‘peace.’ But they were wrong. English with its homonyms and homophones and homographs (not to mention homosexuals and homophobes) is a tricky language and a piece isn’t a peace.

In an article entitled Negotiating in the Middle East: How The Other Side Sees It foreign policy analyst Mark Silverberg discusses what he sees as the zero sum mentality prevalent in the Arab mindset.

Essentially it is a paradigm that deems that giving anything up without getting something more valuable in return is unacceptable. This being so, Abbas cannot accept it. To agree to Netanyahu’s request that the talks be extended before he will agree to the final prisoner release will be considered a show of weakness; this despite the fact that he recently, and very publicly told President Obama that he’s rejecting the Obama/Kerry framework on which the process was based..

The presumption that Israel has to give something for nothing, a ‘confidence builder,’ was a strange idea to begin with. The choice 104 prisoners, many of them vicious murderers of women and children made it stranger still. If we were adversaries and you did that, I’d say, “Thanks” and continue on to see what more I could get. On the other hand, if I had an honest desire to negotiate a situation that could be good for both of us, I wouldn’t expect anything in advance, would I? And so, in this netherworld of Middle East politics we now find ourselves in a situation where the original deadline for the resolution of the talks is practically here, the other side has already declared any deal dead, and they want the rest of the salami anyway.

As Winston Churchill described it, ‘Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.’ I do confess to being totally at a loss in my overall understanding of diplomacy. It is a convoluted and tortuous process where implacable enemies smile and exchange kisses while sticking their thumbs in each others’ eyes.

But I do know a piece process when I see it. To paraphrase an old saying. ‘If it looks like a salami and smells like a salami, then it must be a salami. And we ought to save some for ourselves.

About the Author
Professor of Writing at two Community Colleges, Fulbright Scholar (universities in Russia and Belarus) member of local JCC, secular rather than religious, married many years with children and grandchildren.
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