When I first read the title of Gregory Levey‘s new book, How to Make Peace in the Middle Eat in Six Months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment, I didn’t know what to think. Obviously, Levey (full disclosure: he will be blogging on Mixed Multitudes as part of the Jewish author blog series) is using a little humor with his title. He can’t actually be serious when he thinks he can solve the Middle East conflict in a 250 page book.
Thankfully, as much as Levey tries to push the idea that he actually IS trying to create peace in the region, that’s not actually what the book is about. Levey does attempt to frame all of his work in the hope of trying to create some type of peace plan. But in actuality, Levey is just exposing all of the absurd people in this country who make achieving peace next to impossible.
In the book, Levey goes around interviewing people who are invested in the conflict, from members of J Street and AIPAC, to Palestinian representatives in the United States, and everyone in between. And that’s where the gold is found.
Of all the crazy experiences Levey went through writing this book, him joining the virtual world Second Life and meeting people who go on safety patrol in virtual Jerusalem has got to be my favorite. Now, why would people feel the need to go on a fake patrol in a world that isn’t even real? Because of virtual terrorist attacks, obviously!
You heard me. There are virtual terrorists who attack Jewish sites in Second Life. And because of them, people sit on their computer for hours protecting virtual homes and synagogues.
And this is exactly why Levey’s book works. For all his talk about making peace and trying to befriend his local Palestinian grocer, his stories prove how absurd the whole idea of making peace on your own is. If there can’t even be peace in a made up computer world, Levey is essentially arguing, what chance do we have?
Really, the only thing that held me back in Levey’s book, ironically, is his obsession with trying to make peace. From the beginning, you never really believe him. Also, what does it even make to solve the Israel-Arab conflict? And how can he prove that concretely? So whenever he talks about his hopes, or wearing his “peacemaker” boxers, you really just want to scream, get on with it! Interview the crazy people!
If you can look past that, than Levey really does a great job at showing how Middle East politics function in North America. And he does it while remaining light-hearted and funny. If I had some typing of ranking system, I’d give Levey a good amount of thumbs up.
How to Make Peace in the Middle Eat in Six Months of Less Without Leaving Your Apartment is available now.